23 January 2019 01:51 PM

Education in Egypt

Monday، 20 July 2009 - 12:00 AM

Education in Ancient Egypt
In Ancient Egypt the child’s world was not as clearly separated from the adult’s as it tends to be in modern Western society. As the years went by childish pastimes would give way to imitations of grown-up behaviour. 
Children would frequently be found lending a hand with the less onerous tasks and gradually acquiring practical skills and knowledge from their elders. 
By precept and example, parents would instill into them various educational principles, moral attitudes and views of life. Thus from a tender age they would receive their basic education in the bosom of the family. For girls, this was usually all the schooling they would get, but for boys it would be supplemented by proper training in whatever line they chose, or was chosen for them.
Education, of course, covers both the general upbringing of a child and its training for a particular vocation. The upbringing of boys was left largely in the hands of their fathers that of girls were entrusted to their mothers. Parents familiarized their children with their ideas about the world, with their religious outlook, with their ethical principles, with correct behaviour toward others and toward the super-natural beings in whom everyone believed. They taught them about folk rituals and so forth. 
Educational principles are summarized in a number of ancient Egyptian treatises now commonly called the Books of Instruction. The advice given in them was designed to ensure personal success that is consonant with the needs of the state and the moral norms of the day. 
Truth-telling and fair dealing were enjoined not on any absolute grounds, but as socially desirable and at the same time more advantageous to the individual than lying and injustice, whose consequences would rebound against their perpetrator. The Books of Instruction contain rules for the well-ordered life and elements of morality that include justice, wisdom, obedience, humanity and restraint. 
They mostly took the form of verses addressed by a father to his son as he stepped into his shoes or started to help his ageing parent. Similar admonitions were delivered by a king to his heir. Most of these books were compiled by senior officials: humbler scribes, like Ant, only played a part in later times.
Many copies were made of these Books of Instruction, since they also served as teaching texts in the schools for scribes. Seven complete and five partial texts have survived, while the existence of others is known from fragments. The one which appears to be the oldest is by the celebrated, vizier, architect and physician to the 3rd-dynasty pharaoh Djoser. 
This text has not survived, but is mentioned in the Harper’s Song in the tomb of King lnyotef. Another is the Instruction Compiled by the Noble and Royal Prince Hordjedef for His Son. The two authors of these very ancient books were held in such esteem as to be deified. Of other educational treatises perhaps 3 of the most important were the Instruction of Ptahhotep, City Administrator and First Minister during the reign of His Majesty Djedkare Isesi, Ruler of Upper and Lower Egypt during the 5th dynasty. The following passages deal with the art of ’elegant and effective speech’.
"You should only talk when you are sure you know your subject. He who would speak in council must he a word-smith. Speaking is harder than any other task and only does credit to the man with perfect mastery...
Be prudent whenever you open your mouth. Your every utterance should be outstanding, so that the mighty men who listen to you will say: "How beautiful are the words that fly from his lips."
Nevertheless Ptahhotep rates fair dealing higher than learning: You may tell a wise man from the extent of his knowledge, a noble man by his good deeds.
In contrast to the hierarchic structure of Egyptian society in those days, this injunction to respect the opinions and knowledge of simple folk has quite a democratic ring: 
Do not boast of your knowledge, but seek the advice of the untutored as much as the well-educated.  Wise words are rarer than precious stones and may come even from slave-girls grinding the corn."
Ptahhotep urges his readers to exercise justice and warns against intriguing for self-aggrandizement, bribery, extortion of debts from those unable to pay and insatiable accumulation of property. His manual abounds in concrete advice on how to behave in various situations - at banquets, in the exercise of high office, towards friends, wives, petitioners, paupers and so on.
The spiritual high-point in this genre is reached in the Instruction of Amenemope at the end of the 2nd millennium BC, some of which is closely comparable with passages in the Old Testament Book of Proverbs. It includes, for example, this call for justice and forbearance toward the poor and widows: 
Do not move the boundary-stone in the field nor shift the surveyor’s rope; do not covet a cubit of your neighbour’s land nor tamper with the widow’s land-bounds. Covet not the poor farmer’s property nor hunger after his bread; the peasant’s morsel will surely gag in the throat and revolt the gullet.
If the poor man is found to owe you a great debt, divide it three ways; remit two parts and let the third stand. That, you will see, is the best way in this life; thereafter you will sleep sound and in the morning it will seem like good tidings; for it is better to be praised for neighbourly love than to have riches in your storeroom; better to enjoy your bread with a good conscience than to have wealth weighed down by reproaches.
Never let a powerful man bribe you to oppress a weak one for his own benefit. There is a similar foretaste of Christian morality where Amenemope urges consideration toward the afflicted: 
Mock not the blind nor deride the dwarf nor block the cripple’s path; don’t tease a man made ill by a god nor make outcry when he blunders. 
In the surprisingly developed moral code revealed by these excerpts, virtue will be rewarded for reasons that can be summarised as follows: behave justly toward your god, your king, your superiors and your inferiors too; in return you will enjoy health, long life and respect. 
When judging the dead, god will deal with you in accordance with your past conduct. Those you leave behind, too, will be glad to acknowledge your good deeds by reciting life-giving words and by bringing gifts to ensure you life eternal ... The supreme aim of the Egyptian moral system was to help maintain harmony and order in the world created by god and maintained by the king.
Alongside the inculcation of general rules of morality there was, of course, formal vocational training. Young men did not usually choose their own careers. Herodotus and Diodorus refer explicitly to hereditary callings in ancient Egypt.
This was not in fact a system of rigid inheritance but an endeavour, as one Middle Kingdom stele puts it, to pass on a father’s function to his children. Several other sources confirm that this happened with the consent of the king or his plenipotentiaries. Thus we find throughout Egyptian history a tendency for even the highest offices to remain in the same families.
Towards the end of the Middle Kingdom, for example, there was a virtually dynastic line of viziers, and in the Ramessid period the offices of the supreme priests of Amun were passed on from father to son. It was in any case common practice for an official to take on his son as an assistant. so that the succession became more or less automatic.
This was also the implication of joint rule at the royal level. A son was commonly referred to as ’the staff of his father’s old age’, designed to assist him in the performance of his duties and finally to succeed him. Even if the Instructions of Ant declare that ’offices have no offspring ’ 

