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“Literacy is the ability to use printed and written information to function in society, to achieve one's goals, and to develop one's knowledge and potential.”
-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.
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 fiancée 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...
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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