Education in Israel

Education in Israel refers to the comprehensive education system of Israel. The education system consists of three tiers: primary education (grades 1-6, approx. ages 6-12), middle school (grades 7-9, approx. ages 12-15) and high school (grades 10-12, approx. ages 15-18). Compulsory education takes place from kindergarten through to 12th grade. The school year begins on September 1, ending for elementary school pupils on 30 June, and for middle school and high school pupils on 20 June.

Education in Israel is highly valued in the national culture with its historical values dating back to Ancient Israel as education was viewed as one of the fundamental blocks of Ancient Israelite life and civilization. Israeli culture views higher education as the key to higher mobility and socioeconomic status in Israeli society. The emphasis of education within Israeli society goes to the gulf within the Jewish diaspora from the Renaissance and Enlightenment Movement all the way to the roots of Zionism in the 1880s. Jewish communities in the Levant were the first to introduce compulsory education for which the organized community, not less than the parents, was responsible for the education of the next generation of Jews. With contemporary Jewish culture's strong emphasis, promotion of scholarship and learning and the strong propensity to promote cultivation of intellectual pursuits as well as the nation's high university educational attainment rate exemplifies how highly Israeli society values higher education.

Israel's populace is well educated and Israeli society highly values education. As the Israeli economy is largely scientific and technological based, the labor market demands people who have achieved some form of higher education, particularly related to science and engineering in order to gain a competitive edge when searching for employment. In 2012, the country ranked second among OECD countries (tied with Japan and after Canada) for the percentage of 25- to 64-year-olds that have attained tertiary education with 46 percent compared with the OECD average of 32 percent. In addition, nearly twice as many Israelis aged 55-64 held a higher education degree compared to other OECD countries, with 47 percent holding an academic degree compared with the OECD average of 25%. It ranks fifth among OECD countries for the total expenditure on educational institutions as a percentage of GDP. In 2011, the country spent 7.3% of its GDP on all levels of education, comparatively more than the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development average of 6.3% and as a result has fostered an education system that helped transform the country and rapidly grow its economy over the past 70 years.

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. Many international business leaders and organizations such as Microsoft founder Bill Gates and the technology giant IBM have praised Israel for its high quality of education in helping spur Israel's economic development.