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Introduction

This report reviews the quantitative and qualitative development of education in Egypt since Gomemtien Conference (March 1990).

The report discusses major achievements in basic education in Egypt – supported by the State in order to trace the path ahead; since education is the foundation of all progress; in a world characterised by great quick technology development that surpasses the potentialities of developing countries.

The importance of education is stressed in almost all the speeches delivered by His Excellency President Mubarak. In a speech published in Al-Gomhorira daily newspaper on 16,17 Sept. 1993. His Excellency president Mubarak said:

"Education and its progress is our path and gate to the New World map. Education is the cornerstone of our national security in its broad context, covering economy, politics, our intellectual role which precedented other nations and which leads to stability, development and welfare. Education as such is our way to local and international competition"

In another speech of His Excellency President Hosney Mubarak on 23 Sept 1999; he focussed on the objective of social policy in Egypt which supports the umbrella of social security to protect the individual, provide care for the family and guarantee the rights of limited income classes; in the context of a world of unprecedented quick changes and development. This philosophy identifies economic and social policy in Egypt; in the context of a number of axes, the most important of which is concerned with education. It says:

" More attention has to be given to modern education which is the centre of our future educational policy.

Modern education’s main aim is the service of comprehensive development. It is our medium to prepare the coming generations and rebuilding the society in the spirit of the future. Modern education as such is capable of preparing a citizen able to understand his rights and duties with full affiliation to his country and comprehensive awareness to what is going around him. Although we have succeeded to some extent in solving the problem of population increase in the last years; through family planning programs; still modern education will remain our main medium on the long run to face this problem and to reach its roots . It is a great challenge in the way of our national development.

This means that the political will in Egypt envisages education as the corner stone and the key for progress, welfare and security both for the country and the citizen. Without education there will be no security and welfare.

The strategy of educational reform in Egypt is a prospective dual strategy which stresses education as one of the basic human rights that exerts benefit to the citizen and the country.

Therefore providing access to basic education of all citizens does not only match with the resolutions of the Gometien Conference of 1990 but it forms an essential part in the development processes that are designed to achieve National Security, manpower development and facing the challenges and unexpected changes of the future.

Consequently, moderization and development are continuously directed to basic education, in an attempt to encourage and increase available opportunities for all persons in order to cope with the targets of human resource development with its economic, social and human implications.

Specific strategies have been identified for addressing popularization of education for all. The achievements of these strategies are reflected in the primary results of the 1996 statistics which elaborate the increase in the numbers of the educated in comparison to the numbers of the illiterates . Illiteracy ratios have been reduced to 38.6 % in 1996, while they were 49.6% during 1986.

This indicates that the numbers of illiterates have been reduced by 11% during the past decade. It also manifests the tremendous efforts exerted to eliminate the sources of illiteracy through the expansion of available opportunities and giving utmost priorities to those who missed or were deprived of education. Therefore the continuation of education development and modernisation is one of the main strategies in Egypt.

To give a brief summary of achievements in the field of basic education in Egypt; it may be of benefit to review what is mentioned in the report prepared by UNSECO and UNDP and presented to the Ministry of Education (December 1996) entitled: Review and Assessment of Reform of Basic Education in Egypt:

By all standards, the initial phase of the basic education reform in Egypt (1991-1996) has been successful. Actions taken have created the dynamism for a sustainable and long-lasting reform process. Political commitment, public responsibility, and broad-based partnership of major stakeholders and reform actors are present. The establishment of a conducive reform climate with nation-wide consultations through conferences, seminars and workshops on major initiatives of the reform was vital and decisive. National Centers and Implementation Agencies at central,. governorate and district level were set-up to support and to service the reform process. Resources were mobilized (local and external) to assure the quantitative growth and qualitative improvement of basic education in Egypt.

Some specific development during the past five years include:

An increase in recurrent expenditure for basic education from 1990/91 through 1995/96 (primary and preparatory, through grade eight) of almost 45% (7.6% increase per year) in real terms; an increase in investment in basic education (school buildings and other infrastructure) of about 35% (7.3% increase per year); an increase in the percentage of government expenditure devoted to education from 12% to 19% .

