Israel

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Original Re.ViCa entry by Paul Bacsich. Updated to VISCED level by Nikos Zygouritsas of Lambrakis

For entities in Israel see Category:Israel


Partners situated in Israel

None.

Israel in a nutshell

Israel (Hebrew: יִשְׂרָאֵל‎, Yisra'el; Arabic: إِسْرَائِيلُ‎, Isrā'īl) officially the State of Israel ( מְדִינַת יִשְׂרָאֵל, Medinat Yisra'el; Arabic: دَوْلَةُ إِسْرَائِيلَ‎, Dawlat Isrā'īl), is a country in the Middle East located on the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea. It borders Lebanon in the north, Syria in the northeast, Jordan in the east, and Egypt on the southwest, and contains geographically diverse features within its relatively small area. Also adjacent are two areas of Palestine - the West Bank to the east and Gaza Strip to the southwest.

Israel is the world's only Jewish state, with a population of about 7.37 million, of whom about 5.57 million are Jewish. It is also home to other ethnic groups, including most numerously Arab citizens of Israel, as well as many religious groups including Muslims, Christians, Druze, Samaritans and others.

Israel operates under a parliamentary system as a democratic country with universal suffrage. The President of Israel is the head of state, but his duties are largely ceremonial. A Parliament Member supported by a majority in parliament becomes the Prime Minister, usually the chairman of the largest party. The Prime Minister is the head of government and head of the Cabinet. Israel is governed by a 120-member parliament, known as the Knesset. Membership in the Knesset is based on proportional representation of political parties, with a 2% electoral threshold, which commonly results in coalition governments. Parliamentary elections are scheduled every four years, but unstable coalitions or a no-confidence vote by the Knesset often dissolves governments earlier. The Basic Laws of Israel function as an unwritten constitution. In 2003, the Knesset began to draft an official constitution based on these laws.

The State of Israel is divided into six main administrative districts, known as mehozot (מחוזות; singular: mahoz) – Center, Haifa, Jerusalem, North, Southern, and Tel Aviv Districts. Districts are further divided into fifteen sub-districts known as nafot (נפות; singular: nafa), which are themselves partitioned into fifty natural regions.

For statistical purposes, the country is divided into three metropolitan areas: Tel Aviv and Gush Dan (population 3,150,000), Haifa (population 996,000), and Beersheba (population 531,600). Israel's largest city, both in population and area, is Jerusalem with 732,100 residents in an area of 126 square kilometers (49 sq mi). Tel Aviv, Haifa, and Rishon LeZion rank as Israel's next most populous cities, with populations of 384,600, 267,000, and 222,300 respectively.

Israel has two official languages, Hebrew and Arabic. Hebrew is the primary language of the state and spoken by the majority of the population. Arabic is spoken by the Arab minority and Jews who immigrated to Israel from Arab lands. Most Israelis can communicate reasonably well in English, as many television programs are in English and many schools begin to teach English in the early grades. As a country of immigrants, dozens of languages can be heard on the streets of Israel. A large influx of people from the former Soviet Union and Ethiopia have made Russian and Amharic widely spoken in Israel.

Israel was established as a homeland for the Jewish people and is often referred to as the Jewish state. The country's Law of Return grants all Jews and those of Jewish lineage the right to Israeli citizenship. Just over three quarters, or 75.5%, of the population are Jews from a diversity of Jewish backgrounds. Approximately 68% of Israeli Jews are Israeli-born, 22% are immigrants from Europe and the Americas, and 10% are immigrants from Asia and Africa (including the Arab World). The religious affiliation of Israeli Jews varies widely: 55% say they are "traditional," while 20% consider themselves "secular Jews," 17% define themselves as "Orthodox Jews"; the final 8% define themselves as "Haredi Jews."

At 16.2% of the population, Muslims constitute Israel's largest religious minority. About 2% of the population are Christian and 1.5% are Druze.


