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Sistema de Información Científica
Red de Revistas Científicas de América Latina y el Caribe, España y Portugal
education policy analysis
archives
A peer-reviewed, independent,
open access, multilingual journal
Arizona State University
Volume 18
Number 5
March 1
st
, 2010
ISSN 1068–2341
Reforming Educational Governance and Management in Egypt:
National and International Actors and Dynamics
1
Mark Ginsburg
Academy for Educational Development, USA
Nagwa Megahed
Ain Shams University,
Egypt
with
Mohammed Elmeski
University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, USA
Nobuyuki Tanaka
Kobe University,
Japan
Citation: Ginsburg, M., Megahed, N., Elmeski, M., & Tanaka, N. (2010) Reforming educational
governance and management in Egypt: National and international actors and dynamics.
Educational Policy Analysis Archives, 18
(5). Retrieved [date], from
.
1
Accepted under the editorship of Sherman Dorn. The research on which this paper is based was
undertaken, in large part, in relation to work funded through the Educational Quality Improvement Project
(EQUIP) 2 Leader Award, funded by USAID/Washington and the Egypt Education Reform Program
(ERP), funded by USAID/Egypt.
Education Policy Analysis Archives Vol. 18 No. 5
2
Abstract
This historical case study examines the rhetoric, action, and outcomes of educational policy
reforms in Egypt during the first quarter-century of the presidency of Mohamed Hosni
Mubarak. The findings are based on an extensive review of Egyptian government, international
organization, and project documents as well as interviews with key stakeholders. The study
focused on proposed and implemented changes in the organization and distribution of various
governance and management functions across school/community, district/
idarra
,
governorate/
muddiriya
, and national/central levels of the education system. During the period
under review Egypt experienced movement though uneven toward increased decentralization,
with calls for deconcentration of responsibility in 1981, Ministry of Education actions that
restricted local decision-making authority in the 1990s, and some concerted efforts toward
delegation and devolution of authority as well as responsibility after 2001. In terms of
community participation, during this period there were calls for and actions toward
implementing broader and deeper forms and degrees of involvement by parents, civil society,
and businesses. We draw on the following concepts to analyze a develop an account of these
developments: institutional framework, financial resources, system leaders’ capacity and political
will, civil society’s leaders’ capacity and political will, global dynamics, and the role of
international organizations.
Keywords
: education system reform; decentralization; community participation; Egypt;
international organizations.
Reformando el gobierno y la administración Educativa en Egipto. Dinámicas y actores
Nacionales e Internacionales.
Resumen:
Este trabajo es un “estudio de casos histórico” que examina la retórica, acciones, y
los resultados de las reformas de políticas educativas en Egipto durante el primer
cuarto de
siglo de la Presidencia de Mohamed Hosni Mubarak. Las
conclusiones se basan en una extensa
revisión de documentos de proyectos del gobierno egipcio e organizaciones internacionales, así
como entrevistas con actores relevantes. El estudio se centró en las propuestas
y los cambios
implementados en la organización y distribución de funciones de gobierno y de gestión a través
de la escuela/ comunidad, distrito (o idarra), en la gobernación (o muddiriya), y los niveles
centrales nacionales del sistema educativo. Durante el período analizado, Egipto experimentó
movimientos de avance y retroceso, hacia una mayor descentralización, tales como los pedidos
de desconcentración de la responsabilidad en 1981, acciones del Ministerio de Educación que
restringían la autoridad y toma de decisiones locales en la década de 1990, y algunos esfuerzos
concertados para la delegación y descentralización de la autoridad como así como otras
responsabilidades después de 2001. En términos de participación comunitaria, durante este
período se hicieron llamamientos a favor y acciones para la implementación de formas más
amplias y con mayores grados de implicación de padres, la sociedad civil y las empresas. Nos
basamos en los siguientes conceptos para analizar y desarrollar una narrativa de estos cambios:
el marco institucional, recursos financieros, capacidad y voluntad política de los líderes del
sistema, capacidad y voluntad política de los líderes de la sociedad civil, dinámica mundial, y el
papel de las organizaciones internacionales.
Palabras-clave:
sistema de reforma educativa; descentralización; participación comunitaria;
Egipto; organizaciones internacionales.
Reforming Educational Governance and Management in Egypt
3
Reforma Educacional de governança e administração no Egito. Dinâmica e atores
nacionais e internacionais.
Resumo
: Este documento é um "estudo de caso histórico" que examina a retórica, as ações e os
resultados das reformas de política educacional no Egito durante os primeiros vinte e cinco anos da
Presidência da Mohamed Hosni Mubarak. As conclusões são baseadas em uma extensa revisão de
documentos de projetos do governo Egípcio e organizações internacionais e entrevistas com atores
relevantes. O estudo centrou-se nas propostas e mudanças implementadas na organização e
distribuição das funções de governo e de gestão em diferentes níveis como escola / comunidade,
município (ou
idarra
) e na instância federal/central do sistema educacional (ou
muddiriya
). Durante o
período em análise, o Egito experimentou avanços e retrocessos
em direção a uma maior
descentralização e desconcentração das responsabilidades em 1981; ações do Ministério da
Educação restringindo a autoridade de tomada de decisão dos atores locais na década de 1990;
alguns esforços para a delegação e descentralização de autoridade, bem como outras
responsabilidades após 2001. Em termos de participação comunitária, durante este período, se
fizerem
chamados e ações para a implementação de formas mais amplas e com maior envolvimento
dos pais, da sociedade civil e das empresas. Contamos com os seguintes conceitos para analisar e
desenvolver uma narrativa dessas mudanças: o quadro institucional, recursos financeiros, capacidade
e vontade política dos líderes do sistema, capacidade e vontade política dos líderes da sociedade civil,
a dinâmica global e o papel dos organizações internacionais.
Palavras-chave
: reforma do sistema educacional; descentralização; participação da comunidade;
Egito; organizações internacionais.
Introduction
In this article we present a case study of reforming educational governance and management
in Egypt from 1981 to 2007. The purpose of the case study is to document the rhetoric and efforts
to reform educational governance and management, indicate the extent of progress in such reforms
over time, and identify national- and international-level factors and dynamics that facilitated or
inhibited the reforms. The case study was developed by reviewing national government,
international organization, and reform project documents as well as published research and
commentary.
2
In addition, we conducted interviews with key informants between January and June
2008, focusing on their perceptions of progress in promoting decentralization and community
participation as well as conditions that enabled or constrained such reforms in Egypt during
different time periods.
3
2
Quotations of material from Arabic language documents were translated by Nagwa Megahed. All
interviews reported here were conducted, tape-recorded, and transcribed in English.