An overall increase in enrollment in basic education (grade one through eight) of 12% during the five-year period: a slight increase in the rural/urban ratio and the girls/boys ratio, essentially, showing the beginning of progress in getting more rural children and more girls into school. Much of this enrollment increase has been made possible by a dynamic program to build new schools and to refurbish and improve existing schools.

The establishment of a one-class school program to provide educational opportunity in rural areas with small areas with small numbers of school age children. This program has been supplemented by a pilot community schools program assisted by UNICEF that is designed to introduce innovated methods into one- class school programs. The Ministry coordinates the two efforts.

Increase in qualified teachers; the teachers’ colleges that prepared primary education teachers at the secondary level have been closed and all primary and preparatory teachers must now be trained at the university level; a national in-service training program for teachers has been initiated; pay and incentives for teachers have been substantially increased.

A complete revision of the curriculum, new textbooks and teachers’ manuals prepared , pre-tested and published; the primary materials have been introduced into the schools (grades one through five and the preparatory materials (grades six through eight) are to be introduced beginning in 1997.

A national educational technology program introduced with technology laboratories being introduced in schools, with an increasing supply of multimedia instructional materials for the laboratories; in addition, elements of a distance education scheme and teleconferencing facilities for teachers training are already operational.

A recently established national examination center is in the process of developing and applying new assessment and evaluation procedures.

Measures have been taken to involve the faculties of education in the reform process.

A high-level coordinating committee of all centers and Ministry units participating in the reform has been established to effect future collaboration and institutionalization of the reforms.

The story of reform and development of basic education in Egypt is an on going process, the effect of which, as predicted by the UNSCO report will be witnessed in the twenty first century.

Consequent international reports refer with respect to the achievement mentioned in UNSCO report.

The report of UNICEF issued on the occasion of the presentation of the declaration on "the Status of Children in the World" that took place in the press conference (Cairo, 8 December 1998) referred with high esteem to the achievements of basic education in Egypt which is considered an unprecedented success story.

The words of the Minister of Education expressed in his book entitled "Education and the future" highlighted the hopes embodied in education in general and basic education in particular.

" We are at the dawn of a new era, through which I can envisage major changes in the very near future. Such changes will focus on familiar aspects which over the years have been taken for granted. This is an appropriate time for us for expanding the Gometien principle of EDUCATION FOR ALL. While initially it applied to the Basic Education Stage, we need to apply it to University and Higher Education. This principle is already applied in many industrial societies. It is high time for us to consider this proposed principle as the prevailing one for Egypt."

The following pages review the achievements that took place till the end of the decade; in the context of the indicators set up by the responsible authority that requires the assessment report.

Definitions

Pre-school Education:

It is a stage that comes prior to basic education for the children aged 4 to 6 years old. School age children are not accepted in this stage which aims at comprehensive and integrated development for each child; taken into consideration individual differences. It aims also at preparing the child for regular school life in basic education.

Basic Education:

Basic compulsory free education guaranteed by the constitution for all Egyptian children within the age from 6 to 15 years. Its duration is nine years divided into two stages:

First stage (Primary) is 6 years duration.

Second stage (Preparatory) is 3 years duration.

One Class-Room Schools:

Governmental schools affiliated to general education system in Egypt. They are established in places deprived from schools. These schools are for girls (8-14 years old) who have not access to school or who are dropouts. The school consists of a building including one study room where all girls with different educational levels and different ages attend. This school is a kind of multi-grade school. The curricula of primary education is taught, in addition to vocational formation.

Community Schools

A project aiming at the realization of education for all by providing a solid foundation of an educational program focussing on girls through an educational program similar to a primary educational program in the context of guide principles assessed by the Ministry of Education.

The community schools program coincides with local requirements and accepts girls aged from 6 to 12 years. the priority is given to older pupils with preference given to girls. Community schools serve hamlets and deprived areas as concerning educational services.

Mobile Classes

The idea of mobile classes depends on the concept of non assignment of certain sites for a certain group of pupils. Also teaching is taking place anywhere except for certain syllabuses that require special installations such as labs, workshops, libraries ….etc.