Israel education policy

Israeli schools are divided into four tracks: state (Mamlachti), state-religious (Mamlachti dati), Independent (Haredi) schools (Chinuch Atzmai) and Arab. There are also private schools which reflect the philosophies of specific groups of parents (Democratic Schools) or are based on a curriculum of a foreign country (e.g. The American School). The majority of Israeli children attend state schools. State-religious schools, catering to youngsters from the Orthodox sector (mainly Religious Zionist / Modern Orthodox), offer intensive Jewish studies programs and emphasize tradition and observance. The Chinuch Atzmai schools focus almost entirely on Torah study and offer very little in terms of secular subjects. Schools in the Arab sector teach in Arabic and offer a curriculum that emphasizes Arab history, religion and culture.

Education is compulsory in Israel for children between the ages of three and eighteen.[192][193] Schooling is divided into three tiers:

  1. primary school (grades 1–6)
  2. middle school (grades 7–9)
  3. high school (grades 10–12

– culminating with Bagrut matriculation exams. Proficiency in core subjects such as mathematics, Bible, Hebrew language, Hebrew and general literature, English, history, and civics is necessary to receive a Bagrut certificate.

In Arab, Christian and Druze schools, the exam on Biblical studies is replaced by an exam in Islam, Christianity or Druze heritage.

In 2003, over half of all Israeli twelfth graders earned a matriculation certificate.

Israel's eight public universities are subsidized by the state.

Schools in Israel

School system

School attendance is mandatory and free from age 6 to 18. Formal education starts in primary school (grades 1-6) and continues with intermediate school (grades 7-9) and secondary school (grades 10-12). About nine percent of the post-primary school population attend boarding schools. The multi-cultural nature of Israel's society is accommodated within the framework of the education system. Accordingly, schools are divided into four groups: state schools, attended by the majority of pupils; state religious schools, which emphasize Jewish studies, tradition, and observance; Arab and Druze schools, with instruction in Arabic and special focus on Arab and Druze history, religion, and culture; and private schools, which operate under various religious and international auspices. In recent years, with the growing concern of parents over the orientation of their children's education, some new schools have been founded, which reflect the philosophies and beliefs of specific groups of parents and educators.


Curriculum

Most hours of the school day are devoted to compulsory academic studies. While the subject matter to be covered is uniform throughout the system, each school may choose from a wide range of study units and teaching materials, provided by the Ministry of Education, which best suit the needs of its faculty and pupil population. With the aim of enhancing pupils' understanding of their society, each year a special topic of national importance is studied in depth. Themes have included democratic values, the Hebrew language, immigration, Jerusalem, peace, and industry.


Secondary education

The majority of secondary schools offer academic curricula in science and in the humanities leading to a matriculation certificate and higher education. Certain secondary schools offer specialized curricula, which lead to a matriculation certificate and/or vocational diploma. Technological schools train technicians and practical engineers on three levels, with some preparing for higher education, some studying towards a vocational diploma, and others acquiring practical skills. Agricultural schools, usually in a residential setting, supplement basic studies with subjects relating to agronomy. Military preparatory schools train future career personnel and technicians in specific fields required by the Israel Defense Forces. Yeshiva high schools, mainly boarding schools, with separate frameworks for boys and girls, complement their secular curricula with intensive religious studies and promote observance of tradition and a Jewish way of life. Comprehensive schools offer studies in a variety of vocations, ranging from bookkeeping to mechanics, electronics, hotel trades, graphic design, and more.

Youth not attending one of the above schools are subject to the Apprenticeship Law, requiring them to study for a trade at an approved vocational school. Apprenticeship programs are provided by the Ministry of Industry, Trade, and Labor in schools affiliated with vocational networks. Lasting three to four years, these programs consist of two years of classroom study followed by one/two years during which students study three days a week and work at their chosen trade on the other days. Trades range from hairstyling and cooking to mechanics and word processing.