From an early age they would be going out to the fields, boys and girls alike, to lend a hand in simple tasks like gathering and winnowing the corn, tending poultry and in time cattle, and so forth. Fishermen, boatmen and others would also take their young folk along with them for practical experience. 
Pictures of craftsmen at work, on the other hand, rarely show children present. There is one of a boy handing a leg of meat to a butcher; other examples show a lad helping an older man to smooth down a ceramic vessel, and a boy playing in a row of musicians. In the army youngsters were used as grooms and batmen. 
Writings of the Roman Period contain some interesting data about the training of weavers and spinning-girls. A test was probably given at the end of the apprenticeship. At this time weavers usually sent their children to be taught by colleagues in the same trade. The master undertook, if he failed to get his pupil through the whole course, to return whatever payment the father had advanced for the apprenticeship.
Kingdom each scribe taught his successor - usually his son - individually. From the First Intermediate Period onwards there is evidence of whole classes run for trainees in this field. In the New Kingdom they existed in the capital city of Thebes (there was one in the Ramesseum, for example, and a second purportedly at Deir el-Medina) and in later times such institutions were run at other centres too. These were not of course true schools in the sense of independent bodies with full-time teachers.
The ancient Egyptians nevertheless held education in high regard and saw it as a privilege. A few talented individuals without formal schooling still managed to acquire sufficient knowledge to shine in their own field. And there were of course plenty who tried, as everywhere, to compensate for their lack of education by intriguing or currying favour in high places - sometimes as high as royalty.
 Modern Education
When Mohamed Ali took over Egypt’s rule in 1805, he introduced modern European-style education particularly  French-type education. He established "high" schools (1816), preparatory schools (1825) and primary schools (1832).

Ali was interested in "specialized" schools such as the School of Medicine, the School  of Engineering and the School Languages and Administration .

Missions were sent to Europe thanks to the efforts exerted by the education pioneers: Refaa
Tahtawi and Ali Mubarak.

• The first cultural project in Egypt was that of Ali Mubarak (1867) named then as "Ragab Statute" (1285). He established as well "School of Teachers" (Dar el-Oluom) in 1880 so as to provide schools with Arabic language teachers. In 1908 national universities were opened.

