The Israeli education system is strongly underpinned by the goals of imparting civic values, technological and analytical skills, and knowledge of Jewish heritage to students.
Schools in Israel are generally more informal compared with those in America and the UK and teachers and principals are addressed by their first names. The curriculum tends to be broader than that found in North American schools and emphasises mathematics, science and foreign language learning.
Kindergarten and elementary schools follow a progressive model, valuing experience and social exchange, as well as creativity, play and emotional development.
Hebrew is the main language spoken in institutions of higher education, whereas Arabic is the language of instruction at Israel’s three teacher-training colleges. Despite this, many programmes and courses are taught in English.
The academic calendar year follows the Hebrew calendar.
Public education in Israel
Israel provides free and compulsory education for all children from the age of six through to 18 years. While tuition is free, textbooks and school supplies usually need to be purchased. Other fees are generally required for extra-curricular activities, such as school trips.
Although the public education system is of a generally high standard, many expats don't enrol their children in public schools as the language of instruction is in Hebrew.
Private education in Israel
Private schools in Israel follow the basic curriculum as set by the state, however, they follow different teaching standards and philosophies. As such, there are some English-language private schools in Israel, which might be an attractive option for expat children that don't speak Arabic or Hebrew.
Private schools can be very expensive for those earning a local salary, but the quality of education tends to be better than that of a public school. Those earning expat salaries will find that private education in Israel is considerably less expensive than in their home country.
Applying to a private school in Israel
Private schools can be highly competitive and many require rigorous testing before admitting a student. Students typically undergo verbal reasoning and English proficiency tests, a maths test and, in some cases, a science test. The head teacher may also interview prospective students.
International schools in Israel
There are also a number of international schools in Israel that expat parents can send their children to. The benefit of international schools is that they provide a high quality of education while also allowing for academic continuity, as many expat students are given the opportunity to continue with the curriculum of their home country. International schools in Israel also offer an extremely diverse cultural setting, as expat children will be classmates with students from all over the world.
A drawback of international schools is their school fees, which are considerably higher than that of both public and private Israeli schools. Most international schools in Israel are in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, and provide either the UK, US or French curriculum.
Colleges and universities in Israel
Israel has a total of eight large universities, most of which are based in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. Most courses are taught in Hebrew, however, some English courses are taught and accelerated Hebrew language learning programmes are offered which cater to foreign students who want to study in Israel.
Foreign applicants who wish to study in Israel must submit their high school diplomas to the institute that they are applying to. The strength of the diploma will then be weighed against the Israeli bagrut.
By law, the minimum length of study for a bachelor's degree is three years. Exceptions are nursing, engineering, architecture and law degrees, where degrees are granted after four years of study.
►See International Schools in Israel for a comprehensive list of international schools in the country.
Parent in Israel?
Are you an expat parent in Israel? We are always looking for local "expat experts" to share their experience with schools and education in Israel, and to answer forum questions for people moving or planning to move to Israel. Please contact us if you would like to contribute.
Are you an expat living in Israel?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Israel. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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