Increase eligibility for high school graduation

There is no doubt that in the periphery we have human capital that has not yet been exhausted.

August 21, 2019 21:47
2 minute read.
A group of Anglo post high-school students in Hebron

A group of Anglo post high-school students in Hebron . (photo credit: Courtesy)

The rate of matriculation eligibility among 12th-grade student graduates increased from 68.2% in 2017 to 69.9% in 2018, according to a report released by the Education Ministry over the weekend.

However, despite the slight improvement, and although the Education Ministry has a policy to reduce gaps between schools of upper and lower socioeconomic deciles, there is still much room for improve improvement. The data from the report indicate gaps in matriculation eligibility rates between students of high and low socioeconomic rankings of more than 20%.

The gaps high school diploma eligibility are also reflected later rates of entrance to institutions of higher education. A key issue is whether the quality of a high school diploma allows for such admissions. While 23.6% of students in economically disadvantaged areas studying for an undergraduate degree, 53.1% of students in economically strong areas do so, more than double the rate. This indicates that young men and women in the periphery have not been given the tools to pursue higher education.

There is no doubt that in the periphery we have human capital that has not yet been exhausted. There are young men and women with no less ability and wisdom than their peers in the center, but we have to invest more in order to give them an equal starting point and enable them to believe in themselves. The government must understand that fixing the roots of the of matriculation eligibility results is our national mission.

So what can we do? The change will come only if we significantly reduce the huge gaps between established communities where significant investments in education come from the local authority and those communities where this investment is much lower. Resources should be allocated to a national program led by the government joining with local municipalities and philanthropic organizations. This national program would focus investment in educational institutions with current low results. The huge gaps in the education budgets as a result of the supplemental funding of strong local authorities should be balanced by the state and philanthropic organizations.

We must strengthen the school budgeting mechanism based on the characteristics of students enrolled in particular school. At the same time, preferential treatment for schools in poorer economic areas, along with intervention programs, should be promoted to increase student motivation and confidence in their ability to access higher education, enable integration of economically disadvantaged students and stop the migration of “strong” students to other schools. Additionally, we must limit fees that increase these gaps and enforce prohibition of admission barriers, direct or indirect (through additional tuition and ancillary costs), which allow schools to prejudice the selection of students.

I call on the government of Israel to support and strengthen the Education Ministry. Let’s not just settle for a slight increase in matriculation eligibility but work to raise the rate of eligibility for youngsters from disadvantaged communities. Social gaps that are neglected will only widen and threaten the resilience and cohesion of Israeli society.

The writer is CEO of ISEF-Israel Scholarships Education Foundation.

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