Resource Centres

One of the main elements of technological development project. They aim at transforming participating schools into a resource centre. These schools are provided with CD/ROMs, books & video tapes. Technology is invested in providing a joint source of knowledge giving access to all participating schools to get information from various sources. This includes making benefit of international information networks through the internet and the establishment of an electronic library. Therefore the project is giving access to all schools to be in distance contact with the central library.

The Political and Legal Context   of Basic Education in Egypt

Education is now the focus of interest in Egypt. It is at the top of the main priorities of the political leadership. President Hosney Mubarak is always hammering on the fact that education is the national project of Egypt. It is considerd as well a matter of "National Security".

First: The Legal and Political Framework of Education

Article (no. 19) the first Egyptian constitution issued in 1923 stipulated that "primary education is compulsory for all Egyptian children" .
A major executing step forward was undertaken by the 1952 revolution. The development of a unified primary compulsory education was one of the main objectives of education. Other efforts followed to ensure free education for all citizens in all educational stages. Egypt participated in the ratification of the World Agreement on economic and social rights. The contents of the agreement have become part of the state laws.

Education in Egypt is considered one of the rights which underline two basic principles supported by the constitution issued in 1971, namely, equity before the law and equal opportunities.

Article "8" stipulated that the state guarantees equal opportunities for all citizens.

Article "40" stipulated that "All citizens are equal before the law, they are equal with regard to their responsibilities and duties without discrimination based on sex, origin, religion or belief".

In order to support these principles, the Egyptian constitution sets down the following basic framework for the education system in Egypt .

Education is a basic right (Article 18) .

The state is responsible for and supervises education to ensure equity (Article 18).

Basic education (primary and preparatory) is compulsory (Article 18 for primary education, extended to include preparatory education under the educational law no. 139 the year 1981.

Education in the institutions of the state is free in all its different stages. ( Article 20) .

Literacy is a national responsibility (Article 21) .

In accordance with the above constitutional principles, Egyptian education responds to the items of the above mentioned construction, as follows:

Education is a basic right for all citizens (equal opportunities for all) without any kind of discrimination what so ever. They are equal in rights and general duties.

Basic education, which covers both primary and preparatory stages, has been considered as compulsory since the year 1981. Before the issuance of the law no. 139 for the year 1981, education was compulsory for the primary stage only. The Egyptian constitution stipulates "the state has to extend compulsory education to other educational stages".

The year 1999 has been characterized by the issuance of the law no. (23) for the year 1999 which stipulates that the duration of compulsory education is nine years, six years of which is covered by primary education.

This means the return of the six year in primary education, the omission of which in 1988/1989 resulted in reducing the duration of primary education stage to become eight years . this stresses the significance of basic education and the importance of taking all measures to enhance its education .

Education is placed under the supervision of the state, in order to guarantee the minimum level of the principles of cultural and social upbringing, to ensure national unity and to achieve social coherence. This does not mean that the state owns all the educational institutions. Public education, private education and international education are working side by side, but under the supervision of the state except international education which is governed by agreements signed between Egypt and the concerned countries.

Education is free of charge at all levels in order to support equality and stress the fact that the society benefited from education in the fields of comprehensive development literacy is a national responsibility for which all efforts should be mobilised either governmental or non-governmental.

The legal framework of education also includes administration and organization of education with regard to the principle of centralization and decentralization . Education law no. 139 for the year 1981 as amended by Act no. 233 defines that the Ministry of Education is responsible for undertaking planning, follow up, evaluation, development and provision of educational materials; besides determining standards and qualifications of teachers. It also states that local authorities are responsible for the implementation and follow up on the local level, besides taking into consideration the general national guidelines, monitoring activities during the school year, developing examinations and administering them according to the set guidelines for the various levels, in addition to the recruitment of teachers .