3
Interviewees included people who during the 1981–2007 period served as the Minister of Education
(Hussein Kamal Bahaa El Din), an Advisor to the Minister of Education or a Head of a National Center
(Hassan El Bilawi, Nadia Gamal El Din, and Mustafa El Samie), and USAID/Egypt mission staff members
(Hala El Serafy, Sally Patton, Jerry Wood, and Mona Zikri). One USAID staff member also worked for part
of this time in the World Bank office in Egypt. In addition, several ERP staff members provided valuable
insights, although they are not quoted as interviewees in this paper: Doc Coster, Lynn Mortensen, Osama
Salem, David Sloper, and John Yanulis. We express our sincere appreciation to all of these individuals for
their time and their thoughtful and candid responses to our questions.
Education Policy Analysis Archives Vol. 18 No. 5
4
One lens we employ in this case study is informed by the (national) technical, political, and
institutional dimensions that the AED EQUIP2 framework (Schuh Moore, 2007) describes as
shaping the institutionalization and sustainability of education reforms. The
technical dimensions
of
reform are the interventions or activities that are targeted for change. The
political dimensions
of
reform involve
political will
,
leadership
, and
civil society’s role
. The
institutional dimensions
of
reform include
institutional framework
or the legal statutes and charters that guide the rules of the
game,
institutional capacity
or the knowledge and skills of staff within organizations, and
financial/resource capacity
or the level of funds available from various sources. Our case study
focuses on the technical dimensions of educational governance and management (i.e.,
decentralization and community participation) and highlights the political dimensions of political
leaders’ will or desire to pursue or impede change. With respect to the institutional dimensions, we
give attention to the institutional framework (laws and decrees) as well as institutional capacity (the
knowledge and skills of community members as well as Ministry of Education [MOE] personnel),
while emphasizing the facilitating or hindering role of financial resources.
In addition, this case study of Egypt includes an international level of analysis, which is
critical for understanding educational reform (see Daun, 2002; Ginsburg, 1991). As Berman (1992)
explains:
Nation-states in the late twentieth century are part of an interdependent world
system… [For instance,] a network of international and national aid agencies
linked to and located in the industrialized [or richer] nations… [seek] to help…
[less industrialized or poorer] nations reconceptualize, expand, and reform their
educational systems.… This is not meant to suggest that national educational
systems lack… autonomy over their goals and activities, or that they are
manipulated unwittingly by donor agencies… [but] that the presence of donor
agencies introduces into national educational planning and implementation a
complex interplay of forces over which local policymakers and administrative
personnel cannot always exercise control and which frequently limit local options.
(pp. 58–59)
It is important to emphasize that “globalization… involves real [international
organization] actors—economic and political—with real (and sometimes conflicting) interests”
(Robertson, Bonal, & Dale, 2002, p. 472), and that in addition to multilateral and bilateral
intergovernmental organizations (e.g., World Bank and the United States Agency for
International Development [USAID]) global actors include multinational corporations and
international nongovernmental organizations. As Suarez (2007) demonstrates, for example,
intergovernmental organizations and international nongovernmental organizations serve as
“receptor sites for transnational ideas… [and as] carriers of modern reform.… [They] promote
and diffuse new ideas in education” (p. 7; see also McNeely, 1995; Terano & Ginsburg, 2008).
Nevertheless, these international organization actors are not autonomous but are constrained
and enabled by as well as contribute to global economic, political/military, and ideological
dynamics (Ginsburg, Cooper, Raghu, & Zegarra, 1990).
Key Concepts in Governance and Management Reform
Before presenting the Egyptian case, we briefly discuss the concepts and general rationale
for reforming educational governance and management, focusing on (de)centralization and
community participation.
Reforming Educational Governance and Management in Egypt
5
Decentralization
Centralization and decentralization represent “one of the great resonant themes of
contemporary politics” (Polsby, 1979, p. 1) and more specifically, decentralizing education systems
“is one of the issues most frequently raised by country representatives and other stakeholders at
various national and international events,… [having] become a virtual mantra of development”
(United Nations Education Science and Culture Organization [UNESCO], 2006, p. 1). Like many
themes and mantras, (de)centralization covers a range of meanings, including a distinction between
functional and territorial (de)centralization. As Bray (1999) states: “
Functional
centralization/decentralization refers to a shift in the distribution of powers between various
authorities that operate in parallel [i.e., at the same territorial level].…
Territorial
centralization/decentralization… refers to a redistribution of control among the different
geographic tiers of government, such as nation, states/provinces, districts, and schools… [and]
includes three major subcategories:
Deconcentration
is the process through which a central authority
establishes field units or branch offices, staffing them with its own officers…
Delegation
implies a
stronger degree of decision making power at the lower level, [though] power… still basically rest
with the central authority, which has chosen to ‘lend’ them to the local one…
Devolution
… [in
which] powers [and likely resources] are formally held at sub-national levels, the officers of which do
not need to seek higher-level approval for their actions” (pp. 208–209; emphasis added—see also
Cheema & Rondinelli, 1983; Lauglo, 1995; McGinn, 1992; Winkler, 1989).
In addition to promoting different forms of decentralization, advocates have posited
different rationales for decentralizing educational governance or management.
4
One rationale links
decentralization to the discourse of “democracy” and the inherent value in sharing power (Kamat,
2002; Weiler, 1989). A second rationale appropriates the language of efficiency and cost-
effectiveness, especially given cross-community diversity (Bray, 1999; Carnoy, 1999; Weiler, 1989). A
third rationale, though sometimes left implicit, is to reduce the central government’s and increase
local groups’ financial responsibility for schooling provision (Bray, 1999; Carnoy, 1999). In addition,
Weiler (1989) also highlights two other rationales: “
conflict management
[that is,]… allowing the state
to isolate and localize sources of conflict” and “
compensatory legitimation
, [that is,]… central state
elites seek to reduce questions of their legitimacy to govern through decentralization rhetoric and,
perhaps, action” (pp. 17, 19; emphasis added).
Community Participation
Although the decentralization and community participation discourses are often linked, it is
important to treat them separately at least for conceptual purposes. This is because different
centralized systems can involve higher or lower levels of community participation, and any of the
above-discussed forms of decentralization can engender different extents of community
participation. Proponents of parental and broader community participation in education (including
nongovernmental organization [NGO] representatives and business owners) posit that such
“democratic” involvement will make schooling more responsive and relevant to the needs of citizens
4
It is important to note that at least some of the rationales—e.g., efficiency—may be used to promote
either centralization (“that operations can be directed more efficiently by a small group of central planners
without cumbersome duplication of functions in parallel or subnational bodies”) or decentralization
(“that
specialist parallel bodies are better able to focus on the needs of clients and that territorially decentralized
subnational units are closer to the clients and are better able to cater for local diversity”) (Bray, 1999, p. 210).
Education Policy Analysis Archives Vol. 18 No. 5
6
and clients
5
and increase moral/political and, especially important, financial support for schools (e.g.,
see Bray 2001; Fantini, 1968; Lopate Flaxman, Dynum, & Gordon, 1970; Prior, 2005). As Schubert
and Israel (2000) conclude, “[p]arents and community members need to be involved at many
different levels of the education process—as transmitters of democratic values in their homes and
communities, as resource providers to local schools, as participants in school management, and as
knowledgeable advocates for education reform” (p. 7).
