For the first time in 15 years, enrollment in state secular and religious schools in Jerusalem has increased, reflecting the start of a possible turnaround in the demographics of the capital city.
The population of Jerusalem is about one-third ultra-Orthodox and one-third Arab, and both of those sectors are growing rapidly. Many non-religious or national religious residents have left the capital in recent years; however, the increase in enrollment in the state schools indicates a possibility that this trend is reversing.
Enrollment in state-run secular elementary schools increased to 11,133 students in 2012, up from 11,024 students in 2011, according to a statistical report released for Jerusalem Day on Sunday. State-run religious primary schools also saw a rise to 11,003 students in 2012, up from 10,872 students in 2011.
The municipality credits education reforms for the increased enrollment.
State-run elementary schools in both the secular and religious school systems also saw an increase of 4% in matriculation rates, after a decade and a half of decline.
Statistics from the Jerusalem Institute for Israel Studies (JIIS) annual statistical report on Jerusalem also show that, for the 2011-12 school year, 65% of Jewish children are enrolled in ultra-Orthodox elementary schools. Some 47,860 pupils were registered in the ultra-Orthodox school system, compared to only 24,054 in the state system.
The JIIS report shows Jerusalem’s population at the end of 2010 at 789,000, of which 504,000 (64%) were Jewish and 285,000 (36%) Arab.
During 2010, Jerusalem’s population increased by 2.1% overall, with a rise of 1.4% in the Jewish population and 3.3% among Arabs. However, in recent years there has been a change in the birthrates in the city, with an increase in Jewish birthrates and a decline in Arab rates. In 2010, the birth rate among Jews in Jerusalem was 4.2% compared to 3.9% for Arabs residents.
The ultra-Orthodox and Arab populations of Jerusalem continue to grow, while the secular Jewish population has been on the decline. Fully 29% of capital’s Jewish residents are ultra-Orthodox, 21% are religious, and 19% are secular.