Act no 8 for the year 1991 realises this balance between centralisation and decentralisation . The General Agency for the Eradication of Illiteracy and Adult Education is a national specialised authority responsible for planning the programs and projects of illiteracy and adult education and their assessment. It is responsible for coordinating the efforts of other institutions, designing curricula, providing learning materials and text books and determining teachers’ qualifications. Governortae committees affiliated to the agency are responsible for teachers recruitment, mobilisation, publicity, selection of illiteracy sites and the follow up of different activities.

Part- I Main Indicators for Education for All>

Early childhood care and Development

Basic Education in the Nineties

Illiteracy and Adult Education

Early Childhood Care and Development  "Pre-School Stage"

Since the ninetieth the focus has been laid on the pre-school stage. The document "Mubarak and Education" issued in 1992 was a turning point. It stressed the importance of assigning some classes in each new school for pre-school education. This stage is considered the most crucial phase in the life of the child. This necessitates that this important stage to be put under the supervision of the state. The period from 4 to 6 years in the life of the child represents the cornerstone in the formation of his personality and creating the seeds of his future ability and potentialities. Joining the pre-school education stage is a strong indicator of continuation and success in consequent educational stages.

An important document which considered the period from 1989 to 1999, a decade for the care and protection of the Egyptian child, has been issued. It focuses on:

Giving due attention and priority to childhood projects in the future plans.

Continuous efforts have to be exerted to reduce the ratio of deaths among children in general and new born children in particular, as well as among mothers.

Constant work to guarantee a better life for children in the light of target goals to be realised by the year 2000.

As for education the document stipulates:

Raising the society awareness about the importance of using modern techniques in the fields of child care and health service to reach a better life for our children.

Guaranteeing basic education for all children as well as reducing illiteracy ratios.

Giving the Egyptian child a faire share of the different branches of culture.

Ensuring access to exercise sports in suitable areas and encourage hobbies which enhance creativity in the schools.

Giving enough social, health and psychological care to children with special needs.

The National Conference for the Development of Primary Education (1993) highlighted the importance of this stage. One of its recommendations stated "the two years stage of kindergarten has to be an integral part of the compulsory basic education. If there is any kind of shortage one year is enough on condition that boys and girls in urban and rural areas have access to join" (recommendation no.3).

In order to define different specialisations in the field of child education and realise the integrated care for the Egyptian child; the law no.12 for the year 1996 was issued with the purpose of ensuring child protection. The law differentiated between kindergarten stage and pre-school stage.

Kindergarten is considered a kind of social service for the child which is implemented under the supervision of the Ministry of social affairs.

The pre-school education stage comes under the umbrella of child’s education as an educational effective system that realises comprehensive development for the children in the pre-primary school stage.

The pre-school education in Egypt aims at:

An integrated and comprehensive development for each child that covers mental, physical, motor, emotional, social ethical and religious fields. Individual differences have to be taken into consideration as concerning the abilities and willingness.

Developing the language skills together with numerical and technical skills through individual and group activities and enhancing mental and creative abilities .

Proper social and health bringing up in the context of the values, objectives, principles of the society .

Meeting the needs and requirements of growth in this age.

Preparing the child to join the formal school in the basic education stage.

To realise these objectives the Ministry of Education took some measures to enable childhood to enjoy a good education.

These measures are demonstrated in the following fields:

1- School Building:

The design of the school building takes care of providing pre-school classes which are considered an integrated stage with basic education.

The expansion of the construction of special needs education schools.

2- The guarantee of the quality of education offered to the child:

Attention is given to the constant development of curricula and courses offered to the child. Teacher recruitment and pre-service and in service training are following the most developed techniques. Female teachers of pre-school stage are sent abroad to rub shoulder with the recent developments in their field of specialization. Different activities and celebrations enhance affiliation to the school and develop the creative abilities of the children are at the top of the main priorities.

3- Providing Care for the Handicapped:

The Ministry of Education is providing a comprehensive and integrated care for handicapped children through the following:

Deaf and Dummy children participate with normal children in performing different activities.

Increasing the no. of schools and classes which offer an educational service for the children of special needs without any discrimination based on sex.

4- Attention to educational activities and the child culture:

The main aim is to help discover gifted children and encourage their love for learning and their affiliation to the school, as well as building up their personalities and teaching them good manners and proper attitudes and values.

