Writing by Patrick Keddie
The primary school building in Imbaba – a deprived, scruffy area of Cairo – looks more like a detention centre, with its stern institutional design, metal gates and huge walls crowned with barbed wire. A group of parents waited to pick up their children outside the school. Although they said the school was better than others in the area, they soon rattled off a long list of complaints.
“The children are not educated well in school and they just memorise things. It’s better in the private lessons where the teacher explains things well,” said one parent. “The teachers insist on private lessons because they are not paid enough,” said another. One parent pays 350 Egyptian pounds ($51) per month for his children’s private lessons, a significant amount for many Egyptians. “I often borrow money or eat less food,” he said. The primary school often asks the already stretched parents to club together and pay for repairs and resources.
The quality of Egypt’s primary education has been recognised as dire for several decades, in a country where the illiteracy rate remains high, at around 28 percent. But a recent report suggested that its quality may be deteriorating even further. This year’s World Economic Forum (WEF) Global Competitiveness Report ranked Egypt dead last in quality of primary education out of 148 surveyed countries.
[Read the rest of the article published by Al Jazeera English here]