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Improvements in Education to Support Egyptian Youth

The Population Council has a history of important and influential research in Egypt. In 1997, the council implemented the Adolescence and Social Change in Egypt survey. In 2009, the Survey of Young People in Egypt reached 15,000 young people from 11,000 households. Most recently, in 2014, 10,000 of the young people from the 2009 survey were interviewed for a second time.

Data from these surveys is critical to evaluate the challenges that Egyptian youth are facing in the transition of life before and after the revolution in Egypt. Additionally, Egypt’s population currently has a high percentage of youth that will determine the future of the country.

Data was gender-disaggregated in order to more clearly understand what kinds of programs can best empower women and girls. Data collected included information on health, education and employment.

The progress and improvements needed in the education sector deserve particular attention and demonstrate the complexity of changes in Egypt.

One of the most exciting advancements in the region is the nearly universal primary school enrollment. In 2014, more than 95% of youth aged 13 to 18 had attended school.

However, further analysis reveals that many youths still do not complete their basic education even if they had attended school for at least some period of time. In addition, there is clear gender inequality related to education. Twenty-one percent of women aged 25 to 34 were illiterate in sharp contrast to eight percent of men in this same age range.

Education quality is a critical factor in addition to education enrollment and regular attendance. Education through route memorization is not likely to provide students with the skills they will need to succeed in life. However, “40 percent of students report teachers ‘always’ only want students to memorize” while only “9 percent report that teachers encourage students to express their opinion.”

Furthermore, quality of basic education is lacking. Among youth who had attended five years of school, 50% cannot read, 50% cannot write and 40% cannot perform basic math.

While Egypt may be headed in the right direction with increased school enrollment, there is an unmet need for high quality education. The youth of Egypt represent the future of the country, and it is possible for the country to prosper if this unmet need is recognized and addressed.

Iliana Lang

Sources: Population Council 1, Population Council 2
Photo: Japan Times