Educational policy is crucial to society. Its process is related to political, economic and cultural variables. Nevertheless, there is a paucity of research in the field of applied social sciences, about how educational policies help to achieve societal objectives and welfare. This study aims to assess the concept and features of school education in Egypt during 1990-2017.
Secondary data were collected using governmental reports and educational institutional reports and assessed through specialized focus groups.
Results showed that, despite the multiplicity of strategies to reform the educational system, achievements and outcomes of educational processes are modest, and the developmental status of Egypt is lower than that of other countries. Studying educational outcomes indicated that school-education suffered from the predominance of quantity over quality and a serious inability to meet requirements of new knowledge era.
A novel future-oriented proposal for context, ethos and reforming aspects of educational policy will be suggested.
Zaki Ewiss, M., Abdelgawad, F. and Elgendy, A. (2019), "School educational policy in Egypt: societal assessment perspective", Journal of Humanities and Applied Social Science, Vol. 1 No. 1, pp. 55-68. https://doi.org/10.1108/JHASS-05-2019-004Download as .RIS
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Copyright © 2019, M.A. Zaki Ewiss, Fatma Abdelgawad and Azza Elgendy.
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A wealth of information about educational strategies in both developed and developing countries is available (Apple, 2003; Bell and Stevenson, 2006; Haddad and Demsky, 1995). According to Haddad and Demsky (1995), the formulation of educational policy involves seven steps as follows: analysis of the current situation, policy options generation, evaluation, decision-making, implementation, assessment and subsequent policy cycles. They stated that, policy is “an explicit or implicit single decision or group of decisions which may set out directives for guiding future decisions, initiate or retard action, or guide implementation of previous decisions.” The concept of educational policy is to support the educational system and determine its stages, e.g. systems, objectives and means of achieving these goals, to become a reference framework to guide when addressing the issues of education and its problems. It is the organized effort made to achieve certain goals, which reflect the basic choices of the society plans. This policy should be strengthened and committed by the government (Apple, 2003). One of the key purposes of education is social transformation, by reducing social inequalities. Malik, 2012, stated that education involves not only individuals but also the society, selecting, classifying, distributing, transmitting and evaluating the educational knowledge, reflecting both the distribution of power and the principle of social contract. In a country with alarming inequities of income and opportunities, reducing the social exclusion needs to be one of the principle objectives of the policy (Malik, 2012). Educational system is supposed to ensure the right of an individual to grow in income, based on his/her excellence in education and training. To support the policy success, it is important to focus on the implementation more than the design, using a homogenous framework (OECD, 2015). Each country has its unique political, economic and institutional structures and so the educational policy will differ according to the social, cultural and economic contexts (OECD, 2010). It is important to specify educational policy according to the environment of each country (OECD, 2015). Once the educational policy is determined, the misjudgment of the easiness of implementation is considered as the common error in policy planning (Haddad and Demsky, 1995).
The present work forms a part of a big project aiming to introduce a proposal for education enhancement in Egypt, using modeling approach. First, for “assessment of the Egyptian’s educational policy,” there are three subsections assessing the educational policy during different periods. The outlines of the educational strategy of 2014-2030 and statistics of 2017 will be presented and analyzed. In the discussion section, vulnerability factors that negatively impact the development of education in Egypt are assessed. Finally, a novel future-oriented proposal for the context, ethos and reforming aspects of educational policy is presented.
Assessment of the Egyptian’s educational policy
During the years 1990-2000
In the nineties of the past century, Egypt presented a detailed definition of educational policy which is stated in the declaration of Mubarak and Education: A Look to the Future (Mubarak, 1992). It was defined as: “A continuous policy that is careful, harmonious and sound.” It follows the scientific method, takes the legal channels, follows the democratic methods at every stage and expresses honestly the real requirements of Egyptian people. It faces with courage and objectivity the global challenges faced by the Egyptian people (NCERD, 2001). It has been mentioned that this educational policy was formulated with the participation of the community and three main groups, which are as follows:
Formal groups: Comprises persons or systems of a legitimate nature by their position in the official organization of the society, such as the President, the Parliament, the People’s Assembly, as well as the Shura Council, the Ministry of Education and the specialized councils.
Informal groups: Comprises various interest groups, political parties and public opinion.
