-Nation Center for Education Statistics- The Arab Republic of Egypt, which is a country located in the North of Africa, one of the most populous countries in Africa and the 15th most populated in the world, with over 84 million people (CIA 2010 est. ) According to UNESCO in 2008, in a 5 year period (2005-2010), after the government had spent 12. 6% of the national GDP on education, the adult literacy rate had moderately raised from 55. 6% to 72. 0%. However, because of population growth, the number of illiterates around Egypt was still very high, with nearly 17 million people.
This report was commissioned by the Department of Education in Egypt to investigate into the literacy issue in Egypt. The issue needs to be addressed as soon as possible. This report will now research about the current level of literacy in Egypt, what are the issues that make the literacy rates low and some recommendations to improve literacy rates. 2. Findings 2. 1. Poverty One of the biggest factors that affects Egypt’s literacy rate is poverty.
Figure 1. Reproduced from “Child Labor in Egypt: Research Project submitted in fulfillment of the requirement of B. Sc.in Statistics” (2011) Figure 1 shows that not being interested in school and not being able to afford schooling are the dominant reasons for children to leave school, with 45% of child laborers think that school aren’t important with them, and 29% them cannot afford enough tuition fees.
For those who work, they considered education is not important for them; however, what is considered priority with them is work is the best way to get out of poverty area. Because the tuition fees in Egypt are rather high, many families in Egypt cannot afford it, along with additional education costs.
According to Suliman and El-Kogali (2000), besides of tuition fees, families have to pay additional costs on text books, school uniforms, tutorial lessons, and transportation if they want their children to continue their education. A report from El Dawla in 2000 shows that “the average cost of education per child in families with an annual income of less than or equal to $1,028 is an estimated $98 at the primary level and $129 at the preparatory level”. Therefore, poor families receive no education because of their limited household budget.
2. 2. Child marriage Figure 2, reproduced from Why Are The Children Out Of School? Factors Affecting Children’s Education in Egypt, A Paper for the ERF 9th annual conference (2001) According to Figure 2, the number of girls from 6-15 years old who have never attended school is much higher compare to the number of boys in Egypt, especially in rural areas. For example, in Matroh, over 40% of girls have never attended schools compare with 23% of boys, and the rate in Beni Suef and Behera are 37%, 10% and 18%, 6% respectively.
A survey published in 2012 by the National Council for Women illustrated the scale of the issue of early marriage in Egypt, in which the result is that 22% of girls were married before they were 18 (El Masry, 2012). Many girls from 6-15 years old are not able to attend and finish school because Egyptian families do not want to spend money on girls who will be involved in early marriages, and they always try to arrange their daughters’ wedding as soon as possible. This is because Egypt’s old tradition that the fiancee tend to give the wife’s mother a lot of prosperities after the wedding.
Apparently in 2008, the Parliament of Egypt passed new laws banning female circumcision and setting 18 as the minimum age for marriage for both genders. However, some Egyptian parents still permit their children to get married very early. Furthermore, parents does not either motivate their children to study; or care much about their children’s education, all they want is to preserve their old-fashioned traditional practices; therefore leads to the low literacy rate of Egypt. 2. 3. Dropout rates Figure 3, reproduced from “Why Are The Children Out Of School?
: Factors Affecting Children’s Education in Egypt, A Paper for the ERF 9th annual conference” (2001) There is a similarity between Figure 2 and 3, as both of the charts indicate that Matroh has the highest rate in terms of never attending schools and dropping out, with over 40% and approximately 10% respectively. Suliman and El-Kogali (2000), their survey on mother’s perception’s reason of drop out shows that the main reasons for the significant dropout rate are because education is not important for children (especially girls), and the only thing they must do is to make money to support their families’ wealth.
Assaad, Deborah and Zibani (2001) prove that the dropout rate in Egypt has a strong bond with child labor, which is very common in Egypt and many other Muslim countries. This is because children from poor families in those countries are more likely to be forced to work, therefore, it is less likely that they will be attending school, consequently leading to illiteracy. Furthermore, Nadine et al (2011) show that the number of child laborers in Egypt are between 1. 3 to 3 million, with agricultural factor involves up to 78%.
Ultimately, this lead to the decision that it is better for children to stop schooling and start working to make money. 3. Conclusion The Arab Republic of Egypt’s low literacy rates, which result from poverty, early marriage and high dropout rate have caused many negative impacts for the countries such as lacks of human resources and affect its economies. Despite the Department of Education had took actions to improve the country’s literacy rate with the help of some non-profit organisations such as UNESCO or World Education, it is still low compare to other countries.
The Department should use new methods and approaches in which may result in a higher literacy rate. 4. Recommendations 4. 1. Poverty The Department of Education needs to have more involvement in public education in Egypt. Firstly, the Department should find supports for public schools. Also, the Department can ask for other NPOs or NGOs like UNICEF or UNESCO to supply poor children in rural areas with studying materials such as books or pens. This will decrease the cost burden for the household who have limited budget to invest in children’s education.
Along with building more public schools, some regulations need to be executed in order to control the additional costs of schooling. For example, the Department should support transportations for students, or check teachers’ qualifications in order to make sure that every child in Egypt can access education without any obstacles. Therefore, with better facilities and better qualities of teaching, there will be an increase in Egypt’s literacy rate. 4. 2. Child marriage The Department should promote a series of campaigns that help Egyptians to raise their awareness about the importance of women’s education.
These campaigns should be organised through all means of media, including radio, television, or even via presentations. If women and children can realize the importance of education, they can have chances to be educated, therefore this will solve the problem of girls’ high rate of child marriage and indirectly improve Egypt’s literacy rate. 4. 3. Dropout rates The Department should create more opportunities to encourage children to go to school by providing free education to children in rural areas. Also, the government can provide students with scholarship to support students’ studying path.
Doing this, children will have more motivation to go to school, thus can increase the overall literacy rate. 5. References Assaad, R, Deborah, L, Zibani, N, 2001, “The Effect of Child Work on School Enrollment in Egypt’, Economic Research Forum, viewed 20 June, 2013. CIA, 2010, “The World Factbook”, CIA, viewed 20 June, 2013. El Dawla, A, “Trap for Democracy”, Social Watch, 2000, viewed 27 June, 2013. El Masry, S, 2012, “Under-reported and underage: Early marriage in Egypt”, Daily News Egypt, December 5, 2012, viewed 27 June, 2013.
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