Egyptian society has been rocked by two incidents involving the fragile education sector that have sent shock waves through the country.
The first incident is that of a father who set himself on fire in the Nile Delta town of Kafr El-Dawar to protest his son’s school’s decision to withhold textbooks until until they get paid.
The man, identified by local media only as AM, poured a substance on his clothes inside the elementary school because of the ‘mistreatment’ by the headmistress of the school and his refusal to hand over the textbooks to his son.
The second incident came in the form of statements by Education Minister Reda Hijazi on the need to allow private tutoring centers, which sparked a storm of controversy on social media platforms.
Education expert Dr Kamal Moghith commented on the first incident saying, “What was the constitutional and legal basis that [President, Abdul Fattah] Sissi, [Prime Minister, Mostafa] Madbouly and [former Education Minister] Tariq Shawky, has decided to rescind the provision of free education in public schools, Section 19 of the 2014 Constitution and Section 6 of the Education Act 1981…after this principle was instilled in Egyptian constitutions and laws in the years 1923, 1944, 1950 and 1961″.
Moghith questioned whether the current government cared about working in accordance with the law, the Constitution and Egypt’s “glorious history”, and therefore decided to abolish the offer of free education, or if it was a matter of brutality and disregard for the law and the Constitution that Egypt has not known since it drafted its first Constitution more than 150 years ago.
In turn, the Education Minister’s remarks on the licensing of private tutoring centers also sparked a storm of controversy.
A social media user commented on the Minister’s remarks saying, “I want to know why I should pay tuition fees if the centers are accredited?”
For his part, renowned actor Nabil Al-Halfawi castigated the minister’s remarks, saying “I don’t think he [Education Minister] even considered the repercussions of his idea.”
Dr Wafaa Ibrahim, former Dean of Women’s College at Ain Shams University, said the minister’s proposal ends the concept of school as we know it.
“I am afraid that when the prestige of the teacher has been lost, the school will turn into approved private tutoring centres,” she added.
Egypt: Man sets himself on fire after school confiscates his son’s textbooks