External power: It is one of the most important new-world economies and it has various implications on the educational policy’s objectives.
Although, the educational policy was defined in the above-mentioned declaration, it did not fulfill the expected outcomes. During this period, the Ministry of Education developed a comprehensive plan for the advancement of education in Egypt, integrated in response to the growing needs and cost. Education of children in different stages was below the required level for them as individuals. Egypt as a pioneer country in the region stated that there is an educational crisis. This crisis was reflected in schools, among teachers, students and in the curricula. Studying educational outcomes indicated that school education was suffering from the predominance of quantity over quality and from serious inabilities to meet the requirements of a new knowledge era (NCERD, 2001). A new vision for the development of education was declared by the Minister of Education at that time (Dr Hussein Kamel Bahaeddin). It focused on the achievements and the measures taken to implement its objectives. The most important educational objectives were determined as follows: preparing a good citizen, developing the productive capacity of the Egyptian people, deepening loyalty and belonging to the homeland and formation of a generation able to excel in scientific research. Education is a national security issue; it has military, economic and political pivots.
Investment in education
In 1992, Mubarak Declaration (Mubarak, 1992) emphasized the following:
Investment in education is a public issue and that education must be adequately funded.
First source provided by the government in the public budget, and the second is the initiative of the private education institutions.
Investment in education is not a humanitarian or charitable issue.
The Egyptian family is not burdened with additional burdens.
Defining a policy of informed education in a democratic framework.
It follows the scientific method, takes legal channels or adopts democratic methods at every stage, expresses honestly the real requirements of the Egyptian people and bravely confronts the global challenges facing the society.
In a democracy framework, everyone must be given the opportunity to express their views and participate in decision-making for education (NCERD, 2001).
The declaration pointed out that education in Egypt is going through major crisis because of the economic conditions experienced. The aspects of this crisis are related to the following:
School buildings: More than half of the existing schools do not comply with any standards for maintenance of human dignity.
Teachers: Egyptian teachers suffer from low salaries, inadequate medical insurance and lack of training and continuous education to upgrade their professional capabilities.
Curricula: Generally speaking, curricula design, contents and tools are outdated. No clear philosophy of improvement by additions or omissions of parts of these contents where applied during the given period of study.
Unfortunately, the educational policy of the 1990s did not explain why the Ministry of Education failed in the 1970s and 1980s to overcome these problems. The 1980s witnessed three ministers of education; each offered an educational policy to develop education, but in the 1990s, the features of educational plan focused on the following:
rationalization of cost-free education;
full cost-free education in basic education as the mainstay of national security;
cost-free for the committed student who makes the efforts required, achieves continuous success, and thus the government does not sponsor students’ failure;
students who joined private education in basic education are not acceptable to receive cost-free education at the secondary or university level;
successful students obtain cost-free reward at all educational levels;
the contribution of capable and business people to finance education; and
graduate studies should be with expenses.
Introducing technology and modern methods of education
The interest in technology and modern methods in the educational system raises the quality and facilitate the arrival of modern technology to all students in various places as follows:
Achieving the homogeneity between different education types: It should be allowed to move easily from one type of education to another; to facilitate graduate students of technical education to join higher institutes and universities; and to facilitate every student who dropped out from education to have another chance.
Return of school feeding: 52 per cent of students in basic education suffer from anemia and 20 per cent of these have vitamin deficiencies. According to the well known correlation between malnutrition and difficulties in learning capabilities the above mentioned figures are negatively reflected on educational outcomes of Egyptian generations.
Care of talented students: The talent students should be taken care of. It is worth noting that the Egyptian government dedicated a day to celebrate talented students and to honor their successful scientific and educational innovations.
Encouraging the role of the private sector in the field of education: At all levels of education, establishment of private schools and institutions must be awarded license.
In the years from 1993 to 1999, following the Mubarak Declaration (Mubarak, 1992), the Ministry of Education continued to issue annual reports, including several principles such as introduction of advanced technology and diversification of knowledge sources, education for all (EFA), use of global expertise, continuous development of curricula, providing opportunities for business and private sectors’ participation, professional development and rehabilitation of teachers and attention to those with special needs. The political discourse has begun to take on another curve, showing the achievements of the new policy. The Ministry placed several legislations and procedures to achieve its objectives. The most important are the following:
Comprehensive educational plan was developed, using the new education technology through two parallel tracks; horizontal track involved deploying the necessary equipment, multimedia, advanced science laboratories and reception halls to broadcast educational channels in all educational stages and the vertical track involved upgrading the equipment available in schools (NCERD, 2001).
