Education in Egypt: main challenges

Available in: :gb: English / :ar: Arabic


:gb: English version

Private education? What does this mean?

Private schools? Private lessons? Private university? the Egyptian citizen doesn’t recognize these words now after five years from the educational revolution which started with a demonstration from some parents who couldn’t be silent anymore about the situation of the educational system in egypt. They decided to demonstrate trying to occupy the schools to express their refusal to the current situation. What appeared to be a small demonstration at first touched the willingness of most parents to develop the educational system and children joined the demonstrations asking for their right to a proper education…

These citizens were calling for collaboration with the government and getting rid from the private sector, they asked for using the old abandoned buildings and change it to small schools ,they proposed investing the money spent on the private lessons or on the private schools’ fees in the enhancing the public educational sector ,ensuring that the public schools are public property for all the citizens of Egypt .

“ Free the education by occupying the education” was the slogan of this revolution and the government actually listened to the people’s demands and as a start pilot project the “Naseria “ school abandoned building was turned into a small school again . This simple idea provided money to build new schools from scratch and provided job opportunities for teachers who were waiting for a chance to get a job.

This was the end of private education in Egypt and today all the children of Egypt enjoy their right in the free public education.

Background discussion: Challenges in Education in Egypt

The main challenge of education in Egypt consists in the following: not every child that can go to school is able to do so – not enough schools and not enough space in schools – and teachers are usually underpaid/unqualified.

An interesting - and one that happened few decades ago - and impactful initiative would be for parents come in and they start a small school, organize initiatives. In Upper Egypt, there are already alternative schools - the challenge there and in the rest of the country might be to find and appropriate all empty spaces like mosques, abandoned factories, etc which are currently under-utilised and can be relatively easily converted to schools.

Currently, most people/parents afraid to speak up and express their frustration about public schooling and hoping it will change; it’s a usual practice to have teachers beat kids in public schools, allegedly in the name of discipline.

Due to a confluence of some political and cultural factors, education in Egypt started degrading since the end of 1980s and beginning 1990s. People at that time were also looking at schools that fit better for their kids.


##:ar: Arabic version

تعليم خاص؟! يعنى ايه؟

دروس خصوصية، مدرسة خاصة، جامعة خاصة، كلمات لا يتذكرها المواطن المصرى الان بعد مرور خمس اعوام على الثورة التعليمية التى بدات بمظاهرة بعض الاهالى الذين لم يعدوا يحتملوا السكوت على ما وصل اليه نظام التعليم فى مصر. قررت مجموعة من الاهالى التظاهر فى محاولة منهم لاحتلال المدارس و التعبير عن رفضهم للوضع الحالى. ما كان يبدوا كمظاهرة صغيرة في البداية فجر رغبة جميع الاهالى فى تحسين وضع التعليم فى مصر و انضم الاطفال للمظاهرات للمطالبة بحقهم فى التعليم.

المواطنين كانوا يدعون للتعاون مع الحكومة، و الانقطاع عن الاعتماد على القطاع الخاص. طالبوا باستخدام المبانى المهجورة و تحويلها لمدارس صغيرة. و تم اقتراح استثمار المبالغ الهاءلة التى كانت ستدفع للدروس الخاصة او فى المدارس الخاصة و توجيهها للمدارس الحكومية لتحسين القطاع العام، موءكدين ان مدارس الحكومة ملك عام لجميع افراد الشعب.

“حرر التعليم باحتلال التعليم” كان شعار الثورة، و بالفعل قامت الحكومة بالاستماع لمطالب الشعب و كبداية تم تحويل مبني مدرسة الناصرية فى وسط البلد الذى كان مهجور لسنوات طويلة لمدرسة صغيرة من جديد. و قد وفرت هذه الفكرة البسيطة اموال هاءلة كانت ستستخدم لبناء مدرسة جديدة من الاساس. و منحت فرص عمل لجميع المدرسين و المدرسات الذين كانوا ينتظرون دورهم فى طوابير التعيين.

