Overall, the Egyptian system is characterized by distinct disparities in enrollment and graduation ratios between urban and rural regions, as well as between affluent and low-income households. About two-thirds of preparatory school graduates go on to upper-secondary education, which lasts three years grades 10 to 12 and is not mandatory. The number of Egyptians enrolled in upper-secondary education has mushroomed by an enormous 65 percent over the last decade. This trend is driven by population growth as well as by increasing participation rates: The net enrollment ratio at this stage of education grew from Depending on their grades in the preparatory graduation examination, students can enroll in a general secondary university-preparatory or a technical secondary stream.
In , 55 percent of students enrolled in the technical stream, while 45 percent studied in the general secondary track. The latter percentage includes students at Al-Azhar schools, which teach a general secondary curriculum that emphasizes Islamic studies. Less than 9 percent of upper-secondary students were enrolled in private institutions in At present, there are two different streams in the general secondary track: literary and science.
All students in both streams study Arabic, English, religion, and citizenship education, but specialize in history, philosophy, psychology, and sociology in the literary stream, while students in the science track take subjects like biology, chemistry, mathematics, and physics. In addition, students choose from a range of electives, such as additional foreign languages, social studies, or music.
However, the system is currently in flux—the MOE is rolling out a more integrated general secondary school curriculum that will collapse the two separate streams into one. Upper-secondary education concludes with a highly difficult final examination Thanaweya Amma at the end of grade Performance on this standardized test in core subjects and electives is the main criterion for admission into public higher education in Egypt.
Students who pass are awarded the General Secondary Education Certificate. Until recently, the exam was an external nationwide exam, but starting this year it will be administered in schools.
In , about , students sat for the exams. Given the difficulty and importance of the high-stakes test, growing numbers of Egyptian students are relying on private tutoring to prepare for it. They have become an increasing financial burden on families, so much so that the MOE has started to close down some of these schools and is considering banning private tutoring altogether. Another problem is examinations fraud.
The leaking of exam questions, for instance, has become so prevalent that the government resorted to deploying electronic scanners to search candidates for cell phones and now penalizes exam leaking with up to one year of jail time. In , it was reported that the government transported exam questions in military helicopters under guard of the Egyptian army. To decrease the importance of final exams, which are now taken online, the MOE is also implementing a new testing system that will feature 12 exams dispersed over the entire three-year upper-secondary cycle four each year , with the final GPA calculated on the basis of the four highest scored exams.
To switch assessment from rote memorization to analytical skills, test takers are now allowed to bring textbooks and tablets into test centers.
Technical education is provided in three- and five-year programs after preparatory education. Three-year programs are offered in three main specializations: industrial, commercial, and agricultural. Industrial programs are the most popular and agricultural programs, the least. The curriculum consists of general education subjects usually around 50 percent , vocational subjects 40 percent , and electives 10 percent.
The certificate provides access to post-secondary programs at related technical institutes see below , and university programs, as long as students score high enough on the final exams. Five-year programs lead to the Advanced Technical Diploma. While these programs are also grouped into industrial, commercial, and agricultural streams, they provide vocational education at a higher level and usually include more concrete subject specializations, such as electronics engineering or tourism management, for example. Like the Technical Secondary Certificate, this credential provides access to higher education.
In addition to formal secondary TVET programs, there are informal training programs, such as apprenticeship programs and dual programs that combine theoretical instruction at vocational training centers with practical training. These programs are typically designed for employment and do not provide access to higher education. There is not much data available on this sector, but the UN and others have estimated that as of there were between and 1, vocational training centers run by government institutions with some , trainees.
While the percentage of students in technical secondary education has decreased significantly in recent years since a higher share of students opt for the university-preparatory track, the overall number of TVET students has surged. It is perceived as a … last resort for academically low-performing students who are denied access to the general education. In addition, many of the roughly , students that graduate from secondary vocational school each year face poor employment prospects due to graduates being ill equipped for current labor market demands.
