The Israeli education system

Yariv Feniger, Yossi Shavit, Shir Caller

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Under the 1949 Compulsory Education Act, education in Israel is compulsory and free, from the age of 3 to the end of secondary school (12th grade). While Israel is geographically small and ethnic and religious subpopulations live in close proximity to one another, they are highly segregated both residentially and in schools. The 1953 State Education Law established the structure of the education system. This law consolidated the various streams of Zionist education that had operated prior to the establishment of the state under the definition of “state education” and added a stream of state schools for the Arab sector that use Arabic as their language of instruction. The high degree of economic inequality in Israel is reflected in educational inequality, which is one of the highest among economically developed countries. The public educational system is centralized and curricula are standardized, but religious Jewish groups enjoy considerable organizational and curricular autonomy. Arab state schools, in contrast, do not enjoy similar autonomy. Rapid expansion of higher education in recent decades contributed to a dramatic increase in graduation rates in all social categories, but large gaps remain, especially along ethno-religious lines in both graduation rates, fields of study and quality of institutions attended.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationRoutledge Handbook on Contemporary Israel
EditorsGuy Ben-Porat, Yariv Feniger, Dani Filc, Paula Kabalo, Julia Mirsky
Place of PublicationLondon
Number of pages12
ISBN (Electronic)9781000591149
ISBN (Print)9780429281013
StatePublished - 29 Jul 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Social Sciences
  • General Arts and Humanities


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