5- Attention to the child health and care.

The Ministry of education provides its care to the children through an integrated insurance system based on proper scientific planning. Health service includes the following:

Medical comprehensive check up offered to the school age children .

Vaccination to produce immunity to different diseases.

Periodical medical check up for pupils.

Dissemination of health awareness among children.

Raising the children’s awareness as concerning personnel hygiene, avoiding bad habits and following proper health habits.

The Child and the environment:

The Ministry of Education shows much interest in stressing the importance of environment in the life of the children and in establishing an objective relationship with the environment . The focus has been on the techniques that enhance the child’s respect to the environment and the desire to enjoy nature and work for its protection. Therefore, the Ministry organised artistic competitions for children’s drawings which express their concepts about the environment .

Training courses are organised for female supervisors in pre-school education stage, on environmental education and environmental concepts.

In general the Ministry has set up a strategy for an implementation plan through:

Expansion in the construction and preparation of pre-school education classes.

Recruitment of the best individuals to work as supervisors and members of the staff in the pre-school stage.

Transformation of pre-school education books to become in the form of cards.

Focus in this stage, is on objective playing and proper behavior in the environment as well as tolerance and benevolence.

Preparation of guide manuals to help pre-school education female supervisors in their work .

Ensuring the existence of female social workers with the children to help solving any problems .

The establishment of special training courses for pre-school education using modern technology .

The following table demonstrates the striking increase in the number of schools and classes in the pre-school education stages:

Table (1)

Comparison between the no. of Schools, Classes

and Pupils in Pre-School Education Stage

89/1990- 97/1998

Academic

Year

Schools

Classes

Pupils

89/90

936

4370

177740

97/98

2725

9365

316801

Change

1789

4995

139061

Percentage

191%

114%

78%

The above mentioned table demonstrates the current ratio of change and development in the no. of schools, classes and pupils . It refers also to the attention given to the quality of education. In spite of the increase in the no. of classes 114% ; still the no. of pupils do not have the same increase. This is due to the reduction in class density in pre- school stage. It never exceeds 36 children in one class. This means a better educational environment .

Table 2 demonstrates the efforts extended to develop and expand the pre- school stage .

Table (2)

The increase in the no. of children enrolled

in pre school education stage (91-1992/98-1999)

Academic Year

No. of children

Increase

Percentage

91/1992

223.51

98/1999

328140

The table demonstrates the development of the no. of children enrolled in pre-school education stage during the period 1991/1999with an increase of (105.089)children of both sexes representing a percentage of 47.11%

Indicator (1)

Table (3)

Total enrollment in early childhood (98/99)

Indicator (1)

Value

Observations

Total enrollment in early childhood

8%

Al-Azhar, Ministry of Social Affairs and are exceeded Workers’ Associations Data

Indicator (2)

Table (4)

Percentage of Pupils Enrolled in The First Grade of

Primary Who Participated in Early Childhood Programs (98/99)

Indicator (1)

Value

Observations

Percentage of Pupils enrolled in the first grade of Primary who participated in early childhood.

12%

 

Indicator (1) demonstrates the total enrollment in early childhood programs, which represents a percentage of the age category of 4-6 years. It seems a low percentage, due to the shortage of enough and accurate statistics concerning specific programs in this concern.

At the same time the proportional reduction in indicator (2) seems logical, if the value of indicator (1) is taken into consideration with regard to the relation between them.

In the context of interest related to childhood; there are other formal institutions established either at the end of the eighties or at the beginning of the nineties to add to the work performed by the school; among these institutions:

The National Council for Childhood and Motherhood:

In 1988, the National council for childhood and Motherhood came into being by virtue of a presidential decree (under the auspices of the cabinet’s presidency) Ministry of Education, Health, Communication and Social Affairs are members in the council

The consultative Committee of the council is presided by Mrs Susan Mubarak, the wife of the president of the Republic.

