With the global economy becoming increasingly knowledge-based, the education and skills of a country’s people are more important than ever in securing its future. Investments in education provide a catalyst for economic growth, job creation, and increased social mobility. President Abdel Fattah El Sisi’s declaration that 2019 would be the year of education followed the government’s announcement in 2018 of a major education overhaul programme. The year 2019 thus saw a number of initiatives put in place, most of which were aimed at increasing uptake of technology in classrooms and ultimately creating a dramatic cultural shift in the way society views education. Many of these reforms were set to continue in 2020.
The future of the country is heavily reliant on the output the education system and youth will produce. With every human development project being developed across Egypt, establishing and upgrading the education system through schools and vocational training centers to cope with the Fourth Industrial Revolution is a target.
In 2020, the Ministry of International Cooperation secured financing agreements with a total of $252 million from multilateral and bilateral partners in Education, from the USAID, Saudi Fund, South Korea, Italy and Germany. With more than 21 million students, Egypt is home to the largest school system in the Middle East and has achieved near-universal access to primary education as well as gender parity in both enrollment and completion rates.
The Ministry secured 4 grants from the United States of America; $15 million for the Basic Education Development Program in the second phase; $26.5 million for a project to stimulate trade and investment in Egypt; $30 million for the Egyptian-American Higher Education Initiative, and $4 million for the Egyptian-American cooperation in science and technology.
A $2.5 million Italian grant was also provided for a project to expand applied technology in schools and enhance the skills of teachers, and a $2.9 million grant came from Korea to develop a system for automating intellectual property systems. An $8 million grant from South Korea went into inventions through enhancing public research and supporting developing technology all in the interest of achieving socioeconomic development goals. Germany provided 4 grants; the first amounting to $13.8 million for a project to rehabilitate vocational schools, $5.4 million for a project to support the dual education system in Egypt, and $4.4 million and $6.6 million for a project to encourage employment. The Saudi Fund For Development provided $140.8 million to complete the King Salman International University. The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) also supports several projects, during COVID-19 particularly, in the Egypt-Japan University of Science and Technology (E-JUST). By 2030, Egypt aims to set up a big number of applied technology schools, alongside its many vocational education centers that are focused on teaching specific fields, such as industry, agriculture, trade and hospitality. Egypt and Italy also signed an $2.6 million deal in April that is aimed at upscaling technology in high schools and at upgrading technical education within the country. Signed by H.E. Dr. Rania Al-Mashat, Minister of Education H.E. Dr. Tarek Shawki and Italian Ambassador to Cairo Giampaolo Cantini, the project is setting up a network of applied technology schools and about 130,000 students will benefit, alongside 3,000 educators and administrative employees that will also receive training by 2030. In September 2020, a Memorandum of Understanding between the Ministry of Education and Technical Education and Confucius Institute in China was signed agreeing to teach Chinese in preparatory and secondary schools as an optional foreign language. This deal lasts for six years and can be perpetually renewed.
Egypt is currently operating under a new “Education 2.0” system with a focus on digitising education by providing servers, screens and tablets to 25,000 public schools, changing the assessment model for high school and other levels of education in the future, and uploading the curricula from kindergarten through to Grade 12 to a digital library online that is freely accessible.
This reform is supported by the partnership between the Ministry of International Cooperation and the World Bank, and is helping improve education services to 12.2 million primary school students, 8.9 million in junior high and 2.8 million at the secondary level. The project, worth $500 million supports increasing access to quality kindergarten education, improving the quality of learning and adopting technology as a vehicle to achieve reform objectives.
There are around 36 projects on SDG 4: Quality Education amounting to $2.361 billion, 9.2% of the total ODA.
Ensure that all girls and boys complete free, equitable and quality primary and secondary education leading to relevant and effective learning outcomes.
Ensure that all girls and boys have access to quality early childhood development, care and pre-primary education so that they are ready for primary education.
Ensure equal access for all women and men to affordable and quality technical, vocational and tertiary education, including university.
Substantially increase the number of youth and adults who have relevant skills, including technical and vocational skills, for employment, decent jobs and entrepreneurship.
By 2030, ensure that all youth and a substantial proportion of adults, both men and women, achieve literacy and numeracy.
By 2030, substantially increase the supply of qualified teachers, including through international cooperation for teacher training in developing countries, especially least developed countries and small island developing States.