The MOE is seeking to address this problem by shifting student evaluations from testing theoretical knowledge to assessing practical skills. According to current proposals, practical competency assessment will make up to 70 percent of the final graduation exams in the future. As of , Egypt had 31 private universities and 26 public universities , including Al-Azhar University, in addition to a number of other government HEIs, such as the military academies or the Egyptian Police Academy. Whereas most public universities are large multi-faculty research institutions, many of them with branch campuses across the country, private institutions tend to be much smaller.
Most of them are for-profit institutions enrolling fewer than 10, students. Many private universities are located in Cairo and offer only undergraduate programs.
Education in Egypt: A Brief Review and Interesting Facts
The public Alexandria University is the largest Egyptian university with , students in The number of private higher institutes has grown steadily over the past decades, from 40 in the mids to in While public HEIs have a certain degree of academic autonomy, the Ministry of Higher Education and the Supreme Council of Public Universities regulate matters like the structure of degree programs, admissions requirements, and enrollment quotas. Private institutions have greater freedoms, but they need government approval to operate and must comply with the regulations of the Supreme Council of Private Universities—a body headed by the Ministry of Higher Education.
Over the past two decades, the Egyptian government has undertaken various efforts to raise quality standards at HEIs. In order for universities to be granted full institutional accreditation, at least 60 percent of their faculties must be accredited. Accreditation is granted for periods of five years during which institutions must continue to submit annual self-assessments. In , the American University in Cairo was the only university that received full institutional accreditation, while only 16 public university faculties did.
By , the latter number had risen to public university faculties, 18 Al-Azhar faculties, and 66 faculties affiliated with private institutions. However, that represents only 19 percent of all faculties. University admissions at public institutions is based on the General Secondary Certificate Examination.
The process is centralized with the Ministry of Higher Education setting admissions quotas for universities and assigning students to programs based on their exam scores or final GPA under the new system currently being implemented. Cutoff scores for specific programs are set annually and vary widely by institution and program. In , the minimum average score for graduates in the science stream ranged from to out of a possible Higher institutes have lower score grade cutoffs than universities.
Grade requirements are particularly stringent for medical programs. There are no additional entrance examinations or other admissions criteria at public universities, except in the case of a few select programs. Holders of the Technical Secondary Certificate may also enter university programs, but only if they have very high exam scores.
While almost percent of general secondary graduates go on to higher education, merely Private universities are free to set their own admissions requirements, even though the Supreme Council of Private Universities sets an overall minimum grade threshold. Concrete admissions requirements at private institutions vary, but they are often less competitive than at public universities, so that private institutions tend to absorb those students that could not get admitted into public HEIs.
The country is currently developing a national qualifications framework that categorizes higher education into five levels, as indicated below. Technical Diplomas Diplom al-Fanni are usually awarded after two years of study in vocationally oriented disciplines at technical institutes. Curricula are applied with no general education requirements.
Seven Things to Know About Egypt’s New Education System
Examples of curricular specializations include construction technology, secretarial studies, or medical lab technology. The three-year Higher Diploma of Technology is awarded by higher technical institutes and some universities, typically in engineering disciplines. Curricula are fairly standardized and require few if any general education courses; compulsory subjects outweigh electives. However, the longer programs in professional disciplines may include a preparatory year that covers general subjects, mostly related to the field of study. Some universities but far from all use a credit hour system that defines a year of study as 30 to 36 credit hours.
Progression to the next year of study and graduation is based on examinations; a thesis is usually not required. Grading scales vary widely by institution and faculty and include numerical 0— scales, U.
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A grade average of at least 50 percent of the total mark is generally required for graduation. Distance education and online learning are slowly becoming more prominent, but are generally uncommon and not well respected by Egyptian employers. Graduate degrees are almost exclusively awarded by universities. Most programs include a thesis and involve 30 to 42 credit hours of course work completed in the first phase of the program at institutions that use a credit system.