CBS report: Israel facing shortage of 12,000 teachers within 5 years

Close to 12,000 high school teachers will be missing from the education system in Israel by the year 2019.

State-religious school (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
State-religious school
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Close to 12,000 high school teachers will be missing from the education system in Israel by the year 2019, according to statistical projections released by the Central Bureau of Statistics on Tuesday.
According to the data, the demand for math teachers in high school is expected to reach 6,484 teachers by 2019, an increase of 1,745 over last year.
The demand for English teachers will also increase and reach 5,300 educators by 2019, an addition of 1,226 to the demand in 2012.
Subjects such as biology, physics and chemistry are not expected to be as greatly affected within the next five years.
In addition, the report revealed that the number of pupils in the local education system should grow by some 182,000 students and reach about 1,744,000 students by 2019.
In the Hebrew education system, it said, an increase of 12 percent – 139,000 students – is expected, with the annual growth rate of the number of students almost doubling over the projected period, from less than 1% to 1.8% annually.
Arab schools should see an increase of approximately 40,000 children, 10% more than in 2012.
According to the CBS, the highest increase in the number of students is expected in primary education, with an additional 123,000 pupils. Ultra- Orthodox schools expect some 63,000 extra students.
The figures also reveal that by 2019, some 60% of Israel’s pupils will be studying in the Jerusalem area, Tel Aviv and the Center.
Despite these official predictions, Dr. Smadar Donitsa-Schmidt, head of Humanities and Social Sciences at the Kibbutzim College of Education told The Jerusalem Post that the proverbial grain of salt be utilized in their interpretation.
“The CBS projections are exclusively based on demographic data of Israeli society in general,” she said.
“Of course demography is very important, but there are a lot more elements to be taken into consideration here, such as any changes in the rate of enrollment in the education system, families who move out of the country, families moving inside the country, teachers going to teach in different levels of education, different sectors or different subjects, and many more.”
Donitsa-Schmidt, who has conducted research of her own on the issue of Israel’s shortage in teachers, said that “Other things can also happen in the system itself like teachers quitting their jobs, or the number of students per classroom that could grow.
There could also be policy changes in education: there has been some talk with [Minister of Education] Shai Piron about canceling some matriculation exam subjects, which would lead to less students and less teachers.”
She said that, although a shortage of teachers does definitely exist in the country, CBS’ education projections have often predicted dramatic shortages in the past, which ultimately have not proven to be true.
“CBS often cries wolf and the Education Ministry itself just doesn’t believe them anymore,” she said.
“At the beginning of the school year, there won’t be any classes with no teachers.
Not this September and not the next,” she assured the Post.
Donitsa-Schmidt added that the data focuses on “very superficial factors” instead of asking the more important question, which in her opinion should be: “Who are the teachers who teach our children?” “The problem here is even bigger,” she explained, “Today you have teachers who sometimes teach subjects which are not their specialties, and some even teach with no license. That’s what we should worry about.”