• In 1923 the constitution made primary education compulsory for all Egyptians: boys and girls. A bill was issued to establish "The Egyptian University" in 1925, which consisted of four faculties: those of Arts, Science, Medicine and Law. Other universities were set up: Alexandria (1942), Ain Shams (1950)and Assuit (1957). In addition to Azhar Islamic university other universities were afterwards established in the governorates (1930).

• Taha Hussein’s main interest was in developing education alprograms. He called for teaching Arabic and Egyptian history in schools. He urged as well to extend plans to set up more universities. Following the July 23 revolution, the state adopted the principle of the "Democracy of Education" thus providing people from all walks of life a the opportunity to become educated.

• Since 1957 the development strategy in Egypt has been associated with education.

The 1971 constitution asserted in Article 18 that education is a basic right to be provided by the state. It is compulsory in the primary stage and has to be so in other stages. The state supervises all stages of education. It guarantees independence of universities and research centers.
In 1991 education was considered the country’s major national project. 
In July 1992 a document was issued entitled "Mubarak and Education: a View for the Future". It outlined the future policy of education. The decade of the nineties was considered the national decade for the eradication of illiteracy.
A series of national conferences were held to develop education. In 1993 the national conference on primary education was held followed by another on improving preparatory education in 1994. Another national conference was held in 1996 on promoting teachers’ status. In 2000 a national conference was dedicated to means of spotting and caring for  talented pupils.

In December 2004 a conference was held in Alexandria to emphasize the necessity of free education as a basic right to which all Egyptians are entitled.
The achievements of the education sector are as follows:
• The number of schools rose to (37257) schools in 2004.
• Enrolment rates in the school year (2003/2004) in pre-university stage were estimated at 14870.6 thousand students: 1620.98 thousand inthe  primary stage; 1464.5 thousand in the preparatory stage.
- Those enrolled in the secondary stage (general/technical) reached 1153.3 thousand.
The numbers of schools and classes from 2005 to 2007 increased as follows:
Increase Value
Total Schools
Total Classes
The numbers of experimental language schools between 2005/2006 and 2006/2007 increased as follows:
Increase Value
Increase Percentage %
Experimental Schools No.
The numbers of schools, classes and students of private education increased as follows:
Increase Percentage %
Average of Classes Intensity
- 8.2
Training Centers No.
1870% (about 19 double)
The educational gap between males and females narrowed, and the females joined education between the year 1980/1981 and 2004/2005 are as follows:
Increase Value
Total No.
Males Percentage
Females Percentage
The State aims at entering the knowledge world through several fields such as using technology in education, learning and administration through:

- Merging technology in subjects, activating the electronic government project, and linking about 36926 schools through the Internet.
- Increasing the schools equipped with recent technology to 28850 schools.
- Number of computers in preparatory schools reached 84327.
- Number of science laboratories in primary schools reached 15714, in preparatory schools reached 7128, and in secondary schools reached about 1754.
- Number of receivers for educational channels reached 22000.
- Joining 7700 preparatory schools to remote education.
- Equipping a number of 100 kindergartens with electronic games.
- Increasing the technological aspect in 35 mental schools.
- Increasing 20 new sites for the national network for remote training to reach 57 sites.
- Preparing and qualifying 150 teachers and 400 students to use means of programming production.
- Activating a number of 25 technological convoys through educational departments. Number of beneficiaries of these convoys reaches 1670133.
- Linking ADSL to 2000 schools.
- Producing advanced educational software. Salient software already produced are: 305 curricula for all stages, 160 video films (historical and documentary), 110 animated films and 60 educational subjects recorded on tapes, of which 45 transmitted through Internet through electronic education project.

Education Development Strategy in Egypt

The education development strategy in Egypt (2014 - 2017) includes all educational elements, and set clear and specific targets for the advancement of student, teacher, and educational facilities. With respect to the student: mainstreaming of the school feeding program in various schools of the Republic, taking into account the direct link between improving the nutrition level and developing the understanding capacity of the student. With regard to the preparation of future leaders, it was decided to work on literacy, reduce the rate of the drop-out launch an educational television channel, and provide free remedial classes at schools along with educational convoys. As for the curriculum, it is updated continuously and in a flexible manner to keep pace with the time variables.

