Israel is World’s Fourth Most-Educated Country

September 16, 2014

2 min read

According to data released by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), Israel ranks fourth in education worldwide.  The education systems of 34 OECD member countries, as well as Argentina, Brazil, China, Colombia, India, Indonesia, Latvia, Russia, Saudi Arabia and South Africa, were studied.  The results were collected and published in a document called Education at a Glance 2014.

Israel has the fourth largest proportion of tertiary (university or equivalent) educated adults among OECD countries and their affiliates.  In Israel, roughly 46 percent of adults held a tertiary degree as of 2012, compared to 33 percent, which is the OECD average.  Unusually, older adults (ages 55-64) in Israel were more likely than their younger counterparts to hold such a degree (47 percent vs. 45 percent).

Over 90 percent of young adults have obtained upper secondary qualifications.  Israelis also tend to begin their post-secondary education at a later age, since military service is compulsory.

On the other end of the educational journey, 86 percent of Israeli three-year-olds are enrolled in early childhood education.  In other OECD countries, the average is only 70 percent.


All this is despite the fact that Israel spends less per student on their education than many other OECD countries.  The country spent somewhat more than $7 per 100 students in 2011 – nearly one-quarter less than the OECD average of $9 per 487 and the ninth lowest expenditure per student among OECD countries.

However, when measured as a percentage of Israel’s GDP, Israel jumps to sixth place, as that sum represents 7.3 percent of the GDP, 1.2 percent more than the OECD average.  This may be due to Israel’s unusually large student population — 31 percent, as opposed to just 24 percent in other OECD countries.  Israel has also increased its spending on education by 30 percent from 2005 to 2011, while other countries’ increased expenditure was only 17 percent.  Overall, 25 percent of educational funding in Israel comes from private sources.

Teachers’ working conditions were also analyzed.  Israel has one of the highest student-to-teacher ratios, and salaries are comparatively low.  However, the improvement in teachers’ conditions since 2000 is one of the greatest in the OECD, and salary progression for a lower secondary teacher in Israel is among the world’s most rewarding.

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