7 Education Reforms Happening in EgyptEgypt has the largest school system in the Middle East with more than 18 million students. Additionally, the school system’s gender attendance rate is nearly equal due to Egypt’s open access to primary schools. However, as Egypt’s population rapidly grows, the quality of its education system decreases. The World Bank created the term “Learning Poverty” to describe children who lack basic reading comprehension skills by the age of 10. Egypt has had a significant problem with learning poverty. As a result, the Egyptian government has created the “Education 2.0” system to tackle this issue.

The Egyptian Ministry of Education has worked closely with the United States Agency of International Development (USAID) to create seven education reforms in Egypt. This is a $500 million reform investment and its reforms stretch from kindergarten to secondary school.

7 Education Reforms in Egypt

  1. Expanding Access to Early Childhood Learning: The Education 2.0 program works to build schools that include an early education program in students’ villages. The aim is for students to have an adequate grasp on the essential skills of reading, comprehension, writing, math and English by the third grade. These skills are especially critical for children to learn in their early childhood.
  2. Remedial Reading Programs: Egypt’s education reform stretches beyond incoming students by seeking out students in grades 4-9 who have fallen behind on the essential skills mentioned above. These programs intend to bring these students up to the same educational standard as the rest of their grade level.
  3. Implementing Learning Villages: Egypt has adopted the innovative approach of intergenerational education reform in vulnerable rural areas by teaching primary-aged children how to read as well as their mothers. This allows children to be able to be engaged in literacy work at school and at home.
  4. Improving General Assessment Skills: Previously, students were asked to directly memorize exam answers and the exams were often leaked beforehand. This severely limited long-term comprehension. The reformed education program endeavors to test students on understanding as opposed to memorization capacity.
  5. Revamping Teacher Training Programs: Teachers will be re-trained and re-licensed because it is crucial that their methodology changes to match education reform programming. Teachers must help convince students and parents that it is imperative for the education system to have a goal beyond passing exams. They also need adequate resources to focus their attention on students who are falling behind.
  6. Linking Education and Technology: While the Education 2.0 program was initially stagnant, the COVID-19 crisis has actually accelerated technological advances due to social distancing guidelines. Two companies, Promethean and the Egyptian Knowledge Bank, have also aided in digitizing education resources by respectively creating free online spaces to get educational content and providing educational technology to 26,000 classrooms.
  7. Educating Refugees: Of the 200,000 refugees who have sought asylum in Egypt, 40% of them are children who become reliant on the Egyptian education system. The Egyptian government is using the model created by the U.N.’s Refugee Resilience Response Plan to help these vulnerable children. The government plans to give refugees a combined formal and informal, community-based education system that can bring stability to their lives.

Education 2.0 focuses on bringing children out of learning poverty by focusing on vulnerable communities, re-training teachers and giving students greater access to education through technology. Education reform is essential to the long-term growth and success of a country, so programs like Egypt’s Education 2.0 is incredibly important.

Olivia Welsh
Photo: Flickr

Girls' Education in Egypt
Education is key to the empowerment of women, and everyone should be able to access it. Egypt is one country that shows that it believes in that statement. There has been excellent progress towards closing the gender gap when it comes to boys’ and girls’ education in Egypt.

Egypt has the largest education system in Africa and it has grown exponentially since the 1990s. In 2012, about 95 percent of children between the ages of six and 18 were enrolled in school. This is a significant difference from another African country, South Africa. In the same year, South Africa had an enrollment rate of around 65 percent for boys and girls of the same age group.

Increased Spending Results in Increased Equality

The government of Egypt has shown more interest in the education system in the past few years and has worked to improve the system, especially for women and girls. Significantly more government funding has been used over the past decades to increase the accessibility of girls’ education in Egypt. A total of 11.1 percent was spent on education in the 2016/17 fiscal year and was projected to rise by nearly 5 percent the following year.

Over the past 20 years, girls’ enrollment in school has risen greatly. According to Egypt Demographic and Health Surveys, as of 2014, 92 percent of girls living in urban areas were attending primary school and 71 percent of girls were attending secondary school. These rates are very similar to the percentage of boys enrolled in the same age groups. This is a significant change because in the past, girls were not given nearly the same opportunity to achieve an education as boys.

