The Egyptian Education Ministry has increased public school fees across all student levels by 40 to 45 per cent, Ahram Online reported yesterday.
Fees for children attending kindergarten have increased from 45 Egyptian pounds ($2.5) to 65 pounds ($3.7); while secondary and technical schools have seen an increase of 30 Egyptian pounds ($1.7) per year. Such expenses are particularly difficult for families in rural areas to afford, many of whom lack a basic education themselves.
The ministry announced that the increases were due to a hike in the price of student medical insurance. Some pupils will be exempt from the additional expenses, including the children of members of the army, police and judiciary; the children of sole female breadwinners and the children of those who died in terrorist attacks. The exemptions are to be determined following a survey.
This is just the latest is a number of austerity measures Egypt has taken as part of conditional loan agreements with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank. Last month, the IMF praised the Egyptian government’s efforts at reforming the economy, particularly the increase in electricity tariffs and the rise in fuel prices implemented in November 2016, and in June of this year respectively.
In August, inflation in Egypt reached its highest level since 1986, at 33 per cent; the country had struggled with the devaluation of its currency to half its value for many months, after it was floated by the government last year. Finance authorities also introduced VAT for the first time, increasing the cost of countless goods; it simultaneously cut state subsidies on fuel, electricity and water.
President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi’s severe economic reform programme has added to the hardship of many millions of Egyptians living below the poverty line who have complained of being unable to afford basic necessities since the price jumps.