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Despite being one of the most urbanized societies in Africa, Egypt has been faced by major challenges especially in education sector. Due to inexperienced instructors who have been given the mandate to impart skills into the younger Egyptian generation, some have been forced to use private tutoring. This research paper takes a deeper look at the major effects that decline in education has produced. Different resources have been used to give a detailed account of the major challenges faced by the society. Education is said to be one of the elements that have produced significant effects to Egyptian economy. Thus, this paper shows that due to decline especially in the higher education segment, the society has faced challenges. The research uses the introduction and the main body to explain this topic as described by different authors, authoritative bodies and others. There will also be concluding remarks for this topic.
Decline in education can be traced back to the times of Mohammed Ali. By the time of his death in1849, he had made significant changes in the life of many Egyptians. One of the major things that he did was to educate a middle class which had then become a source of rebellion for his prospective heirs. What followed after his death marked the onset of declining quality of education in Egypt. Successor to Mohammed Ali was Abbas who closed most secondary technical schools. Abbas was succeeded by Said to whom the major decline in Egypt's modern secular education is attributed to since he closed even more technical schools. This is where stagnation of education in Egypt began. In its history, Egypt's education system has always reflected the society's dichotomy (Cochran 6). Even if literacy in Egypt by 2005 was recorded to be 71% with 83% males and 59% for females, the decline in quality of education has been coupled with an increasing gender disparity. The low quality of education particularly in higher education has produced inexperienced products (graduates) and thus a workforce with deficiency in work skills.
Decline in Egypt's education is attributed partly to lack of funds. Education in Egypt is mainly public but there are insufficient public funds that are needed to cover ever increasing shortage of schools. There is still lack of funds required to improve on the quality. There have been numerous imbalances in allocation of education resources. What constitutes the largest amount of money in expenditure in institutions of learning is primarily in form of wages and allowances. Declining education can thus be attributed to poor education investment. A good example is the record of 2001/2002 that indicates 88% of all the money that was available in pre-university institutions went to current expenditure (wages and salaries). This shows that it was only 12% that was allocated to educational investment. Egypt has experienced educational levels imbalances. 90% of total education goes to pre-university education but it is amazing its total expenditure share is relatively low. Though Cairo is a city that has been in the forefront in declining fertility, there are still high levels of illiteracy (Chouaa and Noel 1).
There is inadequate qualification of teachers in pre-university education. The only levels where teachers are better qualified are in secondary and preparatory. Lately, there has been a policy that allowed hiring of teachers who have less than higher education and no pedagogical training. This has allowed so many disqualified teachers in primary level. There is no way education can be fruitful if autonomy and self learning is not there. The Egyptian education system highly relies on rote learning. Their system of education is mainly based on examination and selection and this has demotivated teachers to experiment with new teaching methodologies. To have teachers who are delivering the content to the students with motivation calls for the use of motivation tactics including better salaries and benefits. Teachers in Egypt have been receiving very low wages. This has contributed to increased dependence on private tutoring (Egypt News 1). Thus the society is highly affected as this has created very high household expenditures to them.
For the past decade, no considerable improvement in school facilities, class size and student-teacher ratio has been experienced. In various educational levels there has been a decreasing classroom density. In 1991/1992 classroom density moved from 42 to 39 in 2005/2006. Student-teacher ratio in pre-university moved from 24 in 1996 and went down to 22.3 in 2000. Even though there has been promising results in improvement of access to theatres, painting rooms, music room and library, most of them are still not put to use as required. Where a multimedia room is available only 56% of the classes utilize it. More efforts have also been made to improve primary level of education together with incusing of engineering even though quality is still a problem (SIDDIQUI 1).
Low quality of education in higher education is attributed to several issues (Birdsall 1). Governing of higher education is under a centralized system. In this system civil servants can only be promoted by years and budget allocations are not healthy enough. Thus, incentives for improving teacher performance in higher education levels have been drastically reduced. There are several unqualified assistants and graduates students who have assumed teaching responsibilities. This compromises quality of instruction. There are high levels of absenteeism for teachers at various faculties aligned in professional programs. Administrative employees are so many and this number varies in different faculties. Research show that administrative to teacher staff ratio is almost 1.25:1 and this can vary in other faculties. Most of Egypt's university education is subsidized but what is of major concern is the drop out rates and repetition.
