Seven Things to Know About Egypt’s New Education System

Once hailed as a center of intellectual excellence, Egypt has lost its glowing reputation. But, they are working to make changes.  In the fall of 2018, Egypt implemented a brand new education system with the goal of reimagining and reinventing how Egyptian kids learn.

The new system’s unofficial motto is “Know, work, live and be…” The new approach to the curriculum has ushered in a shift in Egyptian schooling and academics. But, to understand what these changes mean in modern Egypt, you need a bit of background on the history of education in Egypt.

A Quick History of Egyptian Education

An ancient tradition of religiously based education was the system for many centuries. Then, secular education was introduced in the 1800s.  At that time, a dual education system was implemented where the general population went to religious schools, and civil servants attended government-funded secular schools. This elitist system allowed public school students far better opportunities than their counterparts in Muslim schools.

A more egalitarian system replaced the prejudiced one, but the education system in Egypt was focused on “old school” teaching methods and rote memorization skills.

So, what are the modern educators of Egypt to do?

The New System: Know, Work, Live and Be

Implemented in September 2018, beginning with Kindergarten and primary school, the new system is a complete overhaul with a focus on multidisciplinary learning. Development of problem solving and creativity are priorities over rote memorization and more superficial learning.

The country was formerly an intellectual and educational mecca. As a matter of fact, the nation is home to the world’s oldest university.   In recent history, Egypt has fallen prey to high unemployment and poverty.  The best and brightest often have their sights set for America or other countries where job opportunities are more plentiful. How will the new system change things?

Here are 7 things to know about this new system

  1. Fewer exams: Primary school students will move from Kindergarten to fourth grade without being assessed or facing the threat of being “held back.” In 5th grade, exams will commence. The Ministry of Education is also committed to altering the secondary school system. One of the first steps will be abolishing the unified national exam. The schools will, instead, hold 12 examinations throughout the school year.
  2. Open Books: Historically, Egyptian educators have been criticized for the system’s focus on memorization and “drilling” rather than focusing on critical thinking skills. Open book exams will focus on comprehension rather than memorization.
  3. Multidisciplinary Curriculum: An integrated, multidisciplinary curriculum helps students make connections between seemingly different subject matter. This also helps avoid repetition of the subject matter.
  4. Focus on Teachers: Salaries for teachers in Egypt’s public schools are extremely low. This has led to a corrupt practice amongst teachers who intentionally withhold information during lessons and then charge for private tutoring sessions. Therefore, if you want the full lesson, you will have to pay. The new system will work to train and pay teachers better so that they are motivated to work hard for their students every day at school.
  5. Critical Thinking: Development of problem solving and creativity are priorities over rote memorization and more superficial learning. Students will be given the tools needed in the 21st century for success in life and work.
  6. Who am I?: The young children’s curriculum will focus on a “Who am I?” theme. Gaining self-awareness and identifying personal strengths early will prepare them for a successful secondary and college education.
  7. Goals: The goals of the new system are simple: create self-aware, critical thinkers who can grow up to boost the economy and help the country regain its reputation as a center for superior education.

The Egyptian students of today are being set up for success. It is exciting and should be very interesting to watch and see how this new system unfolds and what types of student outcomes it produces.

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