English-speaking teens drop out of school at highest rate of all immigrants

The rate of Israeli-born high school students dropping out of Education Ministry-run middle and high schools in the 2013-2014 school year is 2.2 percent, while 4.5% of immigrants did so.

June 16, 2015 20:03
1 minute read.

School children in class. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)

High schoolers who immigrated from North America and Oceania are almost three times as likely to drop out of school than their Israeli-born peers, according to a report by the Knesset Research and Information Center.

The report, presented at the Knesset Immigration, Absorption and Diaspora Affairs Committee meeting on Monday, indicated that the rate of Israeli-born high school students dropping out of Education Ministry-run middle and high schools in the 2013-2014 school year was 2.2 percent compared to 4.5% for immigrants.

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Of North American and Oceania-born teens, 6.7% dropped out; followed by 6.02% of Western Europeans; and 3.49% of those born in the Former Soviet Union.

Maya Shrir, manager of the Department of Absorbing Child Immigrants in the Education Ministry said, however, that about half the immigrants listed as dropouts actually transferred to unofficial educational frameworks and are not really dropouts.

The Education Ministry’s psychological department, she said, has mediators who work with teens who speak Amharic and Russian to prevent them from doing drugs and drinking alcohol, but not enough who speak English.

Rabbi David Samson, dean of Yerushalayim Torah Academy, a high school for English-speaking boys in Jerusalem, said the government acts on the mistaken assumption that English-speaking immigrant students do not need help.

Samson cited studies showing 40% of students cannot learn in a language that is not their first, which is why his school teaches in English.

He also had a creative solution for teen immigrants’ problems, saying “You wouldn’t believe how useful Playstation and ping-pong are as therapeutic tools.”

Dganit Levy, a researcher for Myers-JDC-Brookdale: Applied Research for Social Change, meanwhile, expressed special concern for teen immigrants from France, saying 43% have indicated they have difficulties with their studies.

Israel is “losing youth who could contribute a lot to themselves and to our society,” said Immigration, Absorption and Diaspora Affairs Committee Chairman Avraham Naguise (Likud), who vowed to fight the phenomenon and demanded the Education and Absorption Ministries do the same.

Immigrants from Ethiopia had the lowest dropout-rate of all groups at 2.21%.

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