March 23, 2015

How the education system in Egypt works

Naglaa Fathy Lithy

Global Youth Ambassador from Egypt

GYA Naglaa Fathy Lithy from Egypt


Education is an important tool that is applied in the world to succeed - it helps people to face the challenges of life.

The knowledge gained through education enables individuals’ potential to be optimally utilised, owing to the training of the human mind. This opens doors to opportunities and enables individual to achieve better prospects in career growth. Education is the foundation for developing individuals by providing knowledge. Education grants for us a better life. 

We will talk specifically about education in 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.

The public education system in Egypt consists of three levels: primary school for six years and preparatory school for three years. Then, the secondary school stage is for three years. All levels of education are free within any government-run schools - there are great differences in educational attainment between the rich and the poor, also known as the “wealth gap”.

GYA Naglaa Fathy Lithy from Egypt

Government schools

Generally speaking, there are two types of government schools: Arabic Schools and Experimental Language. The governmental national curriculum is in the Arabic language. A governmental English language curriculum is taught starting at first Primary year and either French, German, Spanish or Italian is added as a second foreign language in Secondary education. The good thing for Egyptians is that it is free but there is about 75 students per class for some of them.

Private schools

Generally speaking, there are four types of private schools:

  • Ordinary schools are quite similar to the government schools but the private schools pay more attention to the students' personal needs and to the school facilities
  • Language schools teach most of the government curriculum in English and add French or German as a second foreign language. Their fees are much higher. Some of these schools use French or German as their main language of instruction
  • Religious schools are religiously-oriented schools, such as Azhar schools or Catholic schools
  • International schools are private schools that follow another country's curriculum, like a British, American or French system and the degrees earned from them get official certification from the Ministry of Education

In 2010, a total of 2,646,000 students were enrolled across all tertiary levels. They attended one of 23 public universities, including Al-Azhar University, the oldest continuously running university in the world. There are 19 private universities; 18 public institutes of higher education and 81 private higher institutes.

The overall literacy rate in Egypt is 72% as of 2010, being 80.3% for males and 63.5% for females. There is special attention given by the government and other NGOs to reduce gender disparity in education and to achieve the 2015 Millennium Development Goal of universal primary education.

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