However, besides democracy and financial or moral support rationales for promoting
community participation, there may be a compensatory legitimation rationale (as noted for
decentralization—see above). For instance, based on his analysis of official support for parental
participation in education in England and Wales, France, and the German Federal Republic in the
1970s, Beattie (1978) concludes that endorsements for parental or community participation may
reflect an “underlying crisis in democratic institutions” that creates a “need experienced in different
ways by Western democracies to legitimize the status quo by defining certain areas within which
‘democratic participation’ can occur” (p. 42). Finally, as in the case for opponents of
decentralization, those who do not advocate increasing community participation raise concerns
about the limited knowledge or skill, experience, and commitment to broader interests among
parents, civil society associations, and businesses (see DeJong, Jawad, Mortagy, & Shepard, 2005).
Case Study of Reforming Educational Governance and Management
Egypt is one of the nine most populous countries in the world and is of “strategic
importance” geopolitically, occupying a “central [role] in determining the stability of the Middle East
and southern Mediterranean area” (Sayed, 2005, p. 67). Egypt's putatively modern and secular
system of education dates back to the early 19th century, when it was established by Mohahmed Ali
Pasha, an Albanian general sent by the Ottoman Empire to defeat of Napoleon’s army and end
France’s brief occupation of Egypt (1798–1801).
The Egyptian educational system is one of the largest in the world, with approximately
40,000 schools, 800,000 teachers, and 15.5 million students (MOE, 2006a; UNESCO, 2006). Its total
public expenditure for education in the 2006–2007 budget was approximately LE 27.4 billion,
comparable to the 5% average for Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development
countries and higher than the 4% average of lower middle income and Middle East and North
Africa region countries (MOE 2006a). Additionally, according to MOE (2006a), Egypt has made
significant progress in providing universal access to primary education (NER of 95.4% in 2005),
reaching gender parity (0.96 in 2005), and improving primary completion rates (94.6% in 2005).
We organize our case study of reforming educational governance and management into four
time periods: 1981–1990, 1990–1996, 1996–2002, and 2002–2007.
6
During each period we will seek
to illuminate technical, political, and institutional dimensions at the national level, the role of
international intergovernmental and nongovernmental organizations, as well as economic,
political/military, and cultural dynamics at the global level.
5
Of course, not all forms of involvement are equally likely to translate citizen needs and wants into
educational policy and practice. For instance, Arnstein (1970) distinguishes eight different levels of
participation in terms of the degree of influence that participants may have.
6
Though somewhat arbitrary, these time periods help us to highlight the somewhat different contexts,
dynamics, and initiatives that have been witnessed during the presidency of Mohamed Hosni Mubarak (1981-
present).
Reforming Educational Governance and Management in Egypt
7
Initial Mubarak Years, 1981–1990
Mohamed Hosni Mubarak became the President of Egypt following the assassination of
Anwar Sadat on 6 October 1981 by a member of a radical Islamist group.
7
Mubarak continued his
predecessor’s policies of imports, infrastructure development, and military expenditures. The
Mubarak government also focused on reforming the management and governance of the
educational system. In 1981, the legislature passed Law 139, which includes as one of its goals
“deepening the roots of democracy” (Cochran, 1986 p. 78) and states that “governorates are
“responsible for implementing and monitoring the Ministry strategies;” “managing schools… in
context of the National Education Plan and relevant allocated resources; and “capitalizing on
community input through the authorization of an education account that would support the
education process” (quoted in UNESCO, 2006, p. 12).
8
While promoting a degree of
decentralization to the governorate level, the Law assigned the central MOE responsibility and
authority for “undertaking planning, follow-up, evaluation, development and provision of
educational materials,… determining standards and qualifications for teachers,… developing
curricula,… deciding budgets for [governorate-level] educational directorates, determining salaries
and incentives for teachers and administrators, [and] deciding on training needs and programs” (El
Baradei & El Baradei, 2004, p. 13). Note that this cautious, partial move toward decentralizing (i.e.,
limited deconcentration) of educational decision making occurred in the context of publications of
the World Bank during the early 1980s that “advocated a decrease in the amount of government
involvement in the educational process, an increase in the private sector’s role, and greater
application of market principles to the organization of Third World educational systems” (Berman,
1992, p. 69).
However, the Mubarak government operated on the assumption that it could not make
“significant progress [in implementing its educational reform plan] without substantial foreign
investment” (Cochran, 1986 p. 78). In this regard, the Government of Egypt negotiated with
USAID/Egypt to receive a Basic Education Grant, beginning in 1981, “to expand and improve the
efficiency of Egypt’s primary education program… [through] three aspects: planning assistance to
the MOE, purchase of instructional materials, and classroom construction” (USAID/Egypt, 1981,
p. 1; see also Creative Associates, 1984, p. 1). Note, however, that this grant program was mainly to
be implemented in relation to central institutional partners. In fact, “USAID/W[ashington]… asked
whether project finances funneled through the National Investment Bank in Cairo is consistent with
the Mission's support for decentralization.… [And the USAID Mission in Egypt explained that the
central] MOE has veto power [over] all decisions as regards school locations, size and types…,
7
Ironically, Sadat was assassinated by a member of one of the Islamist groups (
al
-
Jama’at al-Islamiyya
)
which Sadat help to spawn from the Muslim Brotherhood in an effort to weaken Nasserist and other Leftist
groups in Egypt. The Muslim Brotherhood (
al-Ikhwan al-Muslimun
) was
founded by a school teacher,
Hasan al-Banna, in 1928 during Egypt’s period of “semi-independence” from Britain (Cochran, 1986; Erlich,
1989). The Brotherhood grew into a militant mass movement focused primarily on ridding Egypt of British
colonialism (Ibrahim, 1987; Voll 1994), but also had the goal “to purify Islam and build a political order
firmly on the precepts of the Koran” (Williamson, 1987, p. 110).
8
Additional legal support for moving some responsibilities for education to the governorate level is
provided by the 1979 Local Administration Law No. 43, which states that: “the Governor is responsible for
administering all activities related to the public sector within his governorate” and also “specif[ies] the
responsibilities for local construction and furnishing of schools, and their administration” (UNESCO, 2006,
pp. 12–13).
Education Policy Analysis Archives Vol. 18 No. 5
8
[although] contracting and contractor payments lie in the governorates with the Local Councils,
Education Zones and Housing Departments” (USAID/Egypt, 1981, p. 41).
For instance, after USAID/Egypt and Egypt government officials initially attended to school
construction and purchasing furnishings and instructional materials, a “decision was made to set up
a three-year, host-country, time-and-effort contract through the [central] Ministry of Education for
the provision of technical assistance in support of the Basic Education Program; and in
the spring of
1983, the Academy for Educational Development (AED) was awarded the contract to “provide a
pool of qua1ified Egyptian education experts" (Creative Associates, 1984, p. 36). According to the
Project Paper
(USAID/Egypt 1981), “the objective of project-financed technical assistance is to
[help] MOE decision-makers establish an empirical basis for setting policy or choosing among
alternate programs in areas of concern to [central] MOE administrators… [for example,] curriculum
development, teacher preparation, educational planning, and cost analysis” (p. 2).