و كانت هذه بداية نهاية التعليم الخاص، و اليوم يتمتع جميع اطفال مصر بحقهم فى التعليم العام الحر

هذه المقاله هى واحده من نتائج نقاشاتنا المستمره حول الاشياء التى لا نحبها فى المنظمات الكبيره التى تعمل فى مصر وكيفيه التعامل معها.يمكنك الانضمام لنا فى تطوير رؤى- جمعيه قابله للتنفيذ بناء على خطوات ملموسه- بمشاركتنا تجربتك الخاصه هنا http://goo.gl/wuZrWp

برجاء الدخول هناSpot the Future  لتتعرف اكثر على مشروع

http://goo.gl/qvDeVq

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start small?

Educational problems are huge, not just in Egypt but across the world: from infrastructure to what we teach our children and to the need of better teachers…

If we stick at the diagnosis phase, we’ll surely get stuck or get depressed. One question we could be asking ourselves is where can we look for positive examples? Can we build on these compared to (re)inventing the wheel? Curious what are the more recent Egyptian initiatives that are doing something in this regard, as small as they might be?  Do you have examples in your #futurespotters group? 

@2mavin thanks for writing this up, it’s hard to even begin so that’s courageous of you:)

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looking back from April 2019

… what happened since?

In a group of three we shared ideas, experiences, real life examples, and wrapped it all up in a short press release on recent developments in the Egyptian education system between 2014 and 2019.

Below we are sharing the fictitious Arabic newspaper article, the product of our imagination :slight_smile:

 
 

تعليم خاص؟! يعنى ايه؟ دروس خصوصية، مدرسة خاصة، جامعة خاصة، كلمات لا يتذكرها المواطن المصرى الان بعد مرور خمس اعوام على الثورة التعليمية التى بدات بمظاهرة بعض الاهالى الذين لم يعدوا يحتملوا السكوت على ما وصل اليه نظام التعليم فى مصر. قررت مجموعة من الاهالى التظاهر فى محاولة منهم لاحتلال المدارس و التعبير عن رفضهم للوضع الحالى. ما كان يبدوا كمظاهرة صغيرة في البداية فجر رغبة جميع الاهالى فى تحسين وضع التعليم فى مصر و انضم الاطفال للمظاهرات للمطالبة بحقهم فى التعليم. المواطنين كانوا يدعون للتعاون مع الحكومة، و الانقطاع عن الاعتماد على القطاع الخاص. طالبوا باستخدام المبانى المهجورة و تحويلها لمدارس صغيرة. و تم اقتراح استثمار المبالغ الهاءلة التى كانت ستدفع للدروس الخاصة او فى المدارس الخاصة و توجيهها للمدارس الحكومية لتحسين القطاع العام، موءكدين ان مدارس الحكومة ملك عام لجميع افراد الشعب. “حرر التعليم باحتلال التعليم” كان شعار الثورة، و بالفعل قامت الحكومة بالاستماع لمطالب الشعب و كبداية تم تحويل مبني مدرسة الناصرية فى وسط البلد الذى كان مهجور لسنوات طويلة لمدرسة صغيرة من جديد. و قد وفرت هذه الفكرة البسيطة اموال هاءلة كانت ستستخدم لبناء مدرسة جديدة من الاساس. و منحت فرص عمل لجميع المدرسين و المدرسات الذين كانوا ينتظرون دورهم فى طوابير التعيين. و كانت هذه بداية نهاية التعليم الخاص، و اليوم يتمتع جميع اطفال مصر بحقهم فى التعليم العام الحر

Further to that, we have reached out to existing networks of education reform activists, one of them is a closed group on fb, The Art of Hosting Meaningful Learning in Egypt, asking for their feedback.

We are also in touch with a group of people who are taking the idea of family-initiated small schools further and preparing to hopefully open some pilot schools later this year.

Another platform where practitioners are meeting to work together on new and alternative ways of learning and education in Egypt is Education Square https://ar-ar.facebook.com/educationsqu

We are looking forward to connect to and work with other practitioners from around the world.

