25 July 2010
According to the Egyptian Centre for Education Rights (ECER), the speaker of Egypt’s parliament is not the only one who wishes to see his grandchildren studying at international schools. All Egypt’s ministers—and everyone in high position in the Egyptian government—send their children and grandchildren to international schools, since they are all the most aware of the inferior standard of national education in Egypt. Deceptive slogan The ECER claims that the government is at best confused about the practical steps to take in the direction of education reform. If anything, this exposes a disregard of education rights on the part of the government. In a recent statement, the ECER said the marked increase in primary school attendance meant that class numbers may go up to a hundred students in a class in most schools, especially in poorer areas. Unprecedented leaps are also expected in school fees in the future. Most teachers now depend on private lessons since their salaries do not cover their minimal requirements in the shade of booming price rises. No single culprit Watani talked to Yusry Afifi who is manager of the Curriculum Developing Centre (CDC). Dr Afifi explained that the CDC was responsible only for planning and designing a curriculum. As to putting a new curriculum into practice, Dr Afifi said: “We cannot deny that most teachers are inefficient and under-qualified.” Moreover, he said, it should be remembered that teaching ought to be taken as a vocation before being a source of livelihood. So is the development process following the correct path? Watani asked. “Developing teachers is not easy and is an overly costly task,” Dr Afifi said. It is a process that calls for huge budgets, for doubling the budget of education in Egypt. Unfortunately, Egyptians think that the development process is now in progress. This is not true, because it needs massive time and effort.” Dr Afifi believes there is no single culprit behind the failings of the Egyptian education system. “The entire society is behind the condition of education in Egypt,” he says. “Teachers no longer have any ethics beyond looking to generate a profit out of the profession, and parents do not care about their children gaining a good education as much as they care about their attaining high grades to ultimately secure a place in university; to this end some even encourage their children to cheat. The media behaves as though the issue were nothing but a grand opportunity to boost circulation, splashing fiery headlines whenever the issue of education comes up. Objectivity is absolutely lacking when reporting on education, regardless of whether this could help ruin a project that is crucial to the benefit of Egypt.”
For the poor The ECER is very clear about the fact that quality education can never be attained in overcrowded classes and within the shortage of schools. It maintains that remedying this is the responsibility of the government, which plans to build 3,500 new schools by 2012, while the actual need is for 17,000 schools. It is essential, the ECER warns, to turn the tide of education into a means of providing good education for the poor and not just the wealthy.