132. The Ministry of Education outlined a policy to close the gaps in the education system of the Arabic speaking population. This policy is reflected in new initiatives and in the expansion of successful existing programs. The results of this policy can be seen in the improvement of the achievements of the Arab population (which includes the Arab, Druze, Bedouin, and Circassian populations) in different indexes over the past two years and in a certain reduction of the gaps between the Arab and Jewish populations according to these indexes.
133. During the 2011/12 school year the number of pupils from the different populations (not including pre-schools ) was as follows: around 300,100 Arab pupils ( 19.2% of the pupils), around 83,500 Bedouin pupils (5.3% of the pupils), around 33,300 Druze pupils (2.1% of the pupils) and 1,148,556 Jewish pupils ( 73.4%of the pupils).
134. Changes and improvements in the Arab educational systems can be seen in the following:
(a) Improvement of the learning infrastructure in the education system of the Arab population, affirmative actions implemented when needed. This improvement can be seen in the expansion of the construction for the purpose of reducing the shortage of school classes, reducing the amount of children in each class and upgrading the infrastructure to face the technology of 21st century;
(b) Reducing the shortage of classes - between the years 2007-2011, 5 Billon NIS (US$ 137 Million) were invested in building 7,930 new classes for all population. 3,025 of those classes were built for the Arab population (39% of all classes, when the Arab population is 26% of the pupils in this age group), 1.8 Billion NIS (US$ 49.6 Million) were allocated for this purpose. As a result of this affirmative action, 533 additional classes were built, this reducing the existing shortage;
(c) Reducing the number of children in the classes – as a part of the program to reduce the number of children in elementary school and junior high schools, the allocation of the budget was based on preference a socio-economic decile ranking of the school, the target being a class of 32 pupils at most. In the past three years, 475 Million NIS (US$ 130.9 Million) was allocated for this program. In the elementary schools, 66% of the 700 classes that have been reduced to a 32 children class are within the Arab population, whilst the Arab pupils are 27% of this age group. In junior high schools, 52% of the classes that have been reduced to a 32 children class are within the Arab population, whilst the Arab pupils are 29% of the total age group;
(d) Upgrading the infrastructure – since the 2010/11 school year, the Ministry of Education has been operating a novel program for adapting the education system to the 21st century, which includes technology. The pupils are taught skills that will allow then to best function in the 21st century. The program is implemented in the north and south regions, where there is a large representation of the Arab population. In the north region all the Bedouin elementary schools were computerized and an additional 200 elementary schools were computerized in the Arab population compared to the 160 Jewish schools. In the 2011/12 school year, 420 Million NIS (US$ 115.7 Million) were allocated towards this purpose;
(e) A new program in the pre-school in the Arab populations called “The foundation towards reading and writing as a native tongue in pre-school” that was approved in 2009 is now implemented throughout the Arab education system. As a complementary measure, training sessions and seminars for pre-school teachers to strengthen their knowledge of the language and enable them to acquire the knowledge to develop thinking processes from early age. In elementary schools, the program “Arabic language education: language, literature and culture” was approved in 2009 and is considered one of the most advanced language skills programs. For high schools, a new program was developed and authorized in the 2011/12 school year and the outline of an additional new program in grammar and writing skills, that meets the international standards, was authorized;
(f) The accomplishments of the Arab population has improved increasingly both in the international examination and the matriculation exams. The percentage of Arab pupils that are entitled to a matriculation certificate in the Arab population has increased by 6% and the results of the Pirls exams (progress in international reading literacy study) for the 4th grade have improved by 58 points in the Arabic test and in the TIMSS (Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study) exam for 8th graders by 57 in maths and 59 points in science. In order to achieve these results, the Education Ministry has allocated many additional hours for the cause (3,500 additional hours in maths, 1,700 additional hours in science and so forth);
(g) 50 centres for career guidance in Arab high schools to assist children in choosing their career path. In Addition, 50 centres for psychometric exams were opened for the Arabic population;
(h) Long school days (37 weekly hours) are operated in 1,239 pre-schools, of which 426 (34%) are from the Arab population and 659 elementary schools of which 213 (32%) are from the Arab population. Hot meals are provided in 1,248 of the pre-schools, of which 418 (34%) from the Arab population and in 388 schools of which 97 from the Arab population (25%). All in all 27,500 children enjoy a long school day, of which 117,000 children are from the Arab population (23% of the population). 65,000 children of the Arab population enjoy the hot meal program (13% of the population);
(i) Technological education- according to Government Resolution no. 4193, dated from January 2012 and according to the Trajtenberg Report, a program was implemented to increase the amount of female pupils from the Arab population in the technological education of the Ministry of Education and in the professional schools administered by the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Labor. In the 2012/13 school year, 400 pupils will embark on this program. In the following years 700 additional female pupils will be added, compared to the 2011/12 school year. In the next five years, 150 million NIS (US$ 41.3 Million) will be invested in the program;
(j) According to the Government Resolution no.3708, dated September 2011 - the program to promote the economic growth and development of the Bedouin population. The Ministry of Education will expand the extent of technological programs, open continuation programs for 13th and 14th grades for technicians and practical engineers; will upgrade technological laboratories; will open technological course of study that fit the needs of the economy and expand projects and courses of study that integrate the pupils in the industry. 19 million NIS (US$ 5.2 Million) was allocated for the cause in the current five year plan, of which 14 million NIS (US$ 3.85 Million) as an additional budget;
(k) The “Ofek Hadash” (New Horizon) reform (an educational and professional reform program in the elementary schools and junior high schools operating since 2008. This reform is a systematic one that is aimed to change the existing education system and impacts many different aspects. The reform expanded the teachers' working hours to 36 weekly hours. Tutorial sessions are given to small groups up to five children and their content is determined by the school, according to the guidelines of the Ministry of Education. The reform determined four specific goals: strengthening the position of the teachers and raising their salaries, providing equal opportunities to all pupils and improving the pupil's achievements, improvement of school climate, and expanding the authority of the principal. This reform has been implemented in 346 schools (172,600 pupils) in the Arab population, 113 schools (57,000 pupils) in the Bedouin population and 53 schools (20,500 pupils) in the Druze population. Additionally the reform was implemented in 1,147 pre-schools (30,600 children) in the Arab population, 440 pre-schools (12,000 children) in the Bedouin population and 166 pre-schools (4,600 pupils) in the Druze population. The reform is implemented in 67% of the elementary and junior high schools in the Arab population, and 76% in the Druze population, compared to the coverage of 72% of the elementary and junior high schools in the Jewish population (not including the orthodox schools) and 56% of all the schools in the Jewish population (including the ultra-orthodox schools). The reform is implemented in 64% of the pre-schools in the Arab population, and 52% in the Druze population, compared to the coverage of 84% of the pre-schools in the Jewish population (not including the ultra-orthodox schools) and 64 of all the pre-schools in the Jewish population monitored by the Ministry of Education (including the ultra-orthodox schools);
(l) The “Oz Betmura” (courage for change) reform (the reform's purpose is to promote the educational system's achievements and to strengthen the position of the teacher in high schools, was implemented in the first year in 27% of the high school in the Arab population, 32% of the high school in the Bedouin population and 55% of the high schools in the Druze population. Compared to the coverage of 33% of the high schools in the Jewish population (not including the ultra-orthodox schools) and 23% of the high schools in the Jewish population (including the ultra-orthodox) schools). This reform is aimed to improve the teacher's position and the achievements of the education system;
(m) The Government decision to adopt the Trajtenberg report and to subsidize extra curriculum at the end of the school day for the ages 3-9 in pre-schools and elementary schools that are budgeted by the Ministry of Education in a program named “Tsila”. This program is the creation of afternoon care centres in elementary schools and pre-schools, where the children will stay from the end of their school hours and until 16:00 on weekdays. The centres will provide extracurricular and social education in small groups, and will also address emotional, social or behavioural difficulties. To date the “Tsila” program can be found in 81 municipalities. This program will decrease the gap between the socio-economic levels and save the parents approximately 1,500 NIS monthly (US$ 413.5);
(n) Strengthening the core subjects with additional hours “Ofek Hadash” (New Horizon) - 220,000 additional individual hours for slow learners; Oz Betmura (courage for change) reform - 175,000 additional individual hours for slow learners; division of classes into small groups (20 children) for maths and language)
(o) The expansion of compulsory education until the age of 18. Since 2009, the expansion of compulsory education from 16 to 18 was gradually implemented with a preference to localities with high dropout levels. The program includes additional positions in the internal unit of Attendance Supervisors who regularly visit schools in order to prevent children from dropping-out of school, operated by the Ministry of Education psychologists and additional resources. A total of 90 localities have joined the program, 49 localities are of the Arab population.