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Egyptian MP calls for greater militarisation of high schools

School boys in Cairo, Egypt on 27 January 2014 [Sebastian Horndasch/Flickr]
School boys in Cairo, Egypt on 27 January 2014 [Sebastian Horndasch/Flickr]

Military vocational schools would benefit Egypt’s teenagers more than high schools that focus on skills and trades, the country’s deputy minister of education has suggested. Ahmad El-Guweishy made his comments in an interview with Sada Al-Balad newspaper. He explained how adding military personnel to the administration of technical schools would increase patriotism and discipline within students as well as staff.

Egypt currently has 15 polytechnic high schools that have been converted into military academies for this purpose. In 2015, students from Al-Bagour Polytechnic High School, for example, have already taken part in military-style parades to celebrate ministerial visits as an example to the rest of the country.

Students who do not achieve good results in school often have the option of joining a polytechnic school so their future does not suffer. They usually learn skills that they can put to good use after leaving school, and join state-sponsored apprenticeship schemes.

Read: Egypt takes punitive action against some 2,000 students

Students who benefit most from the state-funded polytechnics often come from disadvantaged backgrounds. It has been pointed out that the militarisation of schools would benefit the military regime in Cairo by gaining the trust of Egypt’s disadvantaged lower classes. By influencing the minds of Egypt’s youth, it is argued that the regime will have the upper-hand in controlling how the youth develop politically in reaction to their disadvantaged situations propelled by the country’s faltering economy.

Such militarisation is not new for Egypt with the military’s hand in the country’s institutions being a common reality. Some observers have put the military presence and revenues within the country’s economy as high as 40 per cent, from supplying baby formula milk to the control of livestock farming.