In general the degree of education in Israel is high, although there are differences between the different ethnic groups within the country. Every child has the right to receive eleven years of free education, from kindergarten to the 10th grade. Literacy is 97.5 percent (CIA, 2012). 52 percent of the population aged 15 or older enjoys 5 to 12 years of schooling, 22.5 percent enjoys 13 to 15 years.
Inhabitants of development towns (mostly Mizrahi and today also Ethiopian for example) historically had fewer opportunities and were forced into low paid or unskilled labour. These imbalances are still seen today; students from development towns score lower than students from more affluent localities. University enrolment is also almost half of that among students from affluent towns. Palestinian citizens in Israel score even lower, and in 2006-2007 only 5.2 percent of 20-29 years old were enrolled in a university, compared to 10.2 percent of the same age group from affluent (Jewish) localities. The numbers at polytechnics are not much better: 9.1 percent of 20-29 years old from affluent communities were enrolled, compared to 5.5 percent from development towns and 2.4 percent from Palestinian localities. The total state budget for education in Israel is 41.8 billion NIS (11.8 billion USD) (2013), slightly higher than the defence budget. The total expenditure on education is 7.2 percent of GDP in 2012, which is higher than in most of the member states of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). 13.6 percent of total expenditure was spent on education in 2012.