Administration and Structure

The Ministry of Education is responsible for school curricula, educational standards, supervision of teaching personnel, and construction of school buildings. Local authorities are charged with school maintenance as well as with acquisition of equipment and supplies. Teaching personnel at the kindergarten and primary school level are ministry employees, while those in the upper grades are employed by local authorities, which receive funding from the ministry according to the size of the school population. The government and local authorities finance 80 percent of education, while the rest comes from other sources.

Educational Television (ETV), a unit of the Ministry of Education, produces and broadcasts scholastic programs for use in school classrooms and educational programs for the entire population. In addition, ETV collaborates with education professionals at universities and teachers' seminars in developing new teaching methods. Dedicated to providing lifetime learning, ETV gears its production to people of all ages through enrichment programs for preschoolers, entertainment programs for youth, educational courses for adults, and news broadcasts for all.


Education for Exceptional Children

Gifted children, who rank in the top 3 percent of their class and have passed qualifying tests, participate in enrichment programs, ranging from full-time special schools to extracurricular courses. A classroom for the gifted is characterized by the level of its students and its studies, with emphasis not only on imparting knowledge and understanding, but also on apply ng the concepts mastered to other disciplines. Children in these programs learn to research and handle new material independently. Children with physical, mental, or learning disabilities are placed in appropriate frameworks according to the nature of their handicap, to help them eventually achieve maximum integration into the social and vocational life of their community. Thus some are taken care of in special settings, while others attend regular schools, where they may be assigned to self-contained groups or to mainstream classes with supplementary tutoring. Responsibility for their wellbeing is shared by health-care personnel, psychologists, social workers, and special education professionals, as well as by the family and various community support groups. A committee constituted by law and appointed by the minister of education determines the eligibility of handicapped children for special education programs and facilities, which are free from age 3 to 21.


Higher education

Higher education plays a pivotal role in the economic and social development of the country. Almost a quarter of a century before the state came into being, the Technion - Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa was opened (1924) to train engineers and architects and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem was founded (1925) as a center of higher learning for youth in the Land of Israel and to attract Jewish students and scholars from abroad. When Israel attained independence (1948), enrollment at the two universities totaled about 1,600. In 2009-2010 some 280,000 students attended the country's institutions of higher learning. Of these, 38 percent attend universities and 41 percent are enrolled in colleges, while 21 percent participate in courses through the Open University.

Accorded full academic and administrative freedom, Israel's institutions of higher education are open to all those who meet their academic standards. New immigrants and students lacking the necessary qualifications may attend a special preparatory program, which upon successful completion enables them to apply for admission.

Council for Higher Education

Institutions of higher education operate under the authority of the Council for Higher Education, which is headed by the minister of education, and includes academics, community representatives, and a student representative. It grants accreditation, authorizes the awarding of academic degrees, and advises the government on the development and financing of higher education and scientific research.

The Planning and Grants Committee, composed of four senior academics from different fields and two public figures from the business or industrial sectors, is the intermediary body between the government and the institutions of higher education regarding financial matters, submitting budget proposals to both bodies and allocating the approved budget. Public funds provide 70 percent of the budget for higher education, 20 percent derives from tuition, and the rest from various private sources. The committee also promotes cooperation among the various institutions.


Students

Most Israeli students are over age 21 when they begin their studies, after three years' compulsory military service for men and two years for women. Until the early 1960s, students pursued higher education mainly to acquire knowledge, while in recent years they have been more career-oriented, with larger numbers enrolled in the wide range of professional studies now offered. At present, well over half of Israelis in the 20-24 age group are enrolled in one of the country's institutions of postsecondary or higher education.


Universities

Technion - Israel Institute of Technology (est. 1924, Haifa) has graduated a high proportion of the country's engineers, architects, and town planners. In recent decades, faculties for medicine and the life sciences were added. The Technion serves as a center of basic and applied research in the sciences and engineering to advance the country's industrial development.