Although the Second Amendment of the Basic Education Project signed by the Ministry of
Education and USAID/Egypt in 1986 refers to establishing model schools for enhancing teacher
training activities but also involving increased parental participation (USAID/Egypt, 1986, it is not
clear that this decentralized, lighthouse reform strategy was pursued. USAID/Egypt, though,
definitely supported initiatives in the central MOE, including establishing in the late-1980s and early-
1990s the Center for Curriculum and Instructional Materials Development, the Educational
Planning and Information Division, and the National Center for Educational Evaluation and
Examinations (Creative Associates, 1991, pp. ix, 19, 29). The context for these initiatives was
Egypt’s “new and comprehensive reform that was initiated during a new five-year plan (1987–
1988/1991–1992) [a]fter a series of high-level consultations, conferences, and external technical
assistance” (Sorour, 1989, quoted in Jarrar & Massialas, 1992, p. 156).
9
In reflecting on one of the
priorities of the reform, “democratization of education,” Ahmed Fathy Sorour (1997), the Minister
of Education from 1986 to 1990, signals that during this period there was a commitment, albeit
cautious and somewhat limited, to decentralization (without community participation):
“Democracy… must be ensured… through decentralization in its broad and healthy practices
(decentralization does not mean simply moving authority from the Ministry to the local education
board). More freedom and opportunity for appropriate decision making ought to be given to
schools, principals, teachers, [and] students’ associations. This responsibility should be associated
with accountability” (p. 643).
Undoubtedly, one of several factors contributing to the Egyptian government’s cautionary
approach to decentralization and community participation during this period was its continuing
conflict and competition with some radical Islamist groups. For example, some of the groups which
developed out of
al
-
Jama’at al-Islamiyya
(literally, the Islamic Groups),
which Sadat helped to
create out of the Muslim Brotherhood to confront Leftists groups in universities and unions, were
viewed to be responsible for a wave of attacks in the 1980s and 1990s directed especially at Egyptian
government officials (Ibrahim, 1987; Tschirgi, 1999). Moreover, some of the Islamist groups
pursued nonviolent strategies which competed with the governing party—building a political base by
providing local social services to meet the needs of citizens that were not always met by government
institutions.
9
Sorour’s (1997) description of the participants in local conferences indicates that they did not involve
civil society representatives, but “senior officials and teachers representing all levels and all types of education
in the governorate” (p. 639); similarly, national conference attendees included “the Egyptian President,…
leaders of political parties, former ministers of education, teachers’ syndicates, the Supreme council of
Universities, and senior officials of the Ministry of education and teacher-training colleges” (p. 640).
Reforming Educational Governance and Management in Egypt
9
Another indication of the Egyptian government’s limited commitment to decentralization is
that “Law No. 233/1988, which amended Basic Education Act 139/1981,… stipulates that…
promotion from one cycle to the other [i.e., primary to preparatory and preparatory to secondary]
should be regulated through an examination at the
governorate level” (Jarrar & Massialas, 1992, p.
156). This modest move toward decentralization, however, was not complemented by a companion
move to decentralize authority for the
Thanawyia Amma
—the high-stakes, secondary school-
leaving exam which as of late 2009 remained under central government control (interview, Jerry
Wood, January 9, 2008). According to a 1996 Ministry of Education publication,
To reconsider the status of the
Thanawyia Amma
or to suggest amending it
implied going through a systematic legal and political process which would ensure
implementation of any proposed changes.… Thus [for] Law No. 139 (1981)… to
be amended… [t]he proposed amendments… [would have to be] presented to
the State Council,… the Service Committee of the Shura Council, the Education
Committee of the People’s Assembly, the Teacher’s Syndicate, the Education
Committee of the National Democratic Party… [Only then would] the… Service
Committee and the Cabinet consider the amendments…and [possibly] forward
them to the People’s Assembly to formally amend the Education Law… [which,
finally, would have to be] ratified by the President.” (MOE, 1996, p. 80).
Reforming Educational Governance and Management, 1990–1996
International and domestic developments during 1990 and 1991 shaped efforts reform
education in Egypt. These include Egypt’s foreign debt increasing dramatically during the 1980s,
being at a historically high level in 1990 before the Gulf War (Amin, 1995, pp. 13–17; see also
Jackson, 1982); Egypt’s playing a key role in securing Arab country support for the U.S.-led war on
Iraq; Egypt accepting the “bitter pill” (interview, Jerry Wood, January 9, 2008), a structural
adjustment program (with conditionalities) in conjunction with loan support from the International
Monetary Fund, the World Bank, and other sources;
10
Egypt witnessing a major public debate
regarding the appropriateness of USAID/Egypt’s role in supporting the development of the Center
for Curriculum and Instructional Materials Development (CCIMD);
11
and the Egyptian state
continuing to experience conflict (sometimes violent and lethal) with and competition from certain
radical Islamist groups.
12
Another important event contextualizing Egypt’s educational reform initiatives in the 1990s
was the World Conference on Education for All, which took place in Jomtien, Thailand, in March
10
At least in part because of the role it played during the Gulf War, rallying support of Arab countries in
the U.S.-led war against Iraq, Egypt received debt forgiveness from Gulf countries, the U.S., and international
agencies (Amin, 1995). However, particularly the latter funding was conditioned upon implementing an
"Economic Reform and Structural Adjustment Program", which greatly reduced Egypt’s flexibility to fund
social programs, including education (El Baradei & El Baradei, 2004, p. 46).
11
Sayed (2006) reports that the “main allegations have been that the CCIMD is a tool used by USAID to
mislead Egyptian children on the Palestinian issue and influence their religious position on specific questions
relevant to the Arab-Israeli conflict.… The CCIMD is referred to by many influential writers as the invisible
hand of the USAID that aims at muddying Egyptian national identity in the minds of new generations”
(p. 109).
12
“Militant fundamentalists began their campaign against the Egyptian tourist industry in 1992… In that
same year,… [they] organized a militant sedition in Imbaba [a poor slum area in Cairo,] proclaiming it the
Imbaba Republic
!’… The sedition was soon terminated by a forceful intervention of state security forces
composed of ten thousand police officers” (Sayed, 2006, p. 31).