Issued Law No. 8 for the year 1991 on the interest of literacy and adult education, and the General Authority for Literacy was established in 1992.
Importance of curriculum development to meet contemporary variables, future challenges, globalization, technological development and information flow.
Establishment of community schools to accommodate girls who were not covered by the educational plan and still in the age of receiving compulsory education and those who dropped out of primary schools, as a second chance for joining the education system.
Use of scientific expertise and international cooperation, to improve education and development. The most important international projects include the following:
Basic Education Improvement Project, which was funded by the Ministry of Education with the participation of the World Bank and the European Union to gradually increase the level of education to achieve full absorption.
Cooperation agreement to conduct joint research between Egyptian and French researchers working in research centers to improve teaching methods in Egypt.
Cooperation with USAID in the framework of the Girls’ Education Strategy, which aims to build small schools to girls deprived of education in remote areas.
Cooperation with UNICEF, in which community schools are known to provide distinct educational opportunities for girls (NCERD, 2001).
Cooperation with the German side for implementation of the Mubarak–Cole project.
The establishment of the Center for Technological Development in 1997, affiliated to the Ministry of Education (NCERD, 2001).
Establishment of national network of distance education (video conferencing) linked to all governorates of the Republic to train teachers and sending teachers to external missions to improve their educational skills.
During the years 2000-2010, the educational policy was affected by the emergence of challenges that resulted from scientific and technological revolution and globalization.
By the end of the twentieth century, the world community entered a new society, named the knowledge society. Thus, the role of information technology as the mainstay of modern economies was growing. It became clear that the main element in advancing the process of economic development and social construction is knowledge, where development is currently based on the production, circulation and use of knowledge. The response to knowledge-based economy requires that the Egyptian educational system be a source of high levels of skills by providing high level of information and communications technology (ICT)-based education and training systems (NCERD for MOE, 2008).
Achieving quality in education
Globalization and application of free market mechanisms resulted in transformation of educational institutions into commercial institutions, so it moved to many market concepts, such as quality, excellence and creativity. The challenge facing the Egyptian society is to have a rank among developed countries. To ensure the quality of education and accreditation, the government approved the establishment of quality assurance authority in education to raise the level of educational services and establish confidence in the educational institution. Thus, the main challenge of educational systems in this decade was not only EFA but also high-quality education.
During the years 2001-2009, rapid spread of electronic systems in education
Considering the flood of information, rapid knowledge and information revolution, ICT developed new educational formats, such as virtual education, e-learning and Web-based education. As a result, in 2002, the Ministry of Education announced that the national goal of the educational policy is to teach excellence and excellence for all. This is a qualitative change in the official educational discourse content. Education for excellence requires opportunities for individuals; the attention is not only to availability but also to quality. The principles to activate the quality standards include the following:
Mubarak’s strategy and education, the qualitative shift in the national education project and the application of total quality principles focused on three basic objectives:
Continue educational infrastructure efforts by promoting education for girls, rural education and education for people with special needs, as well as literacy, teacher development, curriculum development, school textbooks, child care and child labor.
Making a qualitative leap in education by the development of secondary education, the use of scientific methodology, the strengthening of democracy and international cooperation.
A breakthrough in the era of technology by strengthening infrastructure, channels, educational programs, e-learning, e-government and advanced learning centers.
In 2003/2004, the Ministry’s vision and direction toward the knowledge society focused on several objectives, such as continuous support of EFA infrastructure, attention to those with special needs, attention and care for talented students, optimal investment in early childhood, developing curricula and enriching educational materials, expanding the base of community participation and decentralization, expanding the use of technology and e-learning, building national standards for education and applying the academic accreditation system, literacy, sustainable professional development of workers in the field of education, emphasizing the overall quality of education in a comparative global context and supporting technical education and practical training for students.
