Egypt Education Reform Program: USAID and AIR Help Improve Education along the Nile

Washington, D.C. — In the poorest communities of Egypt students often attend only three years of school. Just 57 percent of Egypt’s total population over the age of 15 is literate, with less than half of Egypt’s women being able to read and write. Recently, Egypt has begun to change things for the better.

The American Institutes for Research, through a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), will help Egypt facilitate reform efforts through the Egypt Education Reform Program (ERP). The ERP is designed to serve and strengthen the quality of education through both formal school environments and non-formal education programs in Egypt.

The core premise of the ERP is a progressive one: establish an effective and efficient decentralized education model that strikes an appropriate balance between central and local management and increases the quality of education outcomes. AIR is the lead partner in the ERP, providing highly qualified staff to manage the various project implementation sites and programs. Other partners include EDC and World Education.

Seven of Egypt’s 24 governorates (comparable to states) have been selected as project implementation sites—strategically located along the Nile, extending from the very north of Egypt to the south, including both urban and rural environments. Within each governorate a “family of schools” has been identified to participate in the various interventions that will be designed to achieve the program goals. A “family of schools” consists of approximately 15 pre-school centers, 18-20 primary schools, 8-10 preparatory schools, 2-3 secondary schools, and 2-3 vocational centers.

With only 74 percent of girls in rural areas attending primary school, the ERP aims to create mechanisms for increasing the participation of girls and women in learning. One method will be to award scholarships to girls that cover the expense of school fees and required supplies, with a goal to administer a total of 125,000 girls’ scholarships. 

The formal schools will be supported through activities such as the establishment and training of local school governance organizations, strengthening teachers’ instructional skills to meet performance standards, mobilizing the private sector to establish job referral systems, and assessing students’ academic performance.  

The capacity of community development associations to support learning opportunities will be strengthened by the management of Education Trust Funds and encouraging more community involvement. These Trust Funds are community-based, established to improve the quality of the schools and provide funding for textbooks, materials and other needs. Support for community and NGO participation will take place with field-driven grants for activities such as: literacy programs, parent education, parent council training, early childhood programs, and incorporation of life skills into organizational activities. Learning opportunities for pre-school children and adults (life skills, literacy) will also be expanded and local providers will gain access to existing materials and research on topics such as early childhood education.

The U.S. Agency for International Development administers the U.S. foreign assistance program providing economic and humanitarian assistance in more than 80 countries worldwide.

AIR, founded in 1946, is a recognized leader in the behavioral and social sciences. It is a non-partisan, not-for-profit organization engaged in domestic and international research, development, evaluation, analysis, product development, training and technical assistance and assessment.

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Dana Tofig

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