While access has generally improved for girls’ education in Egypt, inequalities remain widespread. Girls’ school enrollment has risen significantly over the past few decades, but the problem that remains is the dropout rate. About 71 percent of men completed schooling up to the secondary level, while only 68 percent of girls completed the same grades. This is in part due to the rates of poverty in many areas of Egypt. Another issue with girls’ education is that families with multiple children often send only the boys to school because that is all the family can afford. Girls who stay at home have lower literacy and completion rates.

Local and International Groups Target Girls’ Education in Egypt

In 2001, the National Council on Childhood and Motherhood began a program called the Girls’ Education Initiative. The program was created to address the need for girls’ education in Egypt, especially in its poorest areas. The project urges communities to come together and buy into the project by donating land and volunteering to work in schools. This is a way to bring communities together for a cause they can all support and relate to.

The United States Agency for International Development, along with the government of Egypt, encourage access to education for girls starting at the primary level. In secondary education, USAID very much supports girls’ participation in STEM education. In addition, the government of Egypt, along with other programs and agencies, is working tirelessly to ensure that someday every child, boy or girl, will have access to the same education and the same opportunities.

Together, these groups have shown over the past several decades that they have been able to improve the quality of education for girls and will not stop until every girl can hold up her diploma with pride. There are many other countries struggling to close the education inequality gap and Egypt is a prime example that has shown that it can be done.

– Allisa Rumreich
Photo: Flickr

Egypt’s public education system
Egypt, a North African country with more than 99 million people and a steadily increasing poverty rate, is currently suffering from an overpopulated and severely underfunded education system. However, recent news suggests that the country will be implementing new reform efforts for a better education system. On April 21, 2018, it was announced that a $500 million project aims to bring learning back to Egypt. The Supporting Egypt Education Reform Project, signed by The World Bank and Egypt, aims to bring learning back to the public school classroom and improve teaching conditions in Egypt’s public education system. The project’s intent is to improve teaching and learning conditions in Egypt’s currently poor public education infrastructure.

Egypt’s Educational Decline

Egypt has not always faced an urgency to improve the country’s quality of education. In the 1950s, Egypt was considered a popular country for young people in search of an education, and during this time President Gamal Abdel Nasser established free, national schools with instruction in Arabic. Students traveled from dozens of nearby countries to obtain a quality education at Cairo University or at al-Azhar University, the world’s second oldest surviving degree-granting institute.

However, in the 1980s, Egypt’s public education system took a turn for the worse due to a growing population and little reform, leading to extreme overcrowding and underfunding of the country’s schools and universities. In 2011, following the overthrow of Egypt’s long-time dictator Hosni Mubarak, hundreds of thousands of Egyptian youths took to the streets demanding public school and university change. However, seven years later, educational reform has been slow-moving, resulting in a still struggling education system, despite the few improvements made.

Currently, some of the main problems students in Egypt’s public schools face include:

  • Overcrowded classrooms, to the extent that students cannot find desks
  • Inability of teachers to supervise students
  • Extreme underfunding
  • Poor school maintenance (including broken windows, doors and desks)
  • Unrepaired water and sanitation systems
  • Inadequate science labs
  • A lack of technological resources for students
  • Poor understanding of the courses by teachers
  • Obsolete teaching practices, including politically-centered lessons that ignore essential school subjects

Additionally, most students in Egypt’s public schools have to take private tutoring classes after school because the education available in their school is so poor that sufficient knowledge and success are not assured.

The Need to Bring Learning Back to Egypt

In 2016, 14.3 million people, or 20.1 percent of Egypt’s population, were illiterate. Females made up 9.1 million of that number, amounting to 26 percent of Egypt’s female population, compared to only 14.4 percent of men. Illiteracy makes it harder to rise out of poverty, as a lack of education can pass down through families, reducing the chance that anyone in the family will be able to pull themselves out of poverty.

However, Egypt’s education system is planned to receive an upgrade that can help decrease the country’s illiteracy rate. In support of improving Egypt’s education system, The World Bank and Egypt’s five-year, $500 million project aims to bring learning back to Egypt and intends to widen access to quality kindergarten for around 500,000 children and train 500,000 teachers and education officials, all while equipping 1.5 million students and teachers with modern technology. Also, a new student assessment and examinations system will be utilized for more than two million Egyptian students.

This $500 million project aims to bring learning back to Egypt in several ways, including improvements in access to and the quality of early childhood education, implementation of a credible student assessment and examination system, enhancements to the size of teaching staffs and the application of digital learning resources.

The World Bank is a global partnership that helps developing countries find solutions to the toughest global and local development challenges.

– Natalie Shaw

Photo: Flickr