The council embodies the high political authority, which suggests the general policy in the field of childhood and motherhood. It is responsible as well for setting up a comprehensive national plan in the context of the state general plan for the protection of childhood & motherhood. The council plays as effective role in assembling data and statistics, conducting studies and evaluate their indicators. The council suggests cultural, educational and information programs; besides mobilisation of public opinion as concerning needs assessment of childhood.

The council organizes training courses for all those who deal with the child . It benefits from the experiences of the specialised faculties and centre for child studies affiliated to Ain Chams University. The council encourages all studies related to children especially the deprived groups; such as labour child . The council is conducting a pilot project with the aim of offering services to child laborers who are receiving their education and working at the same time. Health care and information are offered to those children. The council is now preparing an integrated training manual for social, psychological and educational specialists to serve the purposes of comprehensive child development.

Comprehensive Development Project for integrated care for village child:

In the context of the deep belief of the importance of comprehensive child development the village child has become the centre of interest. Many indicators refer to the shortage of services and care offered to the village child, the council conducted the project of comprehensive development and integrated care for village child with the aim of raising the implementation level of all services offered to the child such as health, social and cultural, services.

The project takes care also of benefiting from all members of the society to maximize the services offered to the child. the role of the council is to co-ordinate the efforts of all authorities in co-operation with the Ministry of local government.

The Project Steps:

Field visits to investigate the real conditions of the places the project will begin working in.

Defining child and woman indicators in the selected places.

Setting up a strategy for the project implementation to raise the efficiency of the different services, coordinating and linking between these services with the aim of maximizing their return to the child through the increase of the return to the family and society at large.

Educational Care:

Educational care is integrated with other sides . All children have to be enrolled in basic education when they reach school age. Dropouts in this stage are not allowed and all efforts are exerted to enhance the educational process in all stages. Nutrition is considered a main factor in the educational process. Educational buildings and equipments necessary for education are given due attention. Literacy efforts are directed towards children in the age that ranges between 8-14 years and women in the age that ranges between 15-35 years.

The project has expanded in other governorates in order to benefit from this successful experience. The childhood and Motherhood council is offering technical assistance only as well as preparation and qualification of liason officers who are selected from among youth to play an effective role in the success of the project.

The development of pre-school education:

The year 1996 witnessed the establishment of a supreme committee to develops pre-school education. The committee is responsible for submitting studies and views concerning the educational policy of this institution. The main functions of the committee are:

Setting up an organisation with the aim of managing pre-school education in general and studying the potentialities and conditions needed to develop all children in particular .

Determining educational services according to the needs of the child.

Suggesting training plans at all levels and in all fields.

Organising conferences, workshops and conducting researches in the field of pre-school; education .

Finding the best ways to extend the umbrella of educational services to preschool education to cover all children.

Teacher preparation to work in this stage gives an indicator of the attention given to develop the stage and stress its importance . Specialized faculties and departments have been established graduates of such faculties and departments are only allowed to work in the pre-stage education . the Ministry of Education began to send some female teachers working in pre-school education abroad to visit developed countries to get informed about the recent and advanced ways of teaching and dealing with the children.

Technological Development in pre-school education:

The plan of the Ministry of Education in this concern aims at:

Providing the schools with recent educational techniques which helps mental growth to face the challenge of information explosion. A female specialist in educational techniques has been assigned in each pre- school education ; location. Training is provided to help female teachers to use these techniques and manipulate them in the educational process.

The establishment of science clubs provided with suitable equipments for the age of the children.

The perpetration of pre-school education programs for the specialised satelite educational channels.

The Ministry of Education has taken major steps in developing pre-school education . the no. schools which are actually technologically equipped till the year 98/1999, is 1200 schools, children in these schools are enjoying the fruits of technological development .

This development comprises other aspects such as:

Standardisation of the program of early childhood development. A committee including a number of senior university professors organised training courses on the program and a working package containing different development cards and four guide books .

Inviting specialised professors in the fields of pre-school education such as child theatre, child museum, development of creative thinking of the children and dealing with blind children.

The establishment of special libraries for pre-school education in addition to hall libraries to be provided with learning materials suitable for this age stage; to give access to knowledge sources.

Participation in some international competitions (Chinkar-Japan). Many Egyptian children were among the winners.


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