Education Policy Analysis Archives Vol. 18 No. 5
10
1990. This gathering was sponsored by UNESCO, UNICEF, UNDP, and the World Bank, and
attendees included representatives from most countries, including Egypt. The Declaration adopted
by those attending the conference called for an "expanded vision" and a “renewed commitment” to
meeting the "basic learning needs" of all (Inter-Agency Commission, 1990, p. 3). In relation to issues of
management and governance, Article 7 of the Declaration highlights “strengthening partnerships:”
National, regional, and local educational authorities… cannot be expected to
supply every human, financial or organizational requirement… New and
revitalized partnerships… will be necessary:… between education and other
government departments…; between government and nongovernmental
organizations, the private sector, local communities, religious groups, and
families.… Genuine partnerships contribute to the planning, implementing,
managing and evaluating of basic education programmes. (p. 13)
We also note the publication of two significant World Bank research-based reports in the
early 1990s that promoted decentralization and community participation. Like other Work Bank
research, these reports likely had wide readership among and considerable influence on national
and international educational policy makers, including those in Egypt (e.g., see Berman, 1992, p.
60). The first report subtitled
Improving the Quality of Education in Developing Countries
concluded that “high outcome programs were found to have four features in common: (i)
strengthening of the administrative capacity at the school and district level; (ii) development of
effective policy, planning and supporting institutions at the central level; (iii) special attention to
innovation management; and (iv) establishment of effective mechanisms for feedback”
(Verspoor, 1989, p. 7). The editors of the second report titled
Effective Schools in Developing
Countries
conclude that “[c]ommunity involvement is central to effective schools [because] the
community may increase the school’s resources by providing in-kind contributions and by
participating in school activities.… [Also,] schools are more effective when they choreograph
their own activities (within a framework of a larger effective schools program) instead of being
expected merely to follow a formula or script sent down from higher levels” (Lockheed and
Levin, 1991, pp. 11–12).
In this context, in his November 1991 address to a joint session of Egypt’s legislatures,
President Hosni Mubarak proclaimed, “We must admit that the [existence of a] crisis in
education,… [which] continues to suffer from a predominant focus on quantity rather than quality”
(Mubarak, 1991).
13
And the booklet
Mubarak and Education
produced by the Ministry of
Education under the newly appointed Minister, Hussein Kamel Bahaa El Din,
14
and for which
Mubarak’s address serves as an introduction, clarifies the meaning of the crisis in education, linking
13
Mubarak’s statement in 1991 parallels one published 5 years earlier by the World Bank: “Twenty years
ago the issue of
quality
in education was regarded as delicate and politically sensitive” and, partly because of
this, “previously most educational loans from the World Bank were directed at expanding educational systems
by building more schools, hiring more teachers, and providing access for more students” (Heyneman, 1986,
p. 3). And in the same World Bank publication, Beeby (1986), who in 1966 published an influential volume,
The Quality of Education in Developing Countries
, offers a similar assessment:
“Although the questions
of access predominated in the 1960s, the emphasis shifted to
quality issues
in the 1970s” (p. 37).
14
“Baha Eddin, a pediatrician and former secretary general of the Nasser-era ideological watchdog group
the Youth Organization (
Munazamat as-Shabab
), became Minister in 1991… [a few months after Minister
Ahmed] Fathy Sorour was abruptly transferred to the position of Speaker of the People’s Assembly, replacing
Rifaat al-Mahjoub, who was slain in Cairo by members of a militant Islamic group” (Herrera, 2006b, p. 28).
Reforming Educational Governance and Management in Egypt
11
it to national security:
15
“Egypt, during the past thirty years or so has… [confronted military,] social
and economic challenges… These struggles took place at the expense of the service sector.… The
only solution for this problem is to redefine education from a service-sector activity to [an
investment
16
needed to address] a crisis that fundamentally threatens the national security of Egypt”
(MOE, 1992, p. 26).
17
In this document national security was defined as “the abilities, systems and
procedures which guarantee the protection of a country from any predicted or unpredicted dangers
that might threaten its… stability, standard of living, independence and decision-making autonomy”
(MOE, 1992, p. 24), includes three dimensions: military, economic, and political. So, education is
characterized as “enabling our soldiers [in the 1973 War with Israel] to master the skills necessary for
using high technology weaponry” (p. 37); helping to achieve for Egypt “an appropriate place
[economically]… on the global map” (p. 37); and contributing to “democracy and internal peace” by
enabling students “to think and analyze, thus protect[ing] them from brain washing attempts, and
from the claims of terrorists and extremist fanatics” (Bahaa El Dinn, 1997a, pp. 91–92).
Although “concepts of participation, ownership, and the empowerment of local
communities and civil society associations,… materialized into development assistance and soft loan
policies by the beginning of the 1990s [and]… decentralization became a major condition for
achieving success in the development programs” (Sayed, 2006, pp. 123
124), the 1992
Mubarak and
Education
volume does not address issues of (de)centralized governance and management of
education, except for one brief statement related to school construction: “[L]ocal authorities must
continue to play the main role in school maintenance and rehabilitation. [The central government’s
General Authority for Education Buildings] should serve the local authorities in this respect by
providing blueprints, designs and engineering expertise for all required operations” (MOE, 1992, p.
45).
18
This limited attention to decentralization and community participation occurs despite Jarrar
and Massialas’ (1992) assessment during this period that the Egyptian education “system is plagued
with obsolete administrative and management procedures. Centralization is still a fact in spite of
attempts at decentralization.… Duplication of effort is common, and communication between and
among the different levels, sectors, and departments is weak” (p. 165). Furthermore, Sayed (2006)
argues that during this period “the state encourage[d] participation only on the ceremonial level,… a
form of ‘confined participation’ that invites stakeholders to confer over the issues without granting
15
In point of fact, “basic education in Egypt has been referred to as a matter of ‘national security
in
[almost] every… presidential speech, ministerial press release, and official governmental statement addressing
the topic since the beginning of the 1990s” (Sayed, 2006, p. 27), including the third five-year plan (1992/93–
1996/97) (MOE, 1991, p. 5; quoted in Zaalouk, 2004, p. 177); a Mubarak speech in 1993 (Mubarak, 1993;
quoted in MOE, 1996, p. 8); the 1999 volume of
Mubarak and Education
(MOE, 1999, p. 8; quoted in
Sayed, 2005, p. 69); and a Mubark speech in 2007 (Mubarak, 2007).
16
As the Ministry of Education document explains a few years later, its discourse of “education as an
investment and not a social expenditure” helped to prioritize education expenditures in a context in which
public spending on social programs were “subject to fiscal cuts dictated by the structural adjustment
programs devised by the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank” (MOE, 1997, quoted in Sayed,
2006, p. 56).
17
As Sayed (1995) observes, “to declare an issue a part of national security is to place it at the top of the
political agenda, that is, beyond the ordinary rules of the political game,… and to allocate high capital and
human resources to it” (p. 69).
18
See the similar statement above by USAID/Egypt (1981) regarding about the roles of local and
national governments in relation to school construction.
Education Policy Analysis Archives Vol. 18 No. 5
12
them an effective voice, and solicits the social and material participation and contribution, provided
their contribution supports the status quo” (p. 150).
