Kindergartens in Egypt

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Education is compulsory in Egypt from age 6-14; however, there are many children who do not attend school at all. In theory, Egyptian children have access to education from as early as age four, when they enroll in pre-school and kindergarten. The Ministry of Education stipulates that no child under four may enroll in a state school (international schools may take children as young as three years and nine months), and caps class sizes at 45 students. According to the guidelines, each “class” of 45 students should be helped by two teachers plus an assistant (ideally, they should also be supplemented by a music teacher). In pre-school and kindergarten, the Egyptian system emphasizes social, physical and emotional development rather than “academic” learning. At this level, children are not given homework.

 

Many years ago, few kindergartens were open as nurseries that were also able to provide services to young mothers working in offices and factories. Over the years, the system has grown and become indispensable to many families. Due to the availability of many KG institutions, working mothers can now bring their children with them even if they are still very young. They may be brought in at 8 in the morning right before the regular workday starts. Mothers will then pick them up again by 5 pm.

 

Minister of Education Tarek Shawky recently stated that English will be taught in kindergartens for the first time in Egypt, as a separate subject from other subjects like science and mathematics; in fact, all of Egypt’s public schools use Arabic as the primary language in teaching. This new education system aims to ensure that the students master the Arabic language well and to acquire the basics of the English language before studying science and mathematics in English in the first year of elementary school. A third language will also be introduced beginning from the first year of elementary education.

 

The new curriculums are based on four standards: teaching the child who they are, learning about the world around them and how the world works along with developing methods of communication and respect for others. The Ministry of Education has already completed developing the new curriculum for kindergarten and the updated books, which are completely owned by the Ministry. Since the new education system also incorporates technology, the Ministry of Education cooperated with the Ministry of Communications to deliver internet access to 2180 schools out of a target of 2382 schools. The Ministry of Education is also preparing to receive over one million tablets from Samsung for the new academic year to replace the old system with new digital devices. The training of first grade and kindergarten teachers was completed last August, yet this is only the initial steps of training as the process will continue throughout the year in more depth.    At the Sixth National Conference for Youth held at Cairo University this July, Dr. Tarek Shawky outlined the main features of the new education system which includes no exams from first to fourth grade and to allow the students to take a book with them to the exam.

 

These changes, as Shawky stressed, are part of the effort to move away from the superficial way of learning and memorizing and to help students developing new skills. The ambitious curriculum of KG education is to strengthen the concept of learning outside the classroom, teach environmental sciences and its principles, use inquiry-based and hands-on educational methods, increase the environmental awareness, enable students to participate in society and foster creative thinking among students. Annual fees vary a lot; some schools ask for annual fees of $ 300, while the expensive ones can ask more than $ 6000.

 

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