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Study finds wide educational gaps between Hebrew- and Arabic-speaking children

Jerusalem24– Half of Palestinian children living inside Israel struggle with reading comprehension, versus one quarter of their Jewish Israeli counterparts, according to a study conducted by the Israeli Education Ministry in December 2021.

The results further reveal gaps according to socioeconomic status and gender. The study took the form of an exam among all fourth graders within Israel.

The exam followed the same format for both Hebrew and Arabic speakers, with both groups of students taking the test in their native language.

There are three school systems in Israel. The first comprises secular Israeli schools that teaches a curriculum in Hebrew; the second is for state religious schools; and finally Arab (Palestinian) schools where the Israeli curriculum is taught in Arabic by Palestinian teachers.

A small number of Palestinian students attend the Israeli secular schools and learn in Hebrew.

Socioeconomic and gender gap

The results reflect significant differences between students according to their socioeconomic background.

The general average score stood at 300 points, out of a possible 400. The average score for students with higher socioeconomic status was 310, while the average score for students from lower socioeconomic classes was 278.

The results also show significant gaps among Palestinians depending on socioeconomic differences.

The average score for students from higher and mid-range socioeconomic classes was between 310 and 315 points, while the average score for pupils from lower socioeconomic groups was only 292 points.

The differences in scores between Bedouin and Druze students from Israel’s Arab community are also significant: Bedouin students scored 291 points on average, while non-Bedouin Arab and Druze students scored an average range of 302 to 308.

There is also a 14-point gap between Palestinian girls whose average stands at 307 points and their male counterparts who score 293. For Jewish Israeli students, the gender gap difference is slightly less marked with an 11-point difference in favor of girls.

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