Dina, Hayk and Uli

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some thoughts

building on ur conversation , what if we solved all the challenges that the public schooling has - what if we really had the best teachers and schools . and invested the money that goes into the private lessons and so on in that. 

I sometimes don’t feel that is the solution as the whole system of education to get graduates that are fit into the market economy doesn’t fit anymore. we need to have a shift in the way we think about that , we need to change the old narrative of this system and find another narrative that doesn’t fit into it , and I think one of the steps in order to do so is to learn from the “Experts” that are trying to get out of this system like the initiative from upper Egypt .

I also think this is a global problem even in the countries with the "best " educational system

I was just thinking out loud with u …and looking forward for ur feedback

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Edit

hey guys !

I added the arabic article in the arabic tab , and added the translated one in the original post .

I didn’t want to create a new post in order to continue the discussion here

please check the translation ,edit and change if u want :slight_smile:

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connection from twitter

Hey @labanita  here is @simam  from the art caravan as sara isn’t on twitter may be u can talk here .

I will send sara’s contact to u Uli anyway :slight_smile:

which solution?

hey @hazem

what do you mean by “I sometimes don’t feel that is the solution as the whole system of education to get graduates that are fit into the market economy doesn’t fit anymore.”? what are you refering to?

to the whole educational model !!

@Dina after reading it …It is not clear at all :D:D

I am referring to "the whole educational system " that doesn’t fit anymore into our way of life now .

to be more clear

The current educational model was designed in the 18th century during the enlightenment era and the industrial revolution. Till now there has been little change in this model  even with the exponential growth technologies the learning process in the classroom or even online is still the same.

The current compulsory schooling started in 1880 with some colonial intentions and influenced by Bentham’s utilitarian thoughts of “useful” curricula  within the industrial revolution economical system this model was successful to produce people with similar skills to join the market of the industries , but this doesn’t work efficiently anymore.

and it is a global problem not only in Egypt , that kids go to school not to learn but to get grades , which after that turns into money -and we all know that it doesn’t work this way anymore -  for example the participants of the workshop a big portion of them studied something and work in a different field -

and I think this model is collapsing along with other (political - economical )models , and since we are trying to “look over the edge” and find solutions I don’t think that having a good "formal schooling "system  is the solution . I don’t have one but I was suggesting to follow on the footsteps of the people who are already out or trying to get out of this system

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Yes!

We got interested in education also in the first Edgeryders iteration. It is fascinating – almost as if there were a completely new phase just behind the corner eating away at the shell of the old one. I wonder if we could compare notes across the different experiences, in Europe as well as in Egypt? Examples of edgeryders trying to find new models for education include:

Would you be interested in reaching out to these fine folks and trying to foster a discussion between the Egyptian and the European edgeryders?

wow alberto

I was actually trying to do something like this , was trying also to include democratic schools as an alternative that is out of the formal ways .

I really want to start the discussion , I have looking in the education issue for a while now , and I can hopefully get someone from a democratic school in Berlin to the discussion

u got me more excited … will look into the links u shared in the morning as I really need to sleep right now :slight_smile:

Exactly!

Well said, Hazem! We will talk about it in Tbilisi and try to find alternative ways of learning in our communities and try to get out of this system!

Alternative Models of Education

@hazem In that case, There are many people in Egypt who are now looking into this, Cilas is one of them, I think you are familiar with it. Megawra just had a recent event discussing alternative models of education and they had many participants as well sharing their thoughts and experiences. 

how about pushing things forward a bit

@dina yes I wish I could attend the last event about the alternatives for education . actually there are lots of efforts everywhere and forums discussing this issue . I don’t have a clear view of how to push things forward in this issue , CILAS is a very good example for this alternatives but what’s next how to scale up this impact . now I have a lot of tabs opened that I have to read first :smiley: and I will have a meeting this week with someone from a democratic school in berlin and will get back to the discussion with - hopefully a clearer view . but since I didn’t actually go through the discussion u had in cairo and the thing about privatizing education u touched upon in the article is quite an issue ( I can relate to that as I am studying in Sawiris university -TU Berlin Campus ELgouna ) I want to know ur opinions about how to "fast forward " the present in order to get to the future u talked about in the article. can U tell me more about ur own vision about that ?

