Egyptian society is comparatively homogeneous ethnically and religiously. Around 90% of Egyptians are Muslims and 10% are Christians. After the revolution, polarization took place between Islamist and secular groups. Both currents are strong and the future direction of state and society is constantly being renegotiated between the various groups.
Alphabetized adults: 71.2% (CIA world factbook, 2020)
major religions: Islam (Sunni) approx. 90%, Christianity approx. 10%
Urban population: 42.8% (CIA world factbook, 2020)
Expectation of life (female / male): 75.3 / 72.3 years (CIA world factbook, 2020)
Gender Inequality Index: Rank 102 of 162 (2018, HDR)
Number of births: 3.29 / woman (CIA world factbook, 2020)
Infant mortality: 17.1 / 1000 live births (CIA WF, 2020)
According to naturegnosis, the education sector is one of the greatest challenges for Egypt: Despite increased investments, the infrastructure of educational institutions is still patchy; rapid population growth exacerbates the problem. In the governorates where the quality of life is rated comparatively high according to the HDI, such as Port Said, Suez or Cairo (in contrast to the low-rated Beni Suef, Assiut and Suhag), the problems in the education sector are the factor that drives them most impaired. Substantial additional government investment is required for a fundamental reform.
Public schooling in Egypt is free but of poor quality. Teachers are severely underpaid. As a consequence, a culture of private (and better paid) lessons after school, which is provided by the same teachers, has developed, albeit repeatedly denounced. Efforts to improve the situation so far have included the extension of compulsory schooling from 8 to 9 years, which has been in effect since 1999. This covers six years of primary school and a three-year preparatory period; This is followed by an optional three-year secondary education.
Higher education is under its own ministry. The educational reform carried out under Gamal Abdal Nasser greatly expanded access to universities. Over 1.3 million students are currently being educated at Egypt’s thirteen state universities. The large number of students often results in a relatively low level of instruction, and those who can afford it attend one of the expensive private universities.
There are six private universities, including the long-established American University in Cairo. The German University Cairo, which opened in October 2003, offers six technically oriented courses based on German curricula. The large number of university graduates cannot be absorbed by the labor market, and unemployment among young graduates is a major problem in Egypt.
The same applies to other qualified occupations: Although there is a lack of staff in various areas, the vocational training system is incomplete and the recruitment procedures are often not transparent. The Mubarak Kohl Initiative, founded in 1991, implements dual vocational training based on the German model in Egypt and aims to counteract this problem.
Women and education
In recent years there have been numerous programs to promote the education of girls and women, which have also been supported by German development cooperation. Even so, there are still a number of problems. Egypt still has one of the highest female illiteracy rates in the Arab world. According to the World Bank(2017) still almost 22% of all women between the ages of 15 and 24 are illiterate. Only Morocco is worse off in the category of Arab countries with lower middle incomes. In the 15 to 49 age group, a total of 35.3% of all women are illiterate. However, there are major regional differences. In the city, over 80% of women can read and write, in the country just over 50%. In Upper Egypt the illiteracy rate is significantly higher than in Cairo and the Nile Delta. In Upper Egypt, almost 43% of all Egyptian women but only just under 22% of all men have never attended school.
There are both economic and cultural obstacles that make it difficult for girls to access education. Attending school not only burdens the family budget directly with additional expenses for school uniforms, books and notebooks, the trip to school and the now de facto mandatory additional study groups offered by teachers. In addition, there are opportunity costs in the form of paid work or support for the mother with housework and looking after small siblings, which girls cannot do during school time. The former also applies to boys, but when the budget is tight, boys’ schooling often has priority over girls, as they are later expected to support their future families, which becomes increasingly difficult without education. Even if the way to school is long or not safe,
From secondary school onwards, the picture changes and the gender gap begins to close. According to UNICEF, 73% male and 69% female adolescents attended secondary school in the period 2005-2009. At 49%, almost half of the students in Egyptian universities and higher education institutions today are women.