19
Whether representing an example of real or “ceremonial/confined” participation, Sayed
(2006) reports that some members of “civil society associations and interest groups concerned with
the education process,… were invited to attend the [national] MOE conferences… [on] primary and
preparatory education reforms in 1993 and 1994,” respectively (p. 136). Below is a detailed outline of
the process leading up to and following the conferences—a process described as one “that opened
up the dialogue to various stakeholders” (Sidhom & Al-Fustat, 2004, p. 14) and as “a nation-wide
consultation:”
Mobilizing support for reforming Egypt’s primary and preparatory education…
[involved] a preliminary study by the National Center for Educational Research
and Development… The results of the research were initially shared a workshop
of Ministry of Education officials, members from the Teacher’s Syndicate, and
parents of students. Conclusions from the workshop were subsequently
presented to a larger audience at the [1993]
National Conference for Developing
Primary Education
and the [1994]
National Conference for Developing Preparatory
Education
.… Resolutions from the national conferences were then presented to
the Supreme Council for Pre-University Education… In addition, different
committees within the Ministr
y
reconsidered the recommendations and evaluated
them in context of their experience and expertise. A comprehensive synthesis of
all these deliberations was presented to a special committee, which included
public figures, experts from various fields and disciplines.… The resolutions were
then presented for a second time to the Pre-University Education [Council] and
then to the Minister of Education, who issued executive decisions… in light of
the Council’s recommendations. While this was taking place, the media was
covering the various deliberations and decisions and providing the public with…
information regarding the potential changes. (Zaalouk, 2004, pp. 179
–1
80)
Regardless of how valid such participation was, it constituted a centralized form of
involvement. According to a former Director of USAID/Egypt’s Education & Workforce
Development division (1995–2001): “It didn’t really make its way down.… [because] the people
who came to the conference either didn’t have the where-with-all or the interest in going back
to make those changes” (interview, Sally Patton, June 18, 2008).
It was in this context that in 1992, UNICEF began a “Community Schools” project “in four
hamlets in the southern governorate of Assiyut in Egypt.
… The contract signed [with the MOE]
stipulated that the UNICEF education section would design, develop, and coordinate a community
school model in deprived hamlets of rural upper Egypt, while the MOE… would ensure that the
initiative was sustainable, able to expand, and be adopted by the wider educational system” (Zaalouk,
19
In its 1992 publication
Strategy for Educational Systems Development
, USAID/Washington (1992)
states that “education decision-making [should] be decentralized, and involve not only governments but also
civil society representation (e.g., the business community, NGOs, unions and religious organizations,
community associations and research networks, parents, professionals, students). Decentralizing education
decision-making, intervention monitoring, and evaluation process is critical for educational reform… [to
meet] the needs and conditions of the communities they serve” (p. 14).
Reforming Educational Governance and Management in Egypt
13
2004, p. xi).
20
Community participation was one of the foci for this project. According to
interviewees, the Community Schools project “was a great model for… engaging the community to
the maximum extent in the education of the children” (interview, Hala El Serafy , February 18,
2008) and gave “Egypt a… model to engage the local community to provide… what is needed…
[and to encourage] people… [to] become much more involved in the education for their children”
(interview, Hassan El Bilawi, February 15, 2008). According to one of its leaders, the Community
Schools pilot project was in line with the Declaration of the World Conference on Education for All
(Interagency Commission, 1990), because schooling “requires a wide range of partnerships,
[including]… communities, parents and families, governmental and non-governmental
organizations, other institutions, and the private sector” (Zaalouk, 2004, p. 18). For instance, the
project’s “Education Committees… play[ed] an important role in the management of schools and
mobilizing local human and financial resources as well as locating school sites, identifying potential
facilitators, screening pupils, assisting in solving school-related problems. … [The] 10–15
community members include[ed] parents, formal and/or informal leaders and project supporters”
(Sidhom & Al-Fastat, 2004, p. 24). Perhaps inspired by the level of community involvement and
other promises of the Community Schools project and by international discourses, such as those
represented in the Declaration of the World Conference on Education For All (Inter-Agency
Commission, 1990), Egypt’s Ministry of Education in 1993 initiated a One Classroom School
Project “to provide a multigrade, student-centered educational experience for girls throughout the
country… start[ing] with 313 schools in l993/1994 and… expand[ing to] 2791 schools in
2002/2003” (Sidhom and Al-Fastat, 2004, p. 30).
21
While a commitment to “democracy” and an interest in obtaining community resources
encouraged the Egyptian Ministry of Education to at least experiment with increased community
participation and with decentralizing some responsibility (if not authority), there were other factors
that limited the degree of decentralization and community participation. One often-mentioned
factor was the perception that local actors did not have sufficient competence. For instance, a
former Minister of Education (1991–2004) explained:
It is very easy to say that we are going to decentralize, but we have to see what
are the historical experiences in this region, what has succeeded and what has
failed.… [I]f we look at Egypt, by transferring power to governors, who is going
to have this power and the members of the parliament in that governorate.…
And if you are delegating power to an inefficient partner, the quality will go
down.… You have to train [them], you have to empower [them], you have to give
[them] the credentials to do that… And this has to take time and this has to be
part of a general reform of… other aspects as well. (interview, Hussein Kamal
Bahaa El Din, February 16, 2008)
20
The project eventually operated in three governorates (Qena and Sohag as well as Assiyut), involving
increasing numbers of schools and students and, therefore, parents and community members during its
different phases: a pilot phase (1992–1994) involved 39 schools and 1037 students, a development phase
(1995–1996) involved 111 schools and 2859 students, and an expansion phase (1997–1999) involved 202
schools and 4659 students (Zaalouk, 2004, pp. 91–95).
21
Zaalouk (2004) acknowledges that the “model in Egypt was established during the period following the
[1990] Jomtien Education for All
(EFA) world conference” (p. 31) and Sidhom and Al-Fustat (2004) note,
similarly, in their evaluation report that “Egypt’s commitment to Education Reform also took into
consideration its international commitments such as those made at the
l990 Jomtien
Declaration
(pp. 13–
14).
Education Policy Analysis Archives Vol. 18 No. 5
14
However, another factor—national security concerns, especially in relation to the
(sometimes violent) struggle by radical Islamist groups against the state—certainly constrained
central government officials’ enthusiasm (i.e., political will) for promoting increased
decentralization and local community participation.
22
As an American who served in
USAID/Egypt in the 1990s put it, “decentralization in many of the policies couldn’t happen
without touching that issue” of the radical Islamist groups (interview, Sally Patton, June 18,
2008).
