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Grief and uproar over Egypt collapsing education system

October 20, 2022 at 2:45 pm

Egyptian girls at school in Cairo, Egypt. [Lynsey Addario/Getty Images Reportage]

Egyptian society has been rocked by two incidents concerning the fragile education sector that sent shock waves across the country.

The first incident was a father who set himself on fire in the Nile Delta city of Kafr El-Dawar in protest over the decision by his son’s school to withhold textbooks until they are paid for.

The man, identified by local media only as A.M., poured a substance on his clothes inside the primary school because of “ill-treatment” by the school principal and her refusal to hand over textbooks to his son.

The second incident came in the form of statements made by Education Minister, Reda Hijazi, about the need to licence private tutoring centres, which sparked a storm of controversy on social media platforms.

Education expert, Dr. Kamal Moghith, commented on the first incident saying, “What was the constitutional and legal basis according to which [President, Abdul Fattah] Sisi, [Prime Minister, Mostafa] Madbouly and [former Education Minister] Tariq Shawky, decided to cancel the provision of free education in State schools, Article 19 in the 2014 Constitution, and Article 6 in the Education Law 1981 … after this principle had been instilled in Egyptian Constitutions and laws in the years 1923 1944, 1950 and 1961”.

Moghith wondered if the current government is concerned about working according to the law, the Constitution and the Egyptian “glorious history”, and that is why it had decided to abolish the provision of free education, or if the issue was a matter of thuggery and disregard for the law and the Constitution that Egypt has not known since it had written its first Constitution more than 150 years ago.

In turn, the Education Minister’s remarks about licensing private tutoring centres have also sparked a storm of controversy.

A social media user commented on the Minister’s remarks, saying: “I want to know why I should pay school fees if the centres are licensed?”

For his part, renowned actor, Nabil Al-Halfawi has slammed the Minister’s remarks, saying “I do not believe he [Education Minister] had even considered the repercussions of his idea.”

Dr. Wafaa Ibrahim, the former Dean of the Women’s College in Ain Shams University, said the Minister’s proposal terminates the concept of schools as we know it.

“I am afraid just as the teacher’s prestige was lost, the school will turn into licensed private tutoring centres,” she added.

Egypt: man sets himself on fire after school withholds son’s textbooks