Thursday marked the start of the new school year in Israel, and the Shomron (Samaria) Regional Council also marked this special day by noting a record growth of ten percent in the number of students. This figure is more than seven times than the national average in Israel.
A policy by the Ministry of Defense has placed countless obstacles in the construction of classrooms in the region, causing many schools to operate out of overcrowded caravans. The growth in the number of students forced the Shomron Regional Council to open sixty new classrooms in portables instead of permanent structures, but the Council is not giving up and is continuing to work through massive pressure of ministers and Knesset members and with the assistance of the Minister of Education to continue and finish the construction of permanent buildings.
14,109 children began the school year on Thursday in the Samaria Regional Council. 2,115 of them attended the local daycares and 2,593 children began their school year in 98 kindergartens. 700 students began first grade.
26 new nursery schools and classrooms opened on Thursday in the Shomron Regional Council. There are nine schools in the area, both state and state-religious, four Talmud Torah schools, one special education school, and one additional state school that is currently under construction.
The Shomron Regional Council has 30 communities and 14 young neighborhoods known as outposts. About 30,000 inhabitants live in the region, which has one of the highest birth percentages in the country: 43.4% of the residents are children under the age of 17 and only 2% are adults over 65.
Samaria’s education system is considered one of the best in the country, with about 70% of students entitled to a matriculation certificate, compared to the national average of 56%. As well, 17% of the Shomron Regional Council's residents are students in institutes of higher education.
Gershon Mesika, the head of the Shomron Regional Council, who toured schools and kindergartens throughout Judea and Samaria Thursday morning, said: “Despite the obstacles Samaria is growing rapidly. The amazing growth figures in the education system in Samaria make all of Israel happy.”
“The children must be removed from the political game,” Mesika added. “We expect the national government chosen by the people to stop the persecution and freezing and allow the children of Samaria to have the same learning conditions in their classrooms as all other students everywhere else in the State of Israel.”
On Wednesday, Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin (Likud) visited the children in the Samaria town of Itamar on their first day back to school. During the visit he expressed his admiration for the children.