In the year 2005/2006, some measures were taken to develop the educational plan. The Strategic Policy and Planning Unit was established at the Ministry. It includes qualified cadres with the support of international expertise. It also proposes the future policies, strategic plans and programs implemented for them (NCERD for MOE, 2008).
In the year 2007, The Professional Academy for Teachers was established; it is one of the bodies assisting the implementation of the National Strategic Plan for the reform of school education in Egypt. The most important documents put forward by the Ministry include the following three basic objectives for the educational process: availability and equal educational opportunities, total quality in education and efficiency of institutional systems.
In the year 2007/2008, the National Strategic Plan for Education Reform had been developed by involving the national teams and representatives of the concerned ministries and representatives of the governorates through the Strategic Planning and Policy Unit of the Ministry of Education. The objectives of school education are divided into three groups:
First group: Provides the main support for educational quality process to reach the expected level of performance.
Second Group: Programs related to reform management systems, the institutionalization program for decentralization, the program of technological development and information systems, the program of evaluation and follow-up and the program of study buildings. It is considered the group supporting both the first group and the third group.
Third group: Is related to the educational stages, such as the kindergarten development program, the basic education reform program, the secondary development program, the special education program for children with special needs and the community education program for girls and boys outside the educational system.
This was the first strategic plan of the ministry to achieve its objectives, after the establishment of the policy and strategic planning unit in the Ministry. The Ministry has begun to transform educational policies into strategic plans based on studying reality, identifying strengths and weaknesses in the educational process, examining challenges and opportunities facing Egyptian education and developing a strategic plan for the development of education. According to the World Bank Report (2013), it was stated that the number of schools accredited in the academic year 2008/2009 was 187 schools, including 164 government schools and 23 private schools.
During the years 2010-2017
This period witnessed several internal factors that had a great impact on the educational policy plan. The most important variables that influenced education performance are the following.
The revolution of January 25, 2011, witnessed political instability in the whole country. In this stage, a transition to meet the following challenges and demands was produced by the revolution to provide social justice, political freedom and social security.
The instability in the society was because of the protest vigils and sit-ins, as well as the demands of the class that increased after the revolution.
Revolution of June 30, 2013 and the establishment of a new constitution for the country (Egyptian Constitution, 2014) sets the legislative framework of the country.
The lack of stability of educational policies because of the continuing ministerial changes, where the number of Ministers of Education from 2010 to 2016 was eight.
In this period, a new Constitution (Egyptian Constitution, 2014) was issued.
An amendment was made to the provisions of Articles 28 and 29 of the Education Law.
In accordance with this amendment, obtaining a certificate of completion of general secondary education at one stage at the end of the third year will be provided.
Ministry of Technical Education and Vocational Training were established pursuant to the Presidential Decree No. 189 of 2014 to form amended Cabinet by Decree No. 122 of 2015.
Prime Minister Decree No. 623 of 2015 was issued by merging the Ministry of Education and Technical Education (National Center for Social and Criminological Research, 2018).
According to the Human Development Index for 2013, issued by the United Nations and Development Program (2018b), education performance of Egypt was ranked 112th out of 160 countries. The guide also pointed out that the unemployment rate in Egypt among the youth is the highest among the Arab world during 2012.
Despite the success of educational policies, the rate of student’s retention increased before the completion of the three stages of education. The total number of dropouts from the cycle of primary education between 2010/2011 is huge.
In 2012, the illiteracy rate in Egypt reached 28 per cent of the total age group (15-35 years old) with a total of 17 million people and 40 per cent of the population aged 15 years old with a total population of 34 million.
Strategic plan for pre-university education, 2014-2030
Vision of the Ministry of Education (Ministry of Education, 2014) is providing human resources with growing capacity, efficiency and the highest degree of quality and professional ethics to build a society based on learning and knowledge-based economy. Mission of the Ministry of Education: To lead, manage and develop the pre-university education sector to respond to the social, economic and cultural needs of the Egyptian society with a national identity that is inseparable from global trends. Long-term goal is comprehensive development of youth while instilling the spirit of citizenship, tolerance, non-violence and understanding of the foundations of freedom and justice. Ministry has adopted three reform and improvement policies in line with the United Nations Charter on Human Rights:
Providing equal opportunities for the entire school-age population to enroll or complete secondary and general education with poor areas as a first priority.
