Education Systems in Africa Part XVI: Egypt

Egypt’s constitution states that education is the right of every citizen. Primary schooling for children ages 6-15 is compulsory, and the country’s leadership wants to extend obligatory education to higher cycles. Egypt’s government is also working towards greater access to education among poor, rural and nomadic citizens.

Preprimary education is limited and found mainly in urban areas. About 20% of pre-school age children currently are enrolled; Egypt has set a national goal of 60% enrollment by 2015. Primary schools begin at age six and last six years. Following primary school, students attend three-years of middle or preparatory school. At the end of the preparatory cycle, students sit for exams to earn their basic education completion certificate. Those who don’t complete the preparatory cycle or who fail completion exams may opt for vocational school.

Secondary education is provided by public, private, and Islamic schools and follows either a general or technical track. Students who pass exams at the end of general studies earn the General Secondary Education Certificate. Technical track students may choose either a  three or five-year course of studies; those passing leaving exams are awarded a Secondary School Technical Diploma (in commerce, industry or agriculture) or a Diploma of Advanced Technical Studies. Some secondary students opt for a two-year diploma which grants access to a higher technical institute or university program in their area of specialization.

The following chart depicts the grading scale for secondary and post-secondary institutions:

Scale

 

Description

U.S. Grade Equiv.

A

90.00-100.00

 

Excellent

A

A-

80.00-89.99

 

Very Good

A-

B

65.00-79.99

 

Good

B

C

50.00-64.99

 

Acceptable

C

D

35.00-49.99

 

Weak

D

F

0.00-34.99

 

Very Weak

F


Primary students study Arabic, religious education, mathematics, practical skills, and computers; students in grades 4-6 also learn social studies, science, art, physical education, and music.

Students in the preparatory cycle (grades 7-9) learn Arabic, religious education, a foreign language, mathematics, history, social sciences, art, physical education, music, technology, library, and practical studies.

General track secondary students study Arabic, religious studies, a foreign language, history and geography, mathematics, social sciences, physical and natural sciences, art, physical education, music, and technology. Technical track students add industrial and vocational subjects, including agriculture, design, and commerce.

Higher education in Egypt is provided by private and public universities and a variety of public institutes of technology and professional studies. Universities offer both academic and professional subjects, including pharmacy, engineering, and medicine. Egypt is in the process of reforming its higher education system along the lines laid out by the Bologna Process.