According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, Israel led Western nations in percent of GDP spent on education - 9.4 percent, compared to an average of 6.1 percent among developed nations. The picture is less dramatic with respect to per-student spending, since Israel's population is relatively young, but here too Israel ranks higher than some wealthier countries, such as Japan and France (from the Jerusalem Post, Sept. 1 1999).
Israel has a complete education system, starting from day-care (at 3 months old) through university education. "School attendance is mandatory from age 6 to 16 and free to age 18." That's a government quote, only the "free" part is not quite true (more on that later). Compulsory education starts at kindergarten (which can be started before 6 years old).
The quality of the education ranges from poor to excellent (and is usually on the good side). The quality of the facilities ranges from poor to decent (and is usually on the poor to fair side).
Ma-own - Day-care center in Hebrew. Day-care centers are operated by cities and towns (public centers), by religious institutions and by private individuals. Day-care requires payment though it is occasionally subsidized in certain areas or by certain institutions (such as a religious based day-care center).
Some centers will accept children as young as 3 months old. The charge for day-care starts around 600 shekel per month and goes up from there (depending on pick-up time, location in the country, meals, etc.) Day-care is considered relatively good throughout the country and usually has dedicated personnel.
Gan - Pre-school in Hebrew (literally "garden"). Pre-school (3 & 4 years old) programs are available throughout the country. Public centers and religious centers are available. Currently all require payment though again subsidies are occasionally available. Some pre-school programs offer transportation as well (pickup at your house or street-corner), for an additional fee.
Normal pre-school in Israel runs from 8:00 AM to 1:00 PM, 6 days a week (Sunday through Friday). Extended programs are available at some locations and after-hours programs at others (the after-hours programs opening up at 1:00 PM).
Pre-school is subsidized at 90% for new immigrants for their first 3 years.
Gan Chova - Kindergarten in Hebrew (literally "required garden"). Once again, public and religious centers are available. The cost of operation is covered by the government (split between the local city/town and the national Ministry of Education). However, the parent may have to pay some of these additional fees:
Snacks/drinks/school supplies - 10-50 shekel per month
School normally runs from 8:00 AM to 1:00 PM, 6 days a week (Sunday through Friday).
Primary School (1st-8th grade)
The government runs 2 tracks of public school for this age group, National School Secular and National Religious School. Additionally, there is a wide variety of religious and private schools for this age group as well (partially or fully government funded), including the Shas schools (religious Sephardi), Agudat Yisroel (religious Ashkanazi), plus many others (most Hassid groups have their own school system in the areas where they live, Chabad has schools in many parts of the country, etc.) Other special private schools exist as well (education in Russian with heavy focus on math & science in some parts of the country, education in English using U.S. methods in Jerusalem, education in Yiddish with no secular subjects in Jerusalem, Netanya, and other places, etc.)
School normally runs from 8:00 Am to 1:00 or 2:00 PM, 6 days a week (Sunday through Friday), with some schools dismissing at 12:00 on Fridays in the winter.
School is free, except for these REQUIRED extras:
The info here is going to be a little thin (so if you have better info, please let me know)...
At the high school level the religious and secular tracks diverge significantly. The majority of religious high schools offer dorming, and (especially for the boys) expect the students to sleep "on campus". The secular high schools operate more similar to a US model.
Within the religious high school sector, there are a variety of types/tracks/programs. Some offer religious only study, no secular subjects. Some offer some level of secular study and/or prepare for college and the army.
As high school progresses, the students are expected to take national competency examinations (similar to the Regents, for those from the northeast). College admission is dependent on passing these tests.
Fees for religious high schools range around NIS 10,000-15,000 per year.
(More info to follow as I come across it.)