Improving the quality of the effectiveness of the educational service by providing a contemporary curriculum, efficient employee technology, educational and non-athletic activities, an effective teacher for each child in each semester, effective leadership in each school and opportunities for professional and internal development of each teacher.
Strengthening the institutional structure, especially in technical schools, and building the capacity of education personnel to decentralize governance.
The strategic goals repeated the educational policies of 2000-2010 by considering availability, quality, efficiency of institutional systems and decentralization. Although, it is difficult to assess the outcomes of this policy, some important developments in the educational system are as follows:
Establishment of the prestigious (STEM) schools in 2011, as talent and excellence are of value to their being in society.
The number of community education schools has improved. The number of secondary schools has been increased to 4,614, including 82,964 male and 17,312 female out of a total of 100,286 students.
In 1992, establishing the community schools was supported by UNICEF. It reached 417 schools and included 11,458 pupils out of the total of 3,162 schools comprising 61,270 students.
Girl-friendly schools (945) with 23,203 students were established.
Schools for homeless children with 34 schools serving 3,299 students were established.
A total of 46 small schools (through community service organizations) were established (Education for All 2015 National Review, 2014).
There was an increas in the number of students enrolled in secondary education. In 2014, general secondary education accounted for 45 per cent of the total number of students enrolled.
Reducing the number of vocational schools to 269 schools in 2012, which represents 50 per cent of the total schools (Education for All 2015 National Review, 2014).
Educational statistics of year 2017
Referring to the available information published by the (Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics [CAPMAS], 2017), the population of Egypt is estimated as 94,798,827 (approximately 95 million) inhabitants, of whom 11 million are children under the age of admission to nursery school, (50 per cent of them are females). Figure 1 represents the Egyptian population profile according to age group. It showed that 38,879,481 of the total population are children in the school age (5 to 15 years old). This value is 41 per cent of the total population. The percentage of currently enrolled school and university students is 27 per cent of the total population, which is nearly equal to the percentage of the people who never get enrolled (24 per cent) as shown in Figure 2. It was found that 6.5 million of the children were enrolled and some dropped out of school for various reasons (3 per cent of them for females and the other 3.5 per cent for males). Causes of students’ dropouts are shown in Figure 3. The highest dropout rate for students of both genders was attributed to the absence of eagerness to learn, as well as an increase in poverty among families. Other social causes are related to customs and traditions of the country where girls’ education is not important. Early marriage was considered as the main reason of female dropout, whereas work was the main reason for male dropout. Other reasons of students’ dropout were parental separation, death of one of the parents, financial constraints and difficulty in reaching schools (Figure 3).
The population percentages according to educational level are given in Table I. The total percentage of the classified population was found to be 75.3 per cent. This value indicates that 24.7 per cent of the total population of Egypt is missing as reported in the CAPMAS yearbook, 2017. From Table I, it is noticed that the illiteracy rate was found to be 19.4 per cent. This value is considered the highest percentage in comparison with the values of 0.4 per cent and 7.4 per cent for illiterate and those who without holding a literacy certificate (could read and write), respectively. Concerning school education, the students’ percentage of primary, preparatory and general/Alazhar secondary were 7.5, 6.7 and 5.2 per cent, respectively. The technical secondary school graduate was showed to be 16.7 per cent, whereas post-secondary students were 2.4 per cent. Very small profile was found for the population in the higher education level. It includes 8.9 per cent university students and graduates, 0.2 per cent high degree diploma and 0.1 per cent for each master and doctorate degrees. Finally, the percentage of the cognitive education was found to be 0.2 per cent. Referring to the statistical analysis of CAPMAS yearbook 2017, these official figures reveal the serious drawback in the Egyptian education situation represented by the following:
High percentage of unrecorded sector of population (24.7%).
High percentage of illiteracy rate (19.4%).
Significantly low percentage of highly qualified postgraduate candidates (0.4 %).
Discussion and conclusion
In education, the national goal came at the beginning of the third millennium to emphasize “education for excellence and excellence for all.” It is desired that senior leaders and executive bodies pay attention to the development of education on the lines of say and action as one of the most important achievements. Despite these numerous educational strategies and multiple reforms, the achievements and outcomes of the educational system are unsatisfactory. Factors that have negatively impacted the development of education in Egypt can be identified as follows (vulnerability factors):
Education in the school is still traditional. The curriculum of existing subjects defies any development, and content books may be subjected from time to time to deletion or addition.