And according to Sayed (2006), “the [Egyptian] state approached democratization with
prudence, maintaining that the Egyptian population is not yet ready to take on board a
comprehensive democracy, particularly since national security and political stability are
‘endangered’ by… terrorist movements and external conspiracies” (p. 79). In the words of an
Egyptian staff member at USAID/Egypt: “[T]here was always this orientation to never
empower the community and never empower parents… And he [the Minister of Education]
would say, ‘How can I make sure that the board of trustees doesn’t get hijacked by the [radical
Islamists]?’… He was always saying that ‘I am the one who fought terrorism. I am the one who
fought the [violent and non-violent radical Islamist]. I stuck my neck out’” (interview, Mona
Zirki, February 17, 2008). And Sayed (2006) argues that “contain[ing] and block[ing] the
penetration of [radical] Islamists… in the… educational system… [was] achieved by fastening
the central grip of the MOE on the educational system and exercising more control on
horizontal and vertical levels” (p. 83). Moreover, the Minister of Education during this period,
who an Egyptian colleague called “a fighter and very active,”
23
recounted:
The first [issue that I confronted as Minister] was that… [nonviolent radical
Islamists]… had taken the lead in most of the schools in Egypt and were setting
the agenda of the educational curriculum. They banned whatever they thought
was against their religious ideas. And they propagated books and topics which are
outside the official curriculum.… Therefore, I took very open and drastic
measures to curtail their activities. I began transferring those teachers, involved in
political activities directed to this [nonviolent radical Islamist] movement, outside
of schools… I cut their contact with students.… The silent majority applauded
me very highly, because they were afraid to confront these people. (interview,
Hussein Kamal Bahaa El Din, February 16, 2008)
22
Sayed (2006) explains that national security concerns historically have led to limited civil society
participation: “Many of the conditions for the operation of active civil society groups, associations, and
organizations were missing from the Egyptian political scene of the past decade. Even though civil society
associations in Egypt have a
history that goes back to the late nineteenth century, years of totalitarian rule
and institutional (legislative and administrative) impediments have eroded a civic culture that began to
flourish within Egyptian society during the first half of the twentieth century. Ever since the 1952 revolution
and the republican decrees abolishing political parties and civil society associations through the 1950s and
1960s, Egyptians have been passive actors in the nation’s political life and their lives (education, career
selection, economic activities, and social mobility) have been controlled by a paternalistic and authoritarian
state whose head of state has often described himself as the father of the nation” (pp. 127–128).
23
Interview with Hassan El Bilawi, First Undersecretary (2000–2005) and Special Advisor (2006-present)
in the Ministry of Education, February 10 & 15, 2008. During this interview El Bilawi explained: “The
Muslim Brotherhood [in the 1990s]… concentrated on education because education for them is about
preparing for the future, and that’s fine. And… the Minister of Education represented the state. And the state
at that time was not for the Muslim Brotherhood, it was secular to some extent” (February 10).
Reforming Educational Governance and Management in Egypt
15
Sayed (2006) discusses the Ministry’s removal of “schoolteachers advocating religious
fundamentalism from their teaching jobs and transferred them to administrative jobs” (p. 35),
while Herrera (2006b) reports that the Minister viewed “schools and universities [as] slipping
dangerously out of the state’s control and into the hands of [radical] Islamists…, thereby posing
a threat to the country’s national security” (p. 29). Thus, the Egyptian government undertook “a
series of sweeps and purges… target[ing] religious and political materials, and educators who
attempted to influence children towards greater religiosity through tactics of coercion and fear”
(Herrera, 2006b, p. 32).
Another example of central government intervention in local school-communities’
autonomy, which related to activity by radical Islamists groups, involved “Ministerial Order 113 of
1994, on the Unification of School Uniforms, which forbids girls in primary school from covering
their hair and requires that girls in the preparatory stage, who wear a head scarf, provide written
permission from a guardian, thereby giving parents, rather than [local] school authorities, the right to
decide what their daughters should wear… The Order [also] prohibits the
niqab
, the full face veil, at
all educational levels” (Herrera, 2006b, p. 42).
24
This government action was motivated by the fact
that “schoolgirls—often as early as first grade—were increasingly required, by [radical Islamist]
teachers and school administrators, to wear an Islamic uniform (
al-ziyy al-Islami
), which included a
head covering of some sort” (Herrera, 2006b, p. 42).
25
Although the Ministry of Education explained
that the Ministerial Order was developed because it had received “scores of complaints from around
the country to the effect that Islamic uniforms were being imposed on girls,… [many] ordinary
Egyptians… [expressed] their feelings of injustice and helplessness in the face of a heavy-handed
state that intruded into their private lives” (Herrera, 2006b, p. 42).
26
At the same time there were concerns about limiting the agenda of radical Islamist groups,
the Ministry of Education and the Egyptian government more generally faced a growing fiscal crisis,
which encouraged efforts to mobilize fiscal and material resources from local communities. As
noted by the Ministry of Education in 1996 (MOE, 1996):
Reconsideration of investment and its linkage to human resource development
has also implied assessment of
funding sources
. While the government has
reconsidered this priority,… [there is a need] to expand the role of parents and
communities on the school level in addition to inviting business, NGOs, parents,
other government ministries, different political parties, etc. to forums. (pp. 24–
25; emphasis added)
Because of the increasing need to attract local resources in support of education and
other social services, there was “an attempt to open up the public education system and allow
greater participation.… provid[ing] some new spaces for partnerships. [For instance,]
Ministerial
Decree No. 5 of 1993
[regarding Parent Teacher Councils] allows parents to monitor educational
24
However, although “the uniform legislation triggered… a spate of lawsuits,… in a 1996 appeal that
reached the Supreme Constitutional Court—Egypt’s highest court—Ministerial Order 113 of 1994 was ruled
constitutional
” (Herrera, 2006b, p. 43).
25
According to Herrera (2006b), “[f]rom a legal perspective, educators were not violating government
policy because the regulations guiding school uniforms—Ministerial Order #70 of 1962 and #139 of 1981—
did not explicitly forbid Islamic uniforms” (p. 42).
26
“In a campaign to gain public support for his highly controversial uniform policy, Baha Eddin… rallied
the support of strategic religious figures, including the Grand Mufti and Shaykh of al-Azhar, Muhammad
Sayed Tantawi, who issued a
fatwa
(religious ruling) stating that the
niqab
is not a requirement of Islam”
(Herrera, 2006a, p. 43).
Education Policy Analysis Archives Vol. 18 No. 5
16
quality, to make donations of money or equipment to schools, and to manage aspects of the
educational process to ensure ‘a democratic climate inside schools’” (National Center for
Education Research and Development [NCERD], 2001, p. 20; quoted in Herrera, 2006a, p.
155).
27
Furthermore, one of the major goals of a major reform initiative funded by the European
Union and the World Bank beginning in 1996, the Education Enhancement Program, was “to
significantly increase students' achievement of basic skills and help improve their critical
thinking skills… [in part] through… building the capacity of the main implementing agencies at
the central and governorate levels… [in] sector planning, decision making and management”
(World Bank, 1996a, p. 2; see also World Bank, 1996b). Moreover, the Education Enhancement
Program’s activities were based on the assumption that “there was a need for developing a
community sense of ownership of the school, and a conviction of the need for education, and
for parents to send their children to learn. [Thus, the project]… organiz[ed] intensive awareness
and community mobilization campaigns… rel[ying] on local women groups,…clergymen—
imams in mosques and priests in churches, [as well as]… established networks with community
development associations (CDAs)… [and] NGOs” (El Baradei & El Baradei, 2004, pp. 63–64).