Concerning the educational facilities, the system of establishing schools to accommodate all the students in all the stages of education is being completed so that the density will reach up to 40 students or less in one class.

Education Investments

Investments of pre-university education reached about L.E 4.4178 billion in 2013/2014 compared to investments of L.E 2.0469 billion in 2012/2013 plan.

The Ministry's plan for investments for the year 2014/2015 targeted about L.E 4.0341 billion, L.E 3901.2 million of which are for funding the Public Treasury, in addition to the sum allocated for the technological development that reaches about L.E 1.5 billion.

State’s Public Spending on Education, according to 2013/2014 Balance
Unit: L.E million




Public spending of State



Public spending on education



The percentage of public spending on education to public spending (%)



Spending on pre-university education



The percentage of public spending on pre-university education to public spending (%)



Spending on university education



The percentage of public spending on university education(%) to total spending on education



Other objects of expenditure on education



The percentage of other objects of expenditure on education to total spending on education




Pre-university Education Indicators

The evolution of the number of (schools, classrooms and enrolled students) during the year (2013/2014) (governmental only) (1)


Educational stages






Technical Secondary

Special Education

Total Number in thousand

Number of the enrolled








Number of schools








Number of classes








Class capacity








Number of admissions








 Source: Economic and Social Development Plan for the fiscal year 2014/2015

·       The number of pre-primary schools reached (10227), while the number of primary schools reached (17619), and the number of preparatory schools reached about (17619). Moreover, the total number of secondary schools reached (2994), the number of technical schools reached (1984), and the number of special education schools has risen to about (903).

·       The number of students in the primary stage reached (9906249), the number of students in the preparatory stage reached (4337705), and the number of students in  the general secondary stage reached (1545472),while students in the Secondary agricultural education reached (165513) students. Furthermore, the number of the enrolled in the societal education has increased to about (99 475), and the number of students of special education has increased to about (36 134) students.

Schools, classrooms and students in pre-university education according to the educational stage 2012/13

Educational stage
























General secondary






Community Schools






Special Education






 The achievements of the Ministry of Education in the pre-university education during the academic year (2013/2014)[1]

·       Covering all basic education schools by computer labs to prepare them for interactive secondary education where 2150 computer labs have been provided.

·       Applying the International Bachelor Program in two schools, one of which is in Sheikh Zayed and the other is in Al- Me’raj School in Ma’ady. It is a high-quality education system that works on giving the information to the student in a manner that promotes scientific thinking and life skills.

·       Developing examination and evaluation systems; new types of examinations have been prepared throughout the school year and advanced technology for the development of examinations’ systems has been used. Moreover, a Website has been set up within the Ministry's site that is specialized in question and answer banks; all Secondary students have taken advantage of this development.

The achievements of pre-university education in 2013/2014

·       The implementation of educational convoys in 24 governorates before the start of the school year with the participation of 22 of the best teachers of educational programs, to make final revisions for the preparatory students in all educational subjects.

·       The training of (2000) Trainees (general director, director and teacher) where (1800) students benefited from these convoys.

·       The distribution of 2150 teachers in basic education schools, (434) teachers for the primary stage and (1906) for the preparatory stage.

·       The development of (40 books) and writing of 21 new books for all stages of education and the preparation of the reference guide in values, ethics and citizenship where the 18.5 million students in all levels of education have benefited from.

Schools, Classrooms and Students in the Experimental Schools

According to the educational stage 2012/13

Unit: by Number

Educational stage







General secondary

Commercial secondary





















Source: Ministry of Education

Schools, Classrooms and Students in Special Education Schools

According to educational stage 2012/13

Unit: by Number

Educational stage






Preparatory (1)

General secondary (2)

















Community Education

The establishment and operation of community education schools which rely on the concept of child-friendly school and are appropriate to the environment and local conditions has been expanded, among the most important achievements of the Community Education are the following:

·       Activating a cooperation agreement with the UNICEF to equip (120) community schools by a L.E 15 million fund from the Organization to reach to a  community school in each village over 3 years.

·       Equipping of (30) schools and classrooms in needy areas, and the number of beneficiaries reached (99000) students.

