Experts: Egypt’s education crisis can be solved with efficient policies, investment in human potential

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Egypt’s education crisis can be solved with a fresh prototype that is based on updated scientific research in the field, efficient allocation of funds and resources, the professional development of human potential and competent legislation along with regulatory polices away from political influences, stressed research experts in the education sector.

The American University in Cairo (AUC) held a discussion panel on Egypt’s education crisis on Sunday with members of Egypt’s first specialised Council for Education and Scientific Research. The council is one of the specialised presidential advisory committees that were formed to assess the country’s challenges and strategise solutions.

The panel also stressed the need for coordination between all concerned governmental and civil institutions through long-lasting projects in order to effectively solve the problems facing the education sector.

AUC Dean of the School of Sciences and Engineering Tarek Shawki said solutions for the education sector are not immediate but can be implemented through withstanding effective projects that are truly enforced on the ground.

He explained that Egypt lacks the ability “to scale projects from their pilot stage to mass production”. National projects tend to halt at the pilot stage due to political pressure as well as ministerial turnovers and they rarely are completed.

The regulatory framework and legislation in the educational sector must be updated so that the profession can meet international standards and move forward towards sustainability.

For example, the ‘reward and punishment policy’ must be reassessed as individuals in the sector can be promoted regardless of their performance, Shawki added.

“Between the 1950s and 2014, Egypt has lost its true character and core values. We have to restore our core values – the principles of trust, self-respect, integrity in work, and nationalism. The loss of values resulted in corruption, stagnation and mismanagement of resources; therefore viable developmental projects were never completed,” he said.

Nevertheless, Shawki noted that the council is encouraged with the state’s current vision in which projects are not moved forward solely on the opinion of ministerial authorities. This may lead to long-standing educational projects, he said.

Meanwhile, AUC Professor of Mechanical Engineering Amal Esawi referred to the educational policies of advanced countries where a large portion of their educational funding comes from the industrial sector and NGOs, noting that Egypt is lacking in that regard.

She said resources and funds for education are not efficiently allocated or reassessed in line with current scientific research so that they can meet the requirements and priorities of the sector. “We need to create novel ideas in scientific research that have long-lasting and beneficial effects,” she noted.

Esawi stressed the importance of creating a novel educational model that is specific to Egyptian culture and requirements. This can be accomplished by providing young Egyptian potentials with opportunities to develop into world-class researchers.

Meanwhile, AUC Professor of Practice in the Graduate School of Education and Director of the Middle East Institute for Higher Education Malak Zaalouk outlined the highly technical complexities of the teaching profession.

She said that Egypt has not given much attention and respect to the profession in terms of development, resources and scientific research.

“Comprehensive education will lead to respect for human rights and social justice in Egypt and all the demands that led to its two revolutions. Therefore, we need to focus on the professional development of the workers in this sector in our strategic plans,” explained Zaalouk.

On her part, Joyce Rafla, who is a member of the Pedagogy and Assessment Office in the Center of Learning and Teaching at AUC, said there is an untapped wealth of human resources in Egypt that is restrained by inefficient policies and lack of technical training.

Current educational policies and curriculum hinder the ability of students to discover their true potential and need to be reformed, she added.

The AUC panel included the President of the National Research Center, Ashraf Shaalan, and Director of Kamal Adham Center for Television and Digital Journalism and Professor of Practice in the Department of Journalism and Mass Communication at AUC, Hafez Al-Mirazi, who moderated the discussion.