The Arabist

The Arabist

By Issandr El Amrani and friends.

Back to school

School in Egypt starts these days, and the local papers are quoting a study conducted by the Ministry of Education that estimates annual spending on private lessons to have reached some LE13 billion. This does not even include private lessons for university students.

This turn-over makes the private lesson industry one of the largest sectors of the Egyptian economy, I guess. For comparison, the Egyptian construction industry is not much heavier. (It's amazing how much money Egyptian households are able to mobilize given the official GPD per capita.)

Meanwhile, the government tries to attract private investments under public-private partnerships to build 50 new elementary and secondary schools. As part of his presidential campaign promises, Mubarak promised 3,500 new schools until 2011.

However, I’ve heard of newly built schools financed by international donors that 12 months after their inauguration are falling apart, as no funds and capacities exist for maintenance.

I’m wondering what over 700,000 civil servants working in the administration of Egypt’s educational system are actually doing. They are the true obstacle to reform in this sector.