While Israel maintains a large expenditure on education, annual expenditure per student was one of the lowest among industrialized countries, according to an OECD report released on Tuesday.
According to the report, Education at a Glance 2014, Israel ranks fifth among OECD countries for the total expenditure on educational institutions as a percentage of GDP, which stood at 7.3 percent in 2011, higher than the OECD average of 6.1%.
But annual expenditure per student remained much lower than the average of OECD countries, with Israel spending $4,058 per student on pre-primary education in 2011, compared with the average of $7,428.
The Labor Party issued a statement Tuesday criticizing the government’s investment in the education system.
“This is additional proof of the twisted priorities of the government.
Instead of using education as a lever for reducing social gaps and building an exemplary society, the government prefers to dry out and neglect Israeli students and the education system,” the statement read.
The party also addressed the recent budgetary cutbacks to the Education Ministry, which will see it part with some NIS 500 million from its 2014 budget.
“We would have expected to hear the education minister’s cry on the subject, but that will not happen because his political existence depends on the finance minister who initiated the cuts,” the Labor Party statement said.
Israel spent $6,823 per student in primary education in 2011 and $5,712 per student in secondary education, compared with the organization’s average of $8,296 per student and $9,280 per student in primary and secondary education, respectively.
In 2011, Israel spent $11,554 per student in higher education, compared with the OECD average of $13,958.
The reason for this anomaly, according to the report, stems from the fact that Israel has a higher proportion of students among the general population, 31% compared to OECD average of 24%.
The findings further indicated that Israel ranks fourth for higher education achievement among those 25-64 years old, with 46% of adults in this age group holding an academic degree in 2012, compared to 33% in other OECD countries.
Furthermore, nearly twice as many Israelis aged 55-64 held a higher education degree compared to other OECD countries, 47% compared with 25%.
However, while nearly half of this age group has a higher education degree, only 45% of those 25-34 years old have an academic degree. This indicates an unusual trend that the older population is more educated than the younger population, though, generally in other OECD countries, more young people have attained higher education than those in the older age group.
Having a high level of education is of the utmost importance in the Israeli employment market, according to the report.
As of 2012, the employment rates for adults aged 25-64 with higher education was 85%, compared with 47% among those without an academic degree.
Earnings of adults with higher education degrees in the country were higher, with an academic degree increasing adults’ earnings by 52%.
This effect is even greater for women who have attained higher education, reflecting an increase of 71% in earnings.
The report also emphasized the fact that early childhood education is well developed in the Jewish state. The enrollment rate for three year-olds reached 86% in 2012, compared with 70% in the OECD.
The reason for this high figure is due to the Compulsory Education Law for three-year-olds, which requires them to receive an education.
Another interesting note in the report stated that Israel made the largest improvements in mathematics performance among OECD countries with an average improvement in the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) performance of more than four points per year between 2003 and 2012. Israel, though, still lags behind in test scores compared to other OECD countries.
Meretz chairwoman Zehava Gal-on also criticized the government’s policies toward education and said Netanyahu should be “ashamed” of the findings.
Education at a Glance: OECD Indicators is the authoritative source for accurate and relevant information on the state of education around the world. The annual report provides data on the “structure, finances and performance of the education systems” in the 34 OECD member countries, as well as a number of other G20 and partner countries