For those who join Middle Technical institutes (MTI), they still have skills scarcity in the labor market since these institutions provide poor education quality. The quality offered by MTIs gives very little in terms of meeting the needs of the labor market. There are very high drop out rates in MTIs since only 50% of them are able to graduate. Current education system has to engage information technology systems but in most MTIs there is no IT and computers. There is limitation of laboratories and equipment and the ones that are available have poor repair and very old. Unemployment rates are so high for graduates from technical secondary institutions. Average unemployment rate in 2006 among young individuals who are between 15-29 was 10.7%. For males from Technical secondary institutions, their unemployment was 17.6% while for the university graduates it was 26.2%. Females from technical secondary institutions have unemployment rate of 42.2% while the university graduates had 41.1%. Between 1998 and 2006, unemployment had increased among university graduates. The major reason why there is such high level of unemployment is because most of the Egyptian youths join technical secondary institutions and they don't learn relevant practical skills required that are required by employers in the private sector (Alan 1). There is also a problem with the way the Ministry of Education allocates funds to Vocational Training Institutes (VTCs). Funds allocation is based on mechanical basis where there is no respect given to market-relevance, education quality and training efficiency that is provided. Training programs have failed to adjust to quality and type of skills that the employers want. Most employers in Egypt have been considering the provided training by VTCs and MTIs to be very low in market relevance and quality (Amer 15). Curriculum development methodologies in VTCs are poor. They are unable to monitor, modify and evaluate curricula. Equipment in VTCs is in bad condition and has few relevance to the trainee's needs and program relevance.
Egypt education system is highly biased against the poor population. It highly depends on "tutorial" systems where private tutors are used by families so that high marks in General Secondary Education can be obtained. Moreover, tutors are used in order for people to get an entry into university and particularly in prestigious faculties like engineering and medicine. This has created social inequalities in the population (Faksh 1). Equity has been a problem in higher education as a lot of resources are allocated to it at the expense of primary education. Enrollments in secondary schools are too low for rural youths and this has created an "urban bias" (Gazaleh 22) University enrollments have been mainly in humanity courses. For example, between 1971 and 1984, enrolments for science students fell from 55% to 26.3%. The same followed between 1984 and 1989 and the enrollment fell to 25.3%. Absence of charges in university admission increased enrollments but this compromised quality of education (encyclopedia.com 1). On top of this, there was no job guarantee from government. This has forced many to seek foreign employment in oil rich economies in the Gulf. Egyptians have faced difficulties in the labor market due to such expansion of enrollments where quality of education has been compromised (Keddie 189). The number of university graduates has been rising every day and since most of them are in humanity related fields, prospects of securing jobs are scanty.
Research in universities has been adversely affected since it is government funded. In all Arab countries, Egyptian researchers are the worst paid. The low salaries fro the researchers have affected teaching and research quality in Egypt. This has affected students so much as professors are forced to increase their earnings by selling lecture notes, photocopies and books to them (Springuel and Belal 7). A professor in an Egyptian university prefers a large class so that they can make more money by selling the notes to students and this eventually increases the student teacher ratio. Scholarship programs have been affected by this salary problem as professors don't prioritize research. Some professors opt to use their free time by taking high-paying consultancies or teaching in private universities. This reduces the time they have to perform academic research. This means that the students are the bearers of the problem as they will not receive quality education that can guarantee them competency in the job market.
Egyptian higher education has for long suffered from external inefficiencies. There has been long standing imbalance between services demanded by job market from the graduates and their supply by the universities. The government of Egypt's job guarantee created this disequilibrium. The government decided to hire all graduates but as a result open unemployment was averted. From this research, it is however understood that this policy of guaranteed employment increased enrollment in higher education. This forced the government to hire more graduates in these institutions. A vicious circle was created and it was unsustainable in for budgetary reasons. The final result was segmentation of labor market. Egypt's unemployment statistics have been biased due to the "de jure" government job guarantee. Those who are unemployed are those who are registered with the ministry of labor. These are people who are actually queuing to be employed by government. These people have to re-register after every 12 months and prove that they don't have another job. There is no unemployment insurance system in Egypt and thus these people subsist from earnings in informal sector or in the largesse of their relatives.
Due to poor quality of education in Egyptian universities with lack of equipment, poor research and poor instruction methods inducing rote learning engineering students have faced the same problem. This research shows that engineering graduates in Egypt need four years in order to obtain a satisfactory job. Some of the things this problem is attributed to are lack of ample non-classroom materials and English language facility. These graduates still have the problem of getting the kind of job that they would like. The main reason why this is so is due to the fact that most engineering firms don't require university engineers so much as their training is mainly in design (whether of chemical processes, computers or bridges and others). They want technicians who are capable of maintaining and implementing existing designs. Thus due to poor quality in Egyptian universities, there are very few engineering graduates who secure jobs as technicians (American Friends of the Middle East & Africa-Middle East Educational and Training Services 17).
This research shows that there decline in education has affected Egyptian youths who graduate from universities as they have scanty chances to get an employment. Non-classroom materials and English facilities could enhance the practical skills in engineering graduates so that they can secure jobs not only in the private sector but also from government institutions. It has not been easy for women in this system of education. Gender disparities have been widespread for several decades (Hyde 37). Instructional methods applied emphasize rote learning and this is not good for the society. Memorization cannot produce students who have the labor needs in this country. It's because of some of the policies that have been adopted that have acted to the detriment of education system in Egypt.