Egypt has the most significant educational system in the (MENA); Middle East and North Africa according to the Human Development Index (HDI). Although the educational system had been developing hastily since the beginning of the 1990s, Egypt had been continuously facing serious and accumulated problems in education.
An exploding population, an increasing poverty, low literacy rates, drastic injustice in schools qualities; schools in urban areas where the rich can pay for education are better than other schools in different areas, Low teaching salaries and inconsistent funding for the educational system by the government, all led to a decreasing educational quality mainly in the most essential and indispensable part of the educational system which is basic education, also it led many teachers to the road of private tutoring for extra income.
Moreover, memorization rather than critical thinking was unwillingly encouraged through physical punishment in schools and homes. For countless Egyptian children fragmented information was the result and that was never considered real knowledge. Yet again as a product of these causes, more and more escalating numbers of graduates are found unemployed. Egypt will continue to face an educational crisis, as lack of well trained teachers, effective schools and developed educational equipment unless a much better financial commitment is made by the government.
This essay will first demonstrate the main causes of the educational problem, examine the effects of these problems on the society, discuss and analyze the previously proposed solutions and finally enlighten a solution that will most likely work in our Egyptian society. It is believed that overpopulation is one, if not the biggest problem affecting education in Egypt. This problem does not depend only on the size or density of the population, but also on the ratio of population to available resources. Furthermore, it depends on the way resources are used and distributed all over the population.
According to a study made by the Human Development Index (HDI), in 1985-1986, nearly 155,000 primary and secondary teachers served 9. 6 million people, a ratio of about 62 students per teacher. Now in 2011 with 85 million people and as the overpopulation crisis still continues to grow, this ratio is multiplied by eight times; a ratio of about 496 students per teacher. According to the United Nations’ projections “The rate of population growth will fall in the future, the total population will continue to increase significantly and will reach 8. billion by 2025”, (New York: united nations, 1991), thus, this will probably lead to a catastrophic ratio of about 3200 student per teacher that will lead to a more devastating result regarding education. Overpopulation can result from poor family planning and an increase in birth rate so a measured policy must be put into action at once to prevent further crisis. Poverty as one of the key factors of educational problem, it must be addressed and analyzed. Education was never placed as one of the top priorities of the poor; more significance was given to their basic needs.
Basic needs as Food and shelter are the most important needs for any individual for immediate survival, while education on the other hand is an essential need for future survival. However, due to the limited income and partial resources of the poor along with the high costs of education, they give up future survival for immediate survival just to be capable of meeting their daily expenditures. Low literacy rates affect the educational system in Egypt in a critical way; this problem has overwhelmed Egypt for decades.
Even though the proportion of literacy has steadily increased over the past few years and more and more people are able to read and write, most of them are not able to create or invent anything new. The ability to participate in the community is almost absent. Literacy as a word is the ability to read and write but the UNESCO; The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization defines literacy as the “ability to identify, understand, interpret, create, communicate, compute and use printed and written materials associated with varying contexts. . This raises a lot of questions about the true meaning of literacy, about the Egyptian educational system and its efficiency, and why there is such a problem with literate people’s creativity, imagination and their lack of participation in finding a solution in their own country’s educational problem. The injustice in schools qualities is another factor that affects education in Egypt. Private Schools are more developed and less crowded compared to public schools.
Crowded public classrooms usually hold as many as 100 students, therefore, the students of public schools receive less individual attention compared to private school students, this makes teachers spend more time keeping their class quiet and attentive than actually teaching. The educational problem in public schools multiplies due to the lack of scientific laboratories, computer equipments, and absence of facilities. The high rate of violence and student dropout is another educational problem of public schools. It is due to the fact that public schools accept all students without considering their behavior or talent.
But in case of private schools, they select students according to specific standards, as a consequence, resulting in a safer environment. Low teaching salaries signify a major cause of the educational system weakness. That discourages teachers to provide a high quality education by doing more researches and improving their way of teaching. Not being more patient with students, results in bad teaching environment. Inconsistent funding for the educational researches by the government lead to the formation of a bad and inefficient curriculum, that depends more on memorization rather than thinking.
