People and Society, Education
forms of adult education, Haifa University, central challenges, Bar-Ilan University, Ben Gurion University
The quality of Israel’s education system and the high literacy rate of its people reflect the importance of education in the Jewish tradition. Absorption and integration of immigrant Jewish children from many countries and cultures continue as the central challenges. The Compulsory Education Law of 1949 and subsequent amendments provide for free and compulsory schooling for children aged 5 to 16 and additional free but not compulsory education to age 18. In practice about 90 percent of school-age children complete compulsory education. Jewish children attend either state secular or religious schools, both with instruction in Hebrew. Arab and Druze children attend separate schools emphasizing their history, religion, and culture, with instruction in Arabic. Some secondary schools specialize in technological, agricultural, military, or religious studies. There are also private religious schools affiliated with ultra-Orthodox groups and Christian denominations. Literacy rates are very high among youth in both communities and for both sexes.
Postsecondary educational opportunities include universities as well as vocational and other adult education. Most students complete compulsory military service—three years for men and two years for women—before pursuing higher education. Universities, which operate under the authority of the Council for Higher Education, include the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Bar-Ilan University in Ramat Gan, Tel Aviv University, Haifa University, and Ben Gurion University of the Negev in Beersheba. The Open University of Israel, established in 1974 in Tel Aviv-Yafo, allows students to learn through distance education and other forms of self-study. Other forms of adult education are especially important in Israel due to the high number of adult immigrants with varying levels of education in their home countries. Vocational and adult education subjects include nursing, teacher training, architecture, Hebrew language, art, music, and architecture.
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