Private vs. public

@hazem well @labanita was sharing her experience with her daughter’s education and among all the problems we discussed, the privatisation of the education experience is what we agreed would be a good starting problem to tackle.

I actually studied 2 years in the german university in Cairo which is a “prestigious” private university, but I left it and went to Malaysia and studied in a local university there. I am not gonna compare both universities because they are each very different, and each have their pros and cons, and am not gonna say that Malaysia has a good education system, they’ve got their share of corruption as well. But it got me thinking if I’d be willing to channel half the money i would have paid in the GUC to Helwan university instead, and get a better public education, for a chance to better the local university on the long run. If what we are missing is the budget then there is a good chance that this would work out.

For the quality of education itself, teaching methods and so on, I think the student’s attitude is a great player in that as well, specially in fields like Art and Design where it’s all hands on experience, it’s what you can make out of it. Even in a private university like the GUC if this is missing then even the best system would be useless. I’ve been hearing a lot of people recommending these uni graduates over these particular uni, and privatisation really plays a role in that, but to be honest you’ll find good and lousy designers having the same education background.

plz share ur experience -sorry for the late replay

@dina if u have time please share ur thoughts about more differences between GUC and Malaysia :) 

for my university now its really not a specific issue it’s just worth mentioning that studying "development " in “Elgouna” is weird :slight_smile:

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totally agree with u that the process depends on the attitude of the students " also can relate to that as my background is architecture" but if so why not to rethink the whole learning process according to the learner himself ?   for example a lot of people who ended up in this design education like courses may not have been here if they can choose from the very early beginning to learn what they love !!

some follow up, at last

hello everyone after some long silence, here at last some input from my side. Many people in Egypt are already connecting and have started to work on the alternatives and possible ways out of the current mess toward a more equitable education (system) for all. Some initiatives I am part of can be found on facebook for now, with some members overlapping into the edgeryders network already :slight_smile: Check for Education Square, the Egypt Family School group https://www.facebook.com/groups/610394449042100/ that established itself during the 24h education hackathon in March (http://eduhack14.wordpress.com/) building on Suzi Balaban’s work. I will eventually share all the links etc. but pls bear with me being a slightly technology-challenged older person - old enough to be listend to, ha!!! Thanks @ericzoetmulder for that glorious note!

insights on Education in Egypt

Hi all,

I think the problem will not be solved with updating the current educational system, it will be solved by a new parallel system that is efficient. the evidence here is that in egypt we have many people who spent their lives trying to enhance the system and it ended up all in vain. what I am proposing here is may be “for and by society education” that aims at making people able to learn alone. Check the link here it will help you in understanding what is the good education “that meets its purpose”.

http://blip.tv/learning-without-frontiers/noam-chomsky-the-purpose-of-education-5925460

http://blip.tv/learning-without-frontiers/noam-chomsky-the-purpose-of-education-5925460

can we see this in our future schools?

I’d like to share this video , hoping that our education will be at that level of technology someday :slight_smile:

technology is just a tool

hey @monarezk !

hopefully this technology would be sooner or later available  but the problem that we should always remember that technology is just a tool . like in the video this “futuristic” vision education or the learning process is happening in the traditional way even with this high tech - a classroom where a teacher has all the authorities giving the students his own vision or input - we should really rethink that .

couple of days ago I was in a democratic school - hopefully someone from the school can join the discussion- if not I will try to write my notes about this approach . but one of it was not to have any" superior " level over the children they can decide what to learn and when also they can decide what to eat and wear and so on … I will try to write a longer post soon :slight_smile:

we need an educational revolution

@Hazem , Technology is just a tool that’s right, but most of schools don’t have even computers  and if they had  students don’t have benefits of it  , they consider it like decoration issues (dont touch ) .

" a classroom where a teacher has all the authorities giving the students his own vision or input " that is a big problem , so I suggested that teachers should have some courses about how to work as teachers & schools need some control . 

waiting for your school visit details as soon as possible :) 

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