Egypt government seeking to fix 'damage' to education system

Government adviser says country is being transformed into a 'learning society'

January 28, 2016
Cairo skyline from roof of Amir al-Maridani mosque

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Egypt’s education system has “damaged a generation” of young people who are not able to compete in a global market, according to a government adviser.

Tarek Shawki, chairman of Egypt’s Presidential Advisory Council for Education and Scientific Research, said the country’s poor education system has “killed the curiosity and creativity” in young people.

“The system in the past 30 years has really damaged a generation,” he told Times Higher Education during a visit to the UK last week organised by the British Council.

“Now [these people] are frustrated because they are not sufficiently educated to assume competitive jobs. It’s not their fault – it’s the way they were taught. We did not give them the right skills to compete in a very tough world. It’s a shame we didn’t prepare them for that.”

He added that President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi is seeking to rectify this by increasing investment in education and research and transforming the country into a “learning society”.

Last week the government launched the Egyptian Knowledge Bank, a free digital library of academic books and journals, which will be open to all members of the public in the country.

Dr Shawki said he hopes universities will use the resource to improve their curricula.

“The philosophy is not to have a top-down solution that fits all. We are building an enabling environment,” he said.

“Politicians want to see immediate feedback but the results will not be seen the next morning.”

He added that the country is “learning from the best”, citing the UK as one example, and compared Egypt’s higher education reforms to earlier transformations in Singapore and Malaysia.

ellie.bothwell@tesglobal.com

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Print headline: Egypt: vow to fix a ‘damaged’ education system

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