Overcrowding, lack of classrooms in Arab education system

Vast majority of students within the Arab education system come from low socio-economic backgrounds.

September 14, 2014 22:44
3 minute read.



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The Arab education system in Israel is characterized by overcrowding and a lack of classrooms, as the majority of students come from low socioeconomic backgrounds.

These are some of the findings expected to be published at the end of the month by Sikkuy – The Association for the Advancement of Civic Equality detailing the state of the Arab education system in Israel.

As part of the report the organization examined the state of pupils and of schools in Arab municipalities throughout the country and found that the Arab education system is lagging behind.

According to the report, a vast majority of students within the Arab education system come from low socioeconomic backgrounds. Some two thirds of Arab children in Israel live below the poverty line, while the educational background of their parents is much lower compared to the average adult Jewish population.

The proportion of Arab adults aged 15 and up who have completed only up to a primary school education stands at some 37% compared to 16% among the Jewish population, while the percentage among Arabs who have completed an academic degree stands at 17% compared to 40% among Jewish adults.

The organization also stressed that in March 2008, a committee headed by Dr. Shai Cnaani, which was appointed by then-education minister Yuli Tamir, released a report examining the lack of classrooms in the Arab sector for the years 2008-2012. According to the findings of the report, it was found that an estimated 9,236 classrooms would have to be built until 2012 in order to accommodate the Arab school system.

However, according to Sikkuy, at the end of 2011 there was a lack of some 4,502 classrooms in the Arab education system. While 15,573 classrooms were in operation during the 2011/12 academic year, 29% of these classes were operating out of rented classrooms in undesignated buildings or in caravans.

According to the Cnaani committee findings, at the beginning of 2007 the Arab education system would lack some 2400 preschool classrooms by the year 2012.

With the implementation of compulsory education from the age of three law, thousands of children aged three and up began attending preschools significantly driving up the number of classrooms needed.

In the 2011/12 school year for example, some 89,795 children attended preschools, not including east Jerusalem with the average class standing at 27 children. The total number of classrooms that operated during this year stood at 3,325 while there was a lack of some 2,026 classrooms – or 61% of all classrooms.

Furthermore, the report found that of all the classrooms in the Israeli education system that are rented each year, some 80% are in the Arab education system.

As of 2012 some 20,323 students in Arab education and some 4,152 students in Jewish education system were studying in rented classrooms. According to Sikkuy, vast amounts of funding has gone into renting classrooms as opposed to spending the funds on building new permanent classrooms for students.

In addition, the study found that in 19% of schools in the Arab education system there are elementary schools with over 600 students, compared with 10% in the Jewish education system. In contrast, in 23% of elementary schools in the Jewish education system there are less than 250 pupils studying, compared to only 3.6% in the Arab education system.

With regards to computers in schools, according to Sikkuy, the education ministry set as a goal in 2000 to have one computer for every five students in the Israeli education system. As of 2011 the report found that there was only one computer for every 12 students on average – with one computer for every nine students in the state secular and state religious school systems compared to one computer for every 20 students in the Arab and Beduin school system.

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