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Israel Is Sitting on an Education Time Bomb

The achievement gap between Jewish and Arab students is a serious existential threat. The government must do everything in its power to correct it, but the chances of that actually happening are low.
The report of student achievement in Israel for the 2015-2016 school year, by their place of residence, underscores the huge disparities among the different groups that make up Israeli society. These disparities, which have vast socioeconomic impact, dictate separate paths in life for steadily growing populations. These figures ought to have pushed the people running the Education Ministry to make narrowing the gaps among the different segments of society an overriding goal of the new school year that opens tomorrow. But in the Netanyahu-Bennett government, which likes to put the interests of the sectors closest to it above the general welfare, the chances of this happening are low.
The data on qualification for the bagrut (matriculation certificate) from last year show dramatic differences between Jews and Arabs, and between pupils from the center of the country and those from the periphery. In many of the Arab and Haredi communities, the rate of students taking the maximum five units of math for the bagrut is especially low. In Immanuel, Bir al-Maksur, Rahat, Jisr al-Zarqa and Beitar Illit, no students took the bagrut at this level. In the periphery there was also a relatively low rate of students taking the highest level of the math bagrut: just 2 and 3 percent in Hatzor Haglilit and Ofakim, respectively, compared to 26 and 25 percent, respectively, in Kiryat Ono and Ramat Hasharon. A similar picture emerges with the advanced English bagrut.
The source of these disparities can be easily pinpointed. Data published in TheMarker show that from the day they are born, Israeli children are caught in a vicious circle of socioeconomic gaps that only grows as they progress through the school system. The Education Ministry is not the only body responsible for these divides, but it has the responsibility to reduce them as much as possible.
One cause of these gaps is the budgets that are allocated for students from different population groups. This starts in preschool and steadily increases until, by the end of high school, a Jewish student (from a low-income background) gets 35-68 percent more than an Arab student. Among the Jewish public, the religious sector gets clear priority – the average investment in a religious student in elementary school, for example, is 30 percent higher than the investment in a secular student. This dual discrimination – for the benefit of the religious and to the detriment of the Arabs – is an ongoing disgrace for the heads of the Education Ministry.
According to international indices, Israel has one of the world’s largest achievement gaps between outstanding students and weak ones. This internal threat is just as existential, perhaps even more so, than all the familiar and ever-changing security threats. The Israeli government is wrong not to declare war on these disparities. It will bear the responsibility for their heavy cost.

Haaretz Editorial

read more: http://www.haaretz.com/opinion/1.739468

Schermata 2016 08 31 alle 09.19.59

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Temple Mount temporarily closed to Jewish visitors after clashes with police

The Temple Mount was temporarily closed to Jewish visitors on Wednesday at the order of Jerusalem District Commander Yoram Halevy after Jews broke visitation rules at the holy site, police said. The Jewish visitors were expelled from the compound for bringing sacred books to the Mount and trying to pray there. After one of the individuals was cautioned, another took out a holy book, and the group was expelled. Meanwhile, renewed clashes erupted between protesters and Israeli security forces near the Lion's Gate in the Old City, where police used stun grenades against the demonstrators. A regular dynamic has developed involving clashes between Palestinians and Israel Police over the past several days near the Lion's Gate. Dozens of Palestinians are present at the site on a regular basis, urging devotion to the Al-Aqsa Mosque on the Temple Mount and condemning Israel. During Muslim prayer times, particularly the midday and nighttime prayers, hundreds and sometimes even thousands have been gathering there.

There have been outbreaks of violence during these periods, including stone-throwing or physical confrontations with the police. In most of these incidents, the police have been using stun grenades and sponge-tipped bullets to disperse the crowds. In a number of cases, journalists in the area have also suffered violence at the hands of the police. On Tuesday, Hassan Shaalan, a reporter for the Ynet news website, was struck by a policeman even after he identified himself as a member of the press. A group of Jerusalem-based journalists released a statement of condemnation over the incident and called on the police to permit reporters to do their jobs. The Jerusalem Police responded: "This involved an incident that took place in the course of violent disturbances of the peace that occurred in Jerusalem while the police were acting to remove the demonstrators from the street after some of them refused to vacate. The forces working on the scene are under constant threat to their lives. http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/1.802141

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