Education is the cornerstone of our community and is vital to its development and progress. It completely changes our mind and personality and helps us attain positive attitudes.
The problem with the education system in Egypt is that there is a huge gap in the education quality between social classes. Nonetheless, children that attend public schools have lower quality education than those who attend private schools. This issue is severely grave in Egypt, unlike in France where public schools are of higher levels and better quality.
According to UNICEF, Egypt ranks at the bottom of the participating countries and falls at number 49 out of 50 countries of grade-4 students in reading, 34 out of 39 countries of grade-8 students in mathematics, and 38 out of 39 countries of grade-8 students in science. With all these rankings we cannot possibly imagine how a child with special needs would feel. Therefore, we’ve decided that our final project is going to target the issue of special needs’ children in public vs. private schools in Egypt.
A normal class in any school should have around 20 to 25 children. This is the case in private schools, however, public or government-run schools have classes that have up to 70 children with classes that are absolutely non-equipped for these numbers. Therefore, the child does not get any education, teachers do not put in the effort to teach them as they are underpaid and can never be able to control all these people in such small classrooms. Moreover, this issue concerns all children, including children with special needs who need more attention and sometimes special treatment.
As aforementioned, there is a gap between education in both the public and the private sectors. However, when it comes to children with special needs, both sectors fail to provide these children with their needs and give them the social care they deserve. Fortunately, private schools’ students are more likely to have access to special help and shadow teachers, if needed, which comes as a perk with paying a lot of money in order to attain a high-quality education.
There is no doubt that paying attention to students with special needs has greatly increased in recent years in Egypt. Most schools now allow shadow teachers to accompany the student during the day, offer sessions with psychologists, and give extra time during exams when presented with medical certificates. Therefore, it is notable that the issue is being taken more seriously.
There have been several campaigns and efforts to help special needs children in their educational journey since 2002. However, this is unfortunately not applicable to Egyptian schools, as most schools are unequipped to deal with special needs students. They also tend to reject special needs application forms in order to avoid taking on bigger responsibilities. Some schools have rejected autistic children under the basis of protecting the other students’ level of education and avoiding any distractions. These are all cases of pure discrimination, ignorance, and intolerance, which is, unfortunately, a recurring theme in Egyptian schools.
According to Dr. Rania ElFoliey, a psychiatrist that works both in the public and private sectors with patients from both, students’ parents keep getting calls and warnings from schools to either change their children’s behavior or find them another school. Nevertheless, Dr. Foliey explained that the problem and difference between the sectors are down to the lack of funds and knowledge. Most public schools are not aware of or do not have the means to give the special needs children the basic facilities they deserve to have. Therefore, they’re forced to look for these means outside of school and sometimes cannot afford it, so they ignore the problem. Dr. Foliey also added that since the public-school students’ parents are from the low or middle class, they’re sometimes unaware of the issues their children are facing unless someone else points it out. Therefore, they ignore the issue and keep letting their children struggle. Other times, the parents just don’t have the money to help their children.
After evaluating the results of a conducted survey, 57.1% of students said that their peers with special needs were somewhat treated differently, whereas only 11.4% of students said that their peers were treated just the same way as they are. Most students also agreed that the biggest problems in the education system, whether for any student or those with special needs and disabilities, are the lack of services and the underqualified teachers. Therefore, it can be concluded that the government doesn’t spend enough money on education facilities, let alone special needs facilities.
Lastly, it is evident that the education system in Egypt needs a lot of modifications in order to enhance the learning experience for all students equally. The issue would be solved with more awareness across the country and by gathering funds in order to acquire the needed facilities. However, since the education system has several other problems, solving the matter will take some time.