Educational system centralized supervision of policies, curricula and public examinations.
The Ministry of Education unified a central vision and a study plan in which the locations and time of teaching are determined.
Education and its policies are the product of the President only. The reports indicate low profile achievements and reduction of the scientific research.
The student enrollment increases in technical and vocational education, resulting in a huge influx of high school graduates, which cannot be absorbed in the labor market.
Lack of university education leads to reduction of enrollment rate in secondary education to 30 per cent, and this criticized the visions adopted by the Ministry.
The rationalization of cost-free education leads to privatization of education and increases the load on families.
Public schools provide low-quality learning and teaching services. They are unacceptably overcrowded, and difficult to be reached by a great number of teachers and students.
It is unreasonable that parents continue carrying their children’s educational expenses.
Many of the principles and orientations established by the educational policy have not been implemented, especially investment in education which is considered a crucial issue.
The Egyptian family has many physical and psychological burdens in public schools.
Lack of teacher training and the cost of private tutoring is a physical and psychological burden.
Parents are forced to accept the reduction of the educational quality. The Ministry has not been able to solve this problem yet.
The present situation of curricula in different levels of pre-university education is not adequate for providing the nation by well educated new generation. These curricula are not structured to offer skills for learning, critical thinking, problem solving and other important outcomes of any good education system.
Disparity between quality of education in private and public schools, educational services provided to urban and rural students, and number of students and classrooms.
Lack of accountability and transparency were found in the managerial aspects of educational institutions and great confusion in decision making processes.
A total of 85 per cent of the schools are lacking educational technology equipment.
There is an increase in the rate of illiteracy.
A novel future-oriented proposal for the context, ethos and reforming aspects is as follows:
Revitalize the existing educational system with a view to cater to social, political and spiritual needs of individuals and society.
Create a sense of unity and nationhood and promote the desire to create a welfare state.
Promote national cohesion by respecting each other’s faith and religion and cultural and ethnic diversity.
Promote social and cultural harmony, using the educational process.
Provide and ensure equal educational opportunities to all the citizens of Egypt, and provide minorities with adequate facilities for their cultural and religious development, enabling them to participate effectively in the overall national effort.
Develop a self-reliant individual, who is capable of analytical and original thinking, is a responsible member of the society and a global citizen.
Aiming to encourage building dynamics, creative and responsible personality of the individuals.
Raise individuals committed to democratic and moral values, who are aware of fundamental human rights and are open to new ideas, having a sense of personal responsibility and participation in the productive activities in the society for the common good.
Revive confidence in the public educational system by raising the quality of education provided in government owned institutions, by setting standards for educational inputs, processes and outputs, institutionalizing the process of monitoring and evaluation from the lowest to the highest levels.
Improve service delivery through political commitment, strengthening educational governance and management.
Developing a consistent and integrative view of each educational sector in the frame of a whole and efficient educational policy for the future.
Enable Egypt to fulfill its commitments to achieve the EFA goals.
Widen access to EFA and improve the quality of education, particularly in its dimension of being relevant to the needs of the economy.
Equalize access to education through provision of special facilities for girls and boys alike, as well as for under-privileged/marginalized groups and handicapped children and adults.
Eradicate illiteracy within the shortest possible time through universalizing of quality elementary education coupled with institutionalized adult literacy programs.
Enable an individual to earn honestly his/her livelihood through skills that contribute to the national economy and enable them to make informed choices in life.
Lay emphasis on diversification from general to tertiary education to transform the supply-oriented education system to a demand-oriented one.
Encourage research in higher education institutions that will contribute to accelerated economic growth of the country.
Organize a national process for educational development that will reduce disparities across provinces, support coordination and sharing of experiences.
The educational policy in Egypt is presently inadequate and relies upon the emergency administration framework. It requires a complete reconsideration according to the reset of the national priorities.
Showing the Egyptian educational level in the year 2017
|Educational levels||Population||% of total population*|
|Read and write without certificate||7,056,381||7.4|
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The authors acknowledge the financial support through grant No. 94-2016 funded by Cairo University.