School funding looks set to play an important role in this Israel’s election campaign after figures showed a big difference between secular and religious children, and between Arab and Jewish students.
Among other things, the statistics show that Arab students from less stable socio-economic backgrounds were allocated 42% less money than a Jewish child in the same position.
The newly-released government data, dating from 2012, follows Education Minister Shay Piron’s resignation last week, which prompted officials to disclose the information.
It shows that students in secular Jewish primary schools got up to 15% less state funding than those in private Charedi or national religious schools. The private Charedi schools are run by Shas and United Torah Judaism – two political parties that were, until last year, members of the Israeli government. State funding for them is anchored in a 1991 agreement.
At secondary school level, Arab students from a weak socioeconomic background received 42% less ministry funding than Jewish peers, while Jewish students at national-religious high schools got 15% more than their secular counterparts.
Efforts to correct the imbalance by outgoing Finance Minister Yair Lapid hit a legislative hurdle before he was sacked last week by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who immediately called new elections.