The State of Israel is a relatively young country that formed in 1948. Israel is a country of immigrants, with inhabitants from over 80 countries.
This has resulted in a variety of population groups, with great diversity in ethnic and cultural backgrounds and religious beliefs. Approximately 76 per cent of the population are Jewish, 20 per cent Arab (predominantly Muslim) and the remaining 4 per cent are Druze, Christians and other groups.
What does the country do to educate that population? How much do you know about the education system in Israel?
If you don't know much, I will give you an idea during this week. But before that let me give you the context. I am part of the Innovation in Education Tour (from 10-16th Dec) being organized by Vibe Israel, which is a philanthropic-business initiative to improve Israel’s global positioning. Selected people from the US and India are here to explore Innovation in Education. Over the week, we'll be crossing the country, meeting the people, places, companies and organizations that are making Israeli education innovative! I will talk about what we did in the first day in the second half of the article.
Israelis are among the most schooled people in the world. The Israeli education system has been praised for various reasons, including its high quality and its major role in spurring Israel's economic development and technological boom. 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.
Higher education in Israel is the responsibility of the Council for Higher Education, or CHE. Higher education includes both undergraduate and graduate programmes, and is provided by institutions that are divided into four categories by the CHE: universities (9 in total), academic institutions (36), academic colleges for education (23) and academic programmes in colleges under the academic auspices of universities (4).
What we have seen till now
The day 1 started bright and early, with Joanna Landau, CEO, Vibe Israel with whom we had a great conversation on what breeds so much creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship in Israel. Joanna was amazing in highlighting the key reasons behind that which can be summarized as:
- Ethnic Diversity
- Legacy of Entrepreneurship
Then, we got the chance to meet Eyal Ram, who walked the bloggers through the uniqueness of the Israeli educational system. How Eyal Ram, Director of Educational Workers Administration, Ministry of Education puts it is that the Israeli education system is a "Centralized" system. The Ministry of Education is responsible for school curricula, educational standards, supervision of teaching personnel, and construction of school buildings. The Israeli education system offers a high standard of education and is strongly underpinned by the goals of imparting civic values, knowledge of Jewish heritage, technological and analytical skills, as well as a broad general knowledge base to students.
He also shared:
- the number of schools which is 4200 with over 2 million kids,
- the great practices of Project based learning he has done and scaled in the system,
- the partnerships he has been able to make to accomplish what PBL has to offer to kids across the school levels of primary, secondary and high school.
After that, we hopped on the van and drove up north to the Mevo'ot Yam youth village, where marine studies, sports, and a unique sea-side learning environment is doing wonders to underprivileged youth, instilling leadership, coping skills, independence and all round development of children. Being one of the biggest boarding school, it is serving over 1350 students with 400+ part of the boarding school with the philosophy of believing in the kid so that he can do wonders.
Mevo’ot Yam is a unique marine youth village that motivates its students to excellent academic and social achievements. The marine environment is both a tool and a goal in and of itself.
Moshe Dolev, Director of the youth village shared that "We strive to provide our student with a meaningful experience by emphasizing the personal relationship between the students and the staff. We educate our students to take a leading role among their peers and also later in life, during their army service and as adult members of society. We believe that developing the professional aspect of the education while placing the striving to excellence, as top value will motivate the students to fulfill their individual potential both in the academy and in the community. Our youth village is comprised of three sections working closely together: school, boarding school and the department of marine agriculture."
We were lucky to see some student learning demonstrations which were seriously university level research and projects (Pics below - here in context of Marine ecology, biology and Mariculture). The school proudly partners with Israel's Nature Authority and other colleges so that students get the opportunity to do laboratory and research work with professionals and be ready for real world things. The university collaboration and research with experts is still made fun and experiential here, which we would see during student demos. Do you know what these kids are being prepared for and where many of the kids get placed? They are going to either serve Israel's Navy or get prepared for a professional marine career.
All the #VibeEdu gang liked the fact that the school leaders had clear intention/aim on what they want to achieve with kids, and how they have directly connected it to what they are going to do after they pass out from school. The live testimonials from students showed their love for the practical and experiential ways of learning in the school.
I think if you ask me why should we care about what's happening in education in Israel? The answer to that would be the fact that it is full of creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship and there's a lot to learn from it.
Though there is always a scope for improvement, but the Israeli educational system is already seeing a lot of innovation by the government, foundations, entrepreneurs, the community and individuals in general. I am eager to see more over the week.
This is my first time in Israel but from what I have seen, I think the Israelis believe a lot in the quote by Albert Einstein that "Creativity is contagious, pass it on".