·       Equipping of (216) schools and classrooms by a fund from the World Food Organization and Egypt Good Foundation (Misr El-Kheir) and NGOs, in addition to training of (7190) female students.

·       Training of (7290) female teachers on fields of (identifying the problems facing these schools and standards of quality of education in community schools).

Targeted Plan for People with Special Needs

Among the most important objectives of the education development programs for people with special needs is to improve the quality of the provided education for the process of integration of disable learners in 10% of all pre-university schools gradually in about 3600 targeted schools distributed over three years. Another objective is the development of the curricula to be linked to the implementation of integration mechanisms of the disabled by the academic year 2015/2016, where the following have been completed:

·       Equipping about 277 schools of the integration schools and providing them with developed educational systems for the deaf and dumb, and training of (2015500) specialist teacher on the integration strategies. The total number of beneficiaries of this development reaches about (36500) students.

·       Developing schools for those with special needs by providing blind schools with (30 classrooms) equipped with computers, talking IBSAR programs and talking interactive curricula.

·       Developing the capacity of special education teachers (blind, deaf, dumb, and disabled), and training of (244) trainers from special education schools, TOT.

·       Training of (71) training cadres in special education schools, and training of (152) teachers on literacy strategies with total number of (1089) teachers.

Sustainable Professional Development for Teachers for the Year 2013/2014

As part of the State’s interest in the teacher as an essential element in the educational process, the Ministry of Education set up a number of achievements including the following:

(4679) teachers have been placed, of those who have never been placed on cadre jobs, after passing the tests on jobs, Law No. 155.

The certificate for practicing teaching has been granted to (6911) specialist teachers in Al-Azhar, and (114 981) teachers and assistant/ specialist in Education.

Training of about 35 000 teachers in paid programs for those who wish to apply for positions of director, and deputy director of department; and headmaster and deputy headmaster of School has been completed.

The completion of the training of (316 970) teachers to be promoted to cadre jobs.

Training of (3107) teachers / specialists.

L.E 6.2 billion incentive reward for teachers was provided.

75 690 teachers were granted tenure.


The General Authority for Literacy and Adult Education continues its efforts in reducing the illiteracy rate in the community, especially in the age bracket (10 years and over) with raising rates of female enrollment in literacy classes to become an active force in the community.

This table shows the percentage of illiteracy and the dropout rates in the year (2012/2013)


Illiteracy rate

(%) 10 years and over

Absorption rate of obliged         (%) 1st year primary

Drop-out rate from basic education

















 Source: Economic and Social Development Plan for the fiscal year 2014/2015

Achievements in Literacy

·       Signing a Protocol of Cooperation with Al-Azhar and the Ministry of Social Solidarity by (500 000) volunteering students to literate 20% of students in different governorates.

·       Literacy of 1.9 million students currently where the number of students reaches about (1674500), in addition, (225 500) learners have received the literacy certificate.

·       A Protocol of Cooperation has been signed with the Ministry of Communication for the literacy of (300000) learners through using software programs on the computer.

·       Contracting with (1200) trainers for the training of (6000) young men in youth centers in all governorates.

·       Limiting the number of illiterates in (304) villages in 16 governorates, where (1666) classrooms were opened including (12447) learners, and the rest of the governments are underway.

·       Opening more literacy classes and rehabilitation of literacy teachers scientifically and educationally and expansion in opening enrichment classes for the emancipated from illiteracy.

·       The 2014/2015 plan has targeted literacy of (3.5 million) learners with the participation of the Egyptian universities’ students, and L.E 376 million have been allocated for this program.

·       Expansion in providing opportunities for continuing education for those emancipated from illiteracy and providing them with more reading materials.

Azhar Education

The Azhar plays a prominent role in maintaining the Arab and Islamic heritage and maintaining the place of the message of Islam to the world so as to maintain the Egyptian identity and highlight its bright civilizational face. Although Al-Azhar represents the oldest university that contributed to the enrichment of human thought, the development of its sciences and knowledge, and dissemination of the principles of the tolerant Islamic Shari'a, its contemporary mission is no longer limited to religious leadership alone, yet it presents its graduates who combine between the science of religion and life, and contribute to the production movement and life making the same way they contribute to awaken human conscience and strengthen the desires of good and beauty.





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