Many progress has been made to increase human capital base through improved education system, still the quality of education is low and unequally distributed. Due to lack of good quality education at the basic and secondary levels, there has been an escalating market for private tutoring. Now to take private tuition has become more of an obligation than a remedial activity. According to the Egypt Human Development Report (2005), 58 percent of surveyed families stated that their children take private tutoring.
Consequently adding more financial burden on the family and simply shifting the problem of education on the family. One of the main factors leading to the educational problem is that teachers usually intimidate students with their attitude, sometimes making the students seem unworthy of their knowledge. The intimidated students may then refrain from asking questions, therefore, causing them to not fully understand the subject matter. Students have absolutely no say in what they learn and how they receive the information that is taught.
Since the topic is not chosen by the students, they are more likely to be uninterested and their creativeness would suffer. Transforming the students to become robot-like and are forced to adapt to the teacher’s style. The number of people who encounter problems regarding education had rapidly increased. It is because millions of children are not attending school caused by learning impotency, and others are not becoming successful because of exceeding deprivations. And these deprivations tend the majority to blame other people, institution and even the government.
They believe that there would be no illiterate if there is no poverty that is the outcome of different problems. And because poverty is not and will not be easily solved by the government, a major solution was proposed and that is “Alternative Learning”. Alternative learning is an alternative way to prevent the increase of illiteracy of one country and help in decreasing the problems of normal education system. Alternative learning occupies programs that regard education to give a chance to every member of the family to attend school and learn a lot of things beyond of their financial difficulty.
This kind of learning has different teaching methods that allow students to have an opportunity of having successful future and to have a school environment that will support their non-traditional learning needs. Children can be assisted to overcome challenges, able to graduate and become a productive contributor to the community to which they belong. Alternative learning aims to promote high quality academic programs that will allow children to develop their own strength, talent and interest because someday they will represent their own country if they are just given the chance to be well educated.
As education is the direct and most effective way for any civilization to prosper, so the best way to approach this problem in my opinion is to classify the means of education into three types: formal, non-formal and informal. Formal education is the well-known method of education. . Going to school every day to listen and pay attention to what the teacher says. This method is mainly directed to the financially capable parents and it is not a must for them to be well educated. Non-formal education is unorganized ducational activity outside formal systems. As an example: “community education” whereas a group of people study with a volunteer tutor who assists their ideas of interest in a form where they can learn from by an analytically, systemized way. This type of education is targeting the needy children who are mentally handicapped. As they widely differs in their mental capabilities and their potentials so volunteer tutor is preferred to direct each child’s interest separately. Informal education can be classified into Home schooling and Auto didacticism.
Home schooling is the education of children at home by parents, rather than in school. Parents provide their children with distinctive learning atmosphere that exist in nearby schools. This type is aiming the nonfinancial capable parents yet they should be willing to help their children in developing multiple skills which allows them to cope with the community’s demands. As Egypt is an agricultural and an industrial country in the first place and most of the educational problem lies in rural areas, Egypt is in desperate need for well-educated farmers and workers.
Farmers and workers should direct their children in gaining the required skills and expertise to be successful and productive citizens to benefit themselves and their country. Auto didacticism is self-education or self-directed learning whereas people who apply this more often spend his or her time in the library or on educative websites or places. Consequently, new programs selecting brilliant and intelligent children should be put into action. These programs should be implemented by the government in order to sponsor and support these genius children even if they are from low socially standard and low financially capable parents.
Special teachers and special equipments and resources should be allocated for directing these children to walk in their own path, as not all genius children are distinguished in every subject. In conclusion, researchers and advanced educators must start to work for finding a proper form and solution for this highly vital problem. Whatever form of education it may be, what is important is that we keep on learning. Continuous education is what everybody need not only for them to succeed but also for their country to progress.