A few weeks ago (10/23/2011), almasry-alyoum newspaper published an article about the poor physical conditions of some schools in Egypt. One picture showed 2,000 students sitting on (Hasira) straw mats that were wet from sewer water. In another picture, the roof of a school was removed. In Maadi, there are two schools on both sides of Street 4, which I used to pass by. I counted the broken windows and calculated that they comprised 25% of all the schools’ windows. Some windows were even covered with cardboard. Such schools are located in middle and upper middle class neighborhoods. It seems to me that teachers and in particular principals of these schools have lost their innovative abilities to be more creative in taking the initiative to fix such minor things as broken windows. It is understandable that during the past 40 years or so, the government has ignored its responsibilities in many areas.
Education in general is the most vital area for the progress of Egyptian society. Even the physical structure of a school tends to have an impact on a student’s ability to learn. For example, schools that are not heated and during winter, a broken window or a school without a proper roof will impact students’ ability to learn, due to the low temperature.
I am sure if the principals of these schools, especially in Maadi, asked the parents to contribute only one Egyptian pound to fix the windows, that there would be enough response to overcome such minor problems.
Nearly 50% of Egyptians are living near or below the poverty line. However, I am astonished to read in al-shoruq news (9/27/2011) that there are 76.43 million cellular phones in use in Egypt. In 2010, the number of people who paid their regular fees was 58.972 million people. Keep in mind that the total population of Egypt at that time was around 83 million.
The point I would like to bring to the attention of some responsible is the fact that leveling a minimal tax fee of one pound per cellular phone each month will not create too much of a financial strain on users. The suggested of one Egyptian pound should also be matched by the three cellular phone companies (Itisalaat Masr, Mobinile, and Vodaphone of Egypt). If such proposal is implemented, it will generate more than one hundred million Egyptian pounds per month, and over 1.5 billion pounds a year. The money should be allocated not only to fixing the physical deterioration of schools, but also to build hundreds of new schools per year and equip these schools with modern technology. The Egyptians, throughout and even prior to recorded history, have created an advanced and civilized society when European ancestors were still living in caves.
The Egyptian public should respond to their society’s needs and stop relying on their government. The younger Egyptian generation, who were the vanguard of the January 25th revolution, can assume such a task and the public will be supportive of their efforts.
The new Egyptian Minister of Education, Gamal al Arabi has announced his coming trip to visit different schools in Egypt. He will meet with teachers to discuss the improvement of the quality of education. Furthermore, the new minister is requesting an additional increase of 800 million Egyptian pounds for the education budget to reach 3.6 billion pounds for the academic year 2012-2013. The proposed budget is still not enough to impact the quality of education of more than 20 million students attending schools in Egypt.