After the long summer vacation, followed by the period of the High Holidays, more than 2,272,000 pupils finally return to school and to their regular routines.

The education system in Israel reflects Israeli society as a whole, comprising all the streams and different groups that exist within it. According to the document, “The Education System in Israel – Central Issues Discussed in the Committee for Education, Culture and Sport” of the Knesset Research and Information Center, 2013, written by Ety Weissblay, the education laws in Israel recognize three types of institutions: official education, comprising institutions owned by the state in the state education stream, the state-religious education stream, and in recent years also the state-Ultra-Orthodox education stream; recognized education that is not official, comprising institutions that are not owned by the state, mostly schools belonging to Ultra-Orthodox school systems or other Ultra-Orthodox institutions; or institutions that have an exempt status, mostly Talmud Torah schools for boys.

The Ministry of Education recently published a list of all the educational institutions under its supervision (the list is updated to 2015). An examination of the years when the Hebrew education institutions were founded, and the number of students who attended them, reveals some interesting points.

The oldest schools are the Alliance School in Haifa, which according to the records was founded in 1860, and the schools belonging to Beit Yisrael (both general studies and religious studies schools) in Tel Aviv, established in 1870. The list shows that the total number of schools founded before the establishment of the state was 84, and they were attended by 64,360 pupils. At the other end of the spectrum, each year a few dozen new schools are opened. For example, in 2014, 112 schools were established, and the previous year the number was 118.

In recent decades, a trend can be identified in the increasing number of Ultra-Orthodox educational institutions being opened. The need to open these institutions is the result of the high natural increase in the population among the Ultra-Orthodox sector, where more children are born every year. The percentage of Ultra-Orthodox schools founded since 1990, from the total number of schools in the Ultra-Orthodox stream, stands at 91% in Israel (not including Jerusalem), and 86% in Jerusalem. During these years there was a significant increase in the schools in the independent school systems as well as state recognition of these schools, and these changes have left their mark on the education system.

In the state education schools the percentage of new schools is lower, and the findings for these schools are based more on veteran institutions, with 45% of all the state education schools in Israel founded before 1970, and 38% of these schools being located in Jerusalem. Compared with the rest of the country, more schools in the state education stream in Jerusalem were founded between 1970 and 1990:  27% state education schools and 25% state religious education schools in Jerusalem, as compared to 20% and 21% respectively, in the rest of the country. This data correlates with the establishment of new neighborhoods and the expansion of Jerusalem following the Six Day War.

Translation: Gilah Kahn