Sunday, April 17, 2011

Seeking education for our joint future together


Michal Korach

On the individual level, educational background, and particularly higher education, is positively correlated to a person’s income level and quality of life.  On a national level, it corresponds to the country’s level of socio-economic development on a whole.  Higher education is the “black gold” of the global age, and it importance is all the more pronounced in Israel, where the main resource is human capital.  

Newly-released data from the census performed in December 2008 by the Israel Central Bureau of Statistics make it possible to classify Jerusalem’s neighborhoods by levels of education. 

This data reveals that the break-up of educational background (by highest degree earned) among Jerusalem’s population is similar to the national average.  Thirty six percent of Jerusalem’s residents aged 15 and above had completed high school (58% of which had completed their matriculation exam requirements), as compared with a national high-school graduation rate of 40%, of which 57% had also completed their matriculation exam requirements.  Eleven percent of Jerusalem’s population has non-academic post-high school education (compared with a national rate of 12%) and 22% held baccalaureate or post-baccalaureate degrees (compared with a national rate of 23%). 

Significantly enough, Jerusalem has an extremely high percentage of men who studied in a yeshivah – 27% compared with a national rate of 7%.  Of Israeli cities with 100,000 residents or more, only Bnei Brak had a higher percentage of males who had studied in yeshivah – 67%. 
The highest percentage of university graduates with a baccalaureate degree or higher was found in the neighborhoods of Rasqo, Giva’at Mordechai, German Colony, Old Katamon, Rehavia, French Hill, Abu-Tur, Baqa’a and Yamin Moshe.  The lowest percentages of university graduates, which varied between 2% and 10%, were found in the Ultra-Orthodox neighborhoods of Geula, Mea Shearm, Sanhedriya, Tel Arza, Romema, Makor Baruch and Ramat Shlomo. 

Jerusalem’s Ultra-Orthodox population is, by no account, homogenous with regard to education.  Some heavily Ultra-Orthodox neighborhoods boast a relatively high proportion of university educated residents, such as Har Nof (28%) and Givaat Shaul (20%). 

For many years, it was rather uncommon for Jerusalem’s Ultra-Orthodox populations (mainly the male population) to seek higher education, and particularly in academic channels, presumably because the men dedicated themselves to their religious studies.  Over the past years, this trend has been reversed, following increased awareness of the need to incorporate the Ultra-Orthodox population in the workforce.  One of the means for achieving this goal has been to increase access to and participation in higher education. 

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