Interviewees expressed somewhat different views of the extent of decentralization and
community participation that was achieved through the Education Enhancement Program (EEP).
For instance, in terms of decentralization, a key Egyptian administrator of the World Bank loan-
based programs stated that “I was working according the decentralization… which means that each
governorate… came up with its own plan. They decided what they have to do and manage
everything by themselves. We were only working as an umbrella in Cairo” (interview, Nadia Gamal
El Din, May 4, 2008). In contrast, an Egyptian Ministry of Education official noted that “it was a
centralized approach… [in part] because [the Minister] at that time… was for the nation… and he
was very strong in controlling and managing what was going on” (interview, Hassan El Bilawi,
February 15, 2008). With respect to community participation, the Egyptian administrator overseeing
EEP’s implementation until 2004 explained:
Part of our whole work was community participation. And… we let the people
set up meetings to ask the community to come and help, to given money and
land. We… got many pieces of land, and with this land we built schools.… Yes,
when we invite them, they came [to parent and teacher councils].… And I
remember that [an NGO]… conference was in August, and… they came. We
were trying to count how many NGOs and we collected about 2000 in our ten
governorates, a huge number. (interview, Nadia Gamal El Din, May 4, 2008)
In contrast, an Egyptian who served on the staff at USAID and then the World Bank in
Cairo suggested that there was “not so much” community participation in EEP because
“unfortunately the World Bank projects are more focused on what the Government would like
to see… more on training than technical assistance. What happened in EEP, there was an add-
on component to involve community to try toward decreasing the number of drop-outs. But the
way it happened was very ad hoc” (interview, Mona Zikri, February 17, 2008). And the Egyptian
administrator overseeing EEP’s implementation starting in 2004 observed that “we tried to
encourage some villages by giving them some [things] for their children, through the EEP
27
Sayed (2006) paints a similar picture of the 1990s, except that he suggests that “[p]arents’ councils…
[went] into decline by the end of the 1990s… partly because of the low level of interest from the side of
MOE bureaucrats and school administrators and partly because some parents’ abused of their power”
(p. 135).
Reforming Educational Governance and Management in Egypt
17
project. It was good for two years, but the third year there was no money. So, people stopped
their activities” (interview, Mustafa Abdel Samie , February 8, 2008).
Educational Governance and Management, 1996–2002
According to Sullivan and Abed-Kotob (1999), until the end of the 1990s the Mubarak
government retained the “political structure… [of] an authoritarian, dominant party system
supported by a military and security establishment” (p. 121), justified by the perceived threat to the
government of the violent and nonviolent radical Islamist groups. For instance, in 1996 the Egyptian
government rejected a call for a cease-fire from some leaders of the
Jama’at
al-Islamiyya
and
continued its intensive security approach (Tschirgi, 1999). And then, in November, 1997, members
of the
Jama’at
al-Islamiyya
groups killed 58 foreign tourists and some Egyptians in the city of
Luxor—an attack that had a significant, negative impact on tourism, a major component of the
Egyptian economy. While this tragic event served as a catalyst for the Government of Egypt and the
violent radical Islamists to agree to end the violence, members of the Muslim Brotherhood and
other radical Islamist groups continued to mobilize politically and to provide community-based
social services, thus constituting a challenge to the Mubarak government and the ruling National
Democratic Party.
Even before it negotiated a truce with the violent radical Islamist groups, the Egyptian
government initiated other strategies for dealing with the security threat and political challenges:
The security situation in the first half of the 1990s risked disturbing both the
national and geopolitical balance in the Middle East. Thus, it is no coincidence
that during the
second half
of the 1990s all bilateral donors (USAID, Canadian
International Development Agency, Danish International Development Agency,
and others) and international development agencies working in coordination with
the Egyptian state have directed their development programs [generally] to Upper
Egypt… [as well as] the under-serviced urban slums.… [The aim was to provide]
basic education in the remote and long-forgotten areas that are deemed to be
fountainheads of potential [radical Islamist groups]. The purpose has been to
confront and challenge the [radical Islamists’] grip on peoples’ minds and souls.
(Sayed, 2005, p. 75; emphasis added)
28
Coupled with such efforts to improve services and, thus, being seen as concerned about the life
of the poor living in rural and urban areas, during the 1990s, the Ministry of Education devoted
time and energy to promoting decentralization and involving civil society (Sayed, 2006, p. 132).
There efforts were designed in part to win the “minds and souls” of the populace by promoting
“democratic” principles:
Education Reform and
Democratic Values
:… Successful change will not be
confined to a Minister or a Ministry, but will be a consequence of a national
effort which has mobilized all sectors of society, followed all the legal channels,
included individual feedback at various junctures and reflected the wishes and
hopes of the general public. (Bahaa El Dinn, 1997, pp. 99–101; emphasis added)
28
As Sayed (2006) explains, however, such initiatives required a delicate balancing act: “[I]n pursuing
these objectives, the state ha[d] to appear more profoundly religious and pious than the fundamentalists in
order not to lose its credibility as defender of Egyptian national values and culture. Moreover, the state has
been keen to downplay the significance of the involvement and propensities of [international] donors and
development assistance agencies in order to counter persistent voices advancing conspiracy theories” (p. 83).
Education Policy Analysis Archives Vol. 18 No. 5
18
Of course, it was a little “safer” to involve educators and local communities in
“democratic” processes by the mid-1990s, given that many educators suspected of having ties to
radical Islamist groups had been removed from the schools.
As noted above, multilateral and bilateral develop agencies also promoted an agenda of
winning the “minds and souls” of the population by addressing their service needs and involving
them in defining how such needs would be met. As Sayed (2005) argues, “another important
strategic motive for providing development assistance to Egypt is the American and Western
European desire to contain the [radical] Islami[st]… movements, perceived as a major strategic
threat to the interests of the West in the area” (p. 68). For instance, although in the mid-1990s “the
United States Agency for International Development (USAID) was on the verge of closing down its
education division in Egypt” (Zaalouk, 2004, p. 170) and in other countries in the region,
29
it
eventually developed plans for a
Strategic objective agreement… for girls’ education
(USAID/Egypt,
1996). The goals of this grant, informed by the strategies of the above-described Community
Schools project supported by UNICF and the Canadian International Development Agency
(CIDA), were to “raise community awareness and support for girls' education through (1) the
involvement of nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and community development associations
(CDAs)… and (2) a countrywide initiative to galvanize religious, business and media leaders in
support of girls' education” (USAID/Egypt, 1996, p. 10). However, this grant program was not
implemented.
30
During 1998 and into 1999, while continuing to discuss programmatic arrangements to
obtain needed funds from USAID—eventually leading to the design of the New School Program
(see below), the Egyptian government engaged in negotiations with the European Union and the
World Bank for a major loan-based project, the Secondary Education Enhancement Project.
According to the Project Appraisal Document (World Bank, 1999b), one of the major issues facing
the Egyptian education system is “inefficiencies in service delivery: The education system is highly
centralized, with agencies providing overