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State Comptroller Joseph Shapira hands Knesset Speaker Edelstein annual report, May 8 Photo: Courtesy of Knesset
Despite the government’s significant efforts to advance the integration of Ethiopian immigrants into Israeli society, gaps still remain in various fields such as welfare, education and employment, according to the State Comptroller’s Report released on Wednesday.
As of 2012, some 120,000 citizens of Ethiopian origin live in Israel, as stated in the document, representing some 1.5 percent of the population. A third of them were born in Israel.
In the last few years, the country has seen an average of 1,500 immigrants from Ethiopia per year, half the rate of 10 years ago.
The report pointed out that over the past 20 years, the State of Israel has taken important measures and invested hundreds of millions of shekel to advance their integration through national programs.
Nevertheless, problems remain, the report stated.
In the field of education, the report revealed that in the 2010-2011 academic year, only 1,000 out of the 12,546 students enrolled in pre-academic programs were of Ethiopian origin.
Some 28.5% of Ethiopians dropped out of the programs compared to 22% for the rest of the students.
Among the Ethiopians who finished the pre-academic programs, more than half did not go on to study at universities, compared to 41% for the rest of the students.
In addition, the dropout rate for Ethiopian students who began their studies in 2011 was 19%, some 8% higher than the rest of students. In private colleges, 13.5% of Ethiopian students dropped out, compared to only 10% for the rest of the population.
Also, out of 22,000 engineering and technology students, only 194 were Ethiopian.
Over the past few years, immigrants joining the IDF have made up about a fifth of the general number of soldiers.
The majority of these olim come from the former Soviet Union and Ethiopia.
According to data presented in the report, 5,800 Ethiopian soldiers served in the army at the end of 2010. In that same year, 2,430 of them had begun their service. The report stated that despite their high motivation to join the IDF, Ethiopian soldiers tend to experience problems during their service. In 2010, only 9% of them had gone through professional training and took courses for their military positions.
The report also showed that Ethiopians are much less represented than the rest of the population in government roles and the public sector. But in local authorities and municipalities, Ethiopians are more represented than they are in other fields.
According to the report, despite investing significantly in the integration of Ethiopian immigrants, the Israeli government has never evaluated the effectiveness of these measures, which represents “great waste.”
“Improving the situation of the Ethiopian community in Israel in these fields will advance, in the best possible way, their integration into the general Israeli society, both in terms of their socioeconomic conditions as well as in their feeling of belonging,” the report stated.
The state comptroller suggested that the issue of integrating Ethiopian immigrants into Israeli society should be handled by one exclusive body that will “see the big picture” and better coordinate between the different areas of concern.