Israel hosts most overcrowded classrooms in OECD

Yacimovich: Grim findings are "direct result of severe cuts through the Netanyahu decade."

By
June 25, 2013 19:44
2 minute read.
School children

School children 521. (photo credit: Illustrative photo: Marc Israel Sellem)

Classrooms in Israel are overcrowded compared to the rest of OECD countries, according to its 2013 Education at a Glance report, released on Tuesday.

The report, which showcases data for the years 2010-2011, showed that while the average number of students in an elementary school in the OECD countries is 21.2, there are close to 28 pupils per classroom in Israel.

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According to the figures, the salary of primary school teachers in Israel is 29 percent less than their OECD counterparts.

“Israel, Mexico and Turkey are the three OECD countries with enrollment rates – for 15 to 19 year olds – below 65%, almost 20 percentage points below the OECD average of 84%,” the study revealed.

In terms of Israel’s annual expenditure per student by educational institutions for all services – from primary to tertiary education, including research and development activities – it was about $6,500 in 2010, about one-third less than the OECD average of $9,313.

This represents the eighth-lowest expenditure per student of OECD countries, according to the report.

Nonetheless, the report stressed that “Israel’s population is well educated” and ranks second among OECD countries for the percentage of 25- to 64-year-olds who have achieved tertiary education: 46% compared with an OECD average of 32%.



“The share of 25 to 64 year olds with at least an upper secondary education is 83%, well above the OECD average of 75%, while at the same time, the proportion of those with only an elementary education is well below the OECD average, 17% compared with 25% across OECD countries,” the report added.

The data also showed that 29.7% of the general population in Israel are students, compared to the average of 22% in the rest of the OECD countries.

In addition, teachers are younger in Israel: 53% of teachers in the country are aged 39 and below compared to 41% in the OECD countries.

Quoting other OECD data, Renana Leviani, from the Jerusalem Institute for Market Research, told The Jerusalem Post that the population in Israel is younger than in the rest of the OECD countries.

“The high percentage of young people means that the number of students in Israel is particularly high,” she pointed out.

“Studies about the effectiveness of a low number of students in the classroom are divided,” she added.

“Some studies show that a low number of students per class helps especially failing students. However, it does not necessarily lead to better results or achievement for most students.”

Concerning teachers’ salary, Leviani, who has recently published a report on the issue, stressed that “[because] teachers’ salaries are relatively low and their number of teaching hours [are] not particularly high, it is clear that this will be reflected in the number of students in the class, which will be extremely high.”

Opposition leader Shelly Yachimovich said the report revealed a “grim reality” which is “a direct result of the policy of severe cuts through the Netanyahu decade.”

She added that Finance Minister Yair Lapid’s new budget only worsens the situation.

The Education Ministry has yet to comment on the data.


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