studentsFrank Mecklenburg

Almost half the state schools that qualified for “excellence awards” were from the religious sector, figures released by the Education Ministry Sunday showed. Forty percent of the 261 schools that qualified for the cash prizes among junior high and high schools were affiliated with the Religious Zionist state school movement. 

The awards are based not necessarily on the highest academic achievement, but on the greatest improvements in scores and other achievements on internal school and standardized tests.

Among the criteria is an increase in achievement for students from a wide variety of economic and ethnic backgrounds, showing that the school is serious about educating even students that may have had difficulties due to home or personal issues. In addition, points were given for the percentage of students who enter the IDF or National Service after graduation, how much volunteer work students did, and other “values-oriented” criteria.

Education Minister Naftali Bennett congratulated the schools, saying that “values are no less important than scores, and we have tried to express this with these awards. We want our graduates to be better, more moral citizens with better values, and we strive to ensure that schools excel not only in education, but in areas such as voluntarism as well.”