  • The Hebrew University of Jerusalem (est. 1925) comprises faculties which cover nearly all areas of scholarship, from art history to zoology, and houses Israel's National Library. Since its inception, Hebrew University scientists have been actively involved in every phase of Israel's national development, and its Jewish studies departments rank among the most comprehensive in the world.
  • Weizmann Institute of Science (est. 1934, Rehovot), originally founded as the Sieff Institute, was expanded in 1949 and named after Dr. Chaim Weizmann, Israel's first president and a renowned chemist. Today, it is a recognized post-graduate center of research in physics, chemistry, mathematics, and the life sciences. Its researchers are engaged in projects designed to accelerate the development of industry and the establishment of new science-based enterprises. The institute includes a department for science teaching, which prepares curricula for use in high schools.
  • Bar Ilan University (est. 1955, Ramat Gan) embodies a unique integrative approach which combines enrichment programs in Jewish heritage with a liberal education in a wide range of disciplines, particularly in the social sciences. Blending tradition with modern technologies, it houses research institutes in physics, medicinal chemistry, mathematics, economics, strategic studies, developmental psychology, musicology, Bible, Talmud, Jewish law, and more.
  • Tel Aviv University (est. 1956) was founded by incorporating three existing institutions to meet the need for a university in the Tel Aviv area, the country's most populous region. Today it is Israel's largest university, offering a wide spectrum of disciplines and placing considerable emphasis on both basic and applied research. The university houses specialized institutes which focus on strategic studies, health systems management, technological forecasting and energy studies.
  • The University of Haifa (est. 1963), which serves as a center of higher education in the northern part of the country, offers opportunities for interdisciplinary studies; its interdepartmental centers, institutes, and overall architectural plan are structured to facilitate this approach. The university includes a unit for the study of the kibbutz as a social and economic entity, as well as a center dedicated to the advancement of understanding and cooperation between Jews and Arabs in Israel.
  • Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (est. 1967, Be'er Sheva) was established to serve the residents of southern Israel and to encourage the social and scientific development of the country's desert region. It has made major contributions in arid zone research, and its medical school has pioneered community-oriented medicine in the country. The university's campus at Kibbutz Sde Boker houses a research center for the study of the historical and political aspects of the life and times of David Ben-Gurion, Israel's first prime minister.
  • The Open University (est. 1974), patterned on the British model, offers distinctive, non-traditional higher education opportunities toward a bachelor's degree by utilizing flexible methods based primarily on self-study textbooks and guides, supplemented by structured assignments and periodic tutorials, with final examinations.


Colleges

Regional colleges offer academic courses. A number of these colleges operate under the auspices of one of the universities, making it possible for students to begin studying for a degree near their home and complete it at the university's main campus.

Some specialized institutes provide various disciplines in art, music, dance, fashion, nursing, rehabilitation therapies, teaching, and sports. Several private degreegranting colleges offer subjects in great demand such as business administration, law, computers, economics, and related topics. At some, additional tracks are available, leading to certificates or vocational diplomas in a variety of subjects ranging from technology and agriculture to marketing and hotel trades.

Universities in Israel - details

The eight official universities are listed below, with the acronyms commonly used in English:

  1. Bar-Ilan University (BIU)
  2. Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU)
  3. University of Haifa (HU)
  4. Hebrew University of Jerusalem (HUJI)
  5. Open University of Israel (OPENU; OUI)
  6. Technion - Israel Institute of Technology (IIT)
  7. Tel Aviv University (TAU)
  8. Weizmann Institute of Science (WIS)

Israel's seven research universities (excluding the Open University of Israel) have been ranked in the top 500 in the world.

The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel's oldest university, houses the Jewish National and University Library, the world's largest repository of books on Jewish subjects


Polytechnics in Israel

In addition to the universities, there are a around 30 colleges and other institutes of higher learning, as well as about a dozen foreign university extensions. All are academically supervised by the Council for Higher Education in Israel (CHEI). The main difference between a university and a college in Israel is that only a university can issue doctorate degrees. Theoretically, a college can apply to the CHEI to upgrade its status to university.


