5 Year “Grace-Period” for Education in East Jerusalem has Ended


In February 2011, the High Court of Justice ruled in a petition filed by ACRI that the state had violated the right of East Jerusalem students to free public education. The court gave the Jerusalem Municipality and the Ministry of Education a period of five years, until February 2016, to resolve the shortage of classrooms. The court stated that if public education was still inaccessible to East Jerusalem students after 5 years, then the state would be obligated to pay for the tuition of students who enrolled in semi-private educational institutions in Jerusalem.


Since the judgment was handed down, the municipality and the ministry have adopted certain measures to reduce the shortage of classrooms in public schools and kindergartens. However, there is still a large gap, which has continued to grow as a result of the natural increase in the number of students over the years.


Out of 105,405 Palestinian students in Jerusalem:

Only 41% are enrolled in official municipal schools;
41% are enrolled in schools with a recognized but unofficial status; and
17% are enrolled in private schools.
The condition of 43% of the classrooms in municipal schools is inadequate.
Between the years 2009-2014, 194 classrooms were built in municipal schools and an additional 211 are in various stages of planning.
The school dropout rate is 26% in 11th grade and 33% in 12th grade.



Palestinian students constitute 40% of all students in Jerusalem. Due to the tremendous shortage of classrooms in the official municipal education system in East Jerusalem, only 41% of Palestinian students are enrolled in the official system. The numbers are even lower in the secondary education system: While 22,550 Palestinian children attend official elementary schools, only 15,824 continue to official high schools, due to the sharp decline in the number of classrooms – from 832 classrooms in elementary school to 723 in high school.


A significant portion of existing classrooms in the official education system in East Jerusalem are inadequate: In the current school year, 711 inadequate school classrooms and 109 inadequate kindergarten classrooms are in use in East Jerusalem. These classrooms constitute 43% of the total number of classrooms in the official education system in East Jerusalem.


During 2009-20114, 194 new classrooms were built in the official schools and kindergartens. In addition, during this period 157 classrooms were rented; and approximately half of those, 78 classrooms, were rented in 2014. The construction of 211 additional school and kindergarten classrooms is planned for the coming years. Even the construction of these new classrooms will not resolve the need to increase the number of classrooms in the official education system and to shut down the classrooms that are of an inadequate standard.


The school dropout rate among Palestinian students in Jerusalem is much higher than the average rate in Israel, and it is also high compared to the rate in the West Bank. In 9th grade, the dropout rate is 9%; in 10th grade it is 16%; in 11th grade 26%; and in 12th grade 33%.


By contrast, in the Arab education system in Israel the dropout rate stands at 4.6% in 11th grade, and 1.6% in 12th grade. In the Hebrew education system in Israel (state, state-religious and ultra-Orthodox), the dropout rate stands 5.4% in 11th grade, and 1.4% in 12th grade.


The municipal budget for the prevention of school dropout in East Jerusalem was NIS 3 million in 2015. This reflects a significant increase, but according to the estimates of the Jerusalem Education Administration (MANHI), NIS 15 million is required in order to comprehensively address the issue of school dropout among Palestinian students.



HCJ 5373/08 Abu Lavda v. Minister of Education
Response of the appointee responsible for implementing the Freedom of Information Act in the Jerusalem Municipality (26 March 2015) in response to a request by the Association for Civil Rights in Israel on the topic of education in East Jerusalem.
Correspondence between the Association for Civil Rights in Israel and the Chairperson of the Knesset Committee on Education (9 February 2014) on the topic of dropout rates in East Jerusalem.
Education System Yearbook 2014/15 for the Jerusalem Director of Education
Israeli Statistics Yearbook 2014 – Central Bureau of Statistics, Table 8.35.

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Categories: East Jerusalem, Right to Education

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