Is Education in Israel Really Free?
The 2015/2016 academic year is just around the corner. Parents have already paid many hundreds if not thousands of shekels for their children's stationery supplies, books, uniforms, backpacks etc. and they will still be required to pay more.
But what about the free education law in Israel?
The compulsory education law in Israel states that every pupil is entitled to free public schooling irrespective of their parent's financial status. However, in reality things are somewhat different.
In a Hebrew article, Y-Net reporter, Shachar Chai reported on 23rd August;-
According to the law every child is required to pay a 49 shekel per year fee for health insurance. (This seems reasonable to us. Our children's health is paramount and a school nurse administering first-aid or giving inoculations if/when required is logical). Last month though, the Ministry of Education approved a list of "special payments" parents will be required to make for the coming academic year. Note that these payments are not categorized as, or called school fees and they include charges for the end of year party, other class parties, local PTA fees, national PTA fees, school outings and enrichment programs as well as fees for certain text-books or work-books.
According to the table above, this is what you will be paying for:
- Pre-primary: Parents will be paying 217 shekels per child
- 1st and 2nd graders: Parents will be paying 507 shekels per child
- 3rd and 4th graders: Parents will be paying 532 shekels per child
- 5th graders: Parents will be paying 658 shekels
- 6th graders: Parents will be paying 868 shekels
- For Junior High, parents will be paying between 993 - 1,134 shekels per child
- Parents of High School students will be paying between 1186 and 1339 shekels per child
Over and above these 'special payments', certain schools only, provide meals for the children. Depending on the economic circumstances of the parents these meals may be free or they may cost 6 shekels per meal. This adds 1,314 shekels per child per year to the list of expenses. (In our opinion this is quite outrageous. This program is specifically for parents earning well below minimum wage and in fact, most of them probably can't afford 6 shekels per day)
Added to this is a list of so-called "voluntary payments" parents will be asked to make. The annual amount will be between 125 - 450 shekels per child per year.
Then there is the 'Tochnit Limudim Nosefet" (TL"N) - an additional learning program. There is the basic TL"N which covers after-school activities and is limited to an additional 5 hours per week. This costs between 885 - 1,150 shekels per child per year.
There is also a special TL"N which gives 10 hours per week instead of 5. This will cost between 1,150 - 1,770 shekels per child.
So if you thought education in Israel was free, think again and get your check book ready.
The school may give you an option of a payment plan (Heb: tashloomim). Pay with checks if possible. If you pay with your credit card you might be charged with extra credit fees.
The full Hebrew article is here: http://www.ynet.co.il/articles/0,7340,L-4692861,00.html
We wish you the very best of luck!