Teacher training colleges

There are also over 20 teacher training colleges or seminaries, most of which can award only a Bachelor of Education (B.Ed.) degree. The teacher training seminaries include:

  1. Ahva College of Education, Ahva
  2. Arab College for Education , Haifa
  3. Beit Berl College, Beit Berl
  4. College of Technology Education , Tel Aviv
  5. David Yellin College of Education, Jerusalem
  6. Efrata College of Education, Jerusalem
  7. Emuna College of Education, Jerusalem
  8. Givat Washington College of Education, Givat Washington
  9. Gordon College of Education, Haifa
  10. Hemdat College of Education, Netivot
  11. Jerusalem College Michlala, Jerusalem
  12. Kaye Academic College of Education, Beersheba
  13. Kibbutzim College of Education, Tel Aviv
  14. Levinsky College of Education, Tel Aviv
  15. Lifshiz Religious College of Education, Jerusalem
  16. Mofet, Consortium of Colleges of Education
  17. Moreshet Yaakov Religious College of Education, Rehovot
  18. Ohalo College, Katzrin (Golan Heights)
  19. Oranim Academic College of Education, Oranim
  20. Ort College for Teachers of Technology, Tel Aviv
  21. Shaanan Religious College of Education, Haifa
  22. Talpiot College of Education, Tel Aviv
  23. Wizo College of Design and Education, Haifa

Higher education reform

The Bologna Process

It is reported in the Wikipedia article on the Bologna Process that Israel is not eligible to participate:

Israel is not a party to the European Cultural Convention of the Council of Europe, although it has observer status. Hence, Israel participates in the meetings of the Council of Europe's Steering Committees under the European Cultural Convention – such as the CDESR – as an observer. While Israel is not a part of geographical Europe, it is a part of the UNESCO Europe Region. Israel is also a signatory party to the Lisbon Recognition Convention. Under the criteria defined in the Berlin Communiqué, it seems clear that Israel is not eligible for access to the Bologna Process.

Be that as it may, there are discussions within Israel on the issue. After all, several countries well outside Europe are aligning their offerings with the Bologna Process. The report EU-Israel: "The Sky is the limit" noted in 2006:

  • Israel has a high quality of education based on research. Thus this discussion is highly relevant, with the atmosphere favoring the Bologna Process.
  • In order to be attractive to the Bologna process Israel should emphasize the field of science, and the relations with the European academy will have to be based on the quality level.
  • The questions that should be asked regarding the government-university relationships: What does it mean? How far should the government go? Where does it lead? What can the Bologna Process do to save universities from governmental abuse? Additional questions may be: How does the European education attract students? How do we make Europe more attractive to Israeli students?


Administration and finance

The Planning and Budgeting Committee - a permanent subcommittee of the Council for Higher Education - submits the ordinary and development budgets for higher education to the government. It also:

  1. allocates the global approved ordinary and development budgets provided by the government
  2. proposes plans for the development of higher education, including financing
  3. ensures that the budgets of the institutions are balanced
  4. encourages efficiency in higher education institutions and coordinates between them.


Quality assurance

The Council for Higher Education is the licensing and accrediting authority for higher education in Israel. It is an independent statutory body composed of 19-25 members appointed by the President of the state, on the recommendation of the government.

The Council is empowered by law to advise the government on the development and financing of higher education and scientific research. Its Planning and Budgeting Committee (a permanent subcommittee) submits the ordinary and development budgets for higher education to the government; allocates the global approved ordinary and development budgets provided by the government; proposes plans for the development of higher education, including financing; and ensures that the budgets of the institutions are balanced. In addition, it encourages efficiency in higher education institutions and coordinates between them.

Quality Assessment Unit

In June 2003 the Council for Higher Education decided to establish a system for quality assessment of Israeli higher education with the aim of:

  1. Improving the quality of higher education in Israel.
  2. Strengthening the awareness to the quality assessment process and developing internal mechanisms in the institutions of higher education, that would continually evaluate the academic quality.
  3. Ensuring the continual integration of the Israeli academic system within the global academic systems.

The four stages in the model for quality assessment determined by the Council for Higher Education are:

  1. A self-evaluation process at the institutions being examined, accompanied by the preparation of a self-study report
  2. Quality assessment of the study program at the institutions being examined, carried out by an external committee appointed by the CHE, whose work will be based on the self-evaluation reports and visits to the institutions. , At the conclusion of the evaluation process, the committee will present a summary report to the CHE.
  3. Discussion and decision-making by the CHE.
  4. Publication of the CHE's decisions.

The Council also decided that for the first years of its operation the Quality Assessment Unit will only evaluate study-programmess and disciplines, postponing assessment at the institutional level until a future date.


Information society

Towards the information society

Information society strategy

Virtual initiatives

Interesting Virtual Campus Initiatives

Open University of Israel

"Students are required to study on their own, practice at home, actively participate in group learning activities, and meet course deadlines and requirements. Since 1996, the Open University has offered programs of study leading to a Master's degree: initially an M.Sc. in Computer Science, and since then, an M.A. in Democracy Studies, Biological Thought, a Master of Business Administration - MBA, and an M.A. in Education - Learning Technologies and Learning Systems. In contrast to the open admission policy for undergraduate studies, admission to graduate studies is contingent on fulfilment of certain requirements."
Source: General info
"Agreements for bridges to other universities have been reached with the universities after they examined the OUI's study materials, and compared the programs of study in both institutions, and after seeing the high level of courses and the quality of assessment at the Open University." : Source: Bridges to Other Universities
Relevant web page: Wikipedia entry on the OU of Israel


HighLearn

Fox education edition (HighLearn) from Britannica Knowledge Systems is a web-based learning content management system (LCMS) that has been designed for higher education and professional development needs. HighLearn is designed to assist institutions in effectively managing all aspects of their campus-wide e-learning. HighLearn was chosen by the Council for Higher Education in Israel (CHEI) as the infrastructure for the nationwide e-learning initiative. Since the beginning of project six years ago, HighLearn has been implemented at six of Israel’s eight leading universities, numerous colleges and more than twenty teacher training colleges. Thousands of faculty members have developed more than 10,000 blended courses, in which more than 150,000 students participate.

For more details see http://www.britannica-ks.com/Solutions/Education.asp


Center for Educational Technology

The Center for Educational Technology (CET) is an Israeli, non denominational NGO, dedicated to the advancement of the education system in Israel, in the Jewish world and around the globe. In its 37 years of activity, CET has invested significant resources in carrying out its social mission, and has established its expertise and reputation as a content developer, introducer of advanced technologies and the leader of next generation learning.

CET is also the developer of the "Virtual Campus", Israel’s online campus for teachers, which offers a range of courses in all subjects. Through the virtual campus, teachers can view lectures and share their professional knowledge at any time, and from anywhere. The campus was adopted by the Ministry of Education and now hosts more than 70,000 teachers.

For more see http://www3.cet.ac.il/English/pages/Home.aspx. There appear to be strong similarities with Becta including use of the phrase Next Generation Learning.


ORT Aviv Virtual School

The [ORT Aviv Virtual School], established together with the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in 1997, is a pioneering attempt to harness new information technologies in an effort to enrich and improve the way in which children learn. This is done through the introduction of internet-based curricular modules (“virtual courses”) into the conventional classroom.

From computer labs in member schools or from home, students access specially designed courses on the web and carry out designated activities and assignments. Each course is supported by a site coordinator who manages the web components of the course, trains classroom teachers in the use of the materials, and provides assistance to teachers and students during the running of the course.

Re.ViCa Case-study

None.

Lessons learnt

None.


References

A very useful survey paper is THE E-LEARNING EXPERIENCE IN ISRAEL HIGHER EDUCATION: CURRENT STATUS AND CHALLENGES FOR THE FUTURE, by Gila Kurtz et al - http://www.biu.ac.il/bar-e-learn/article_Kurtz.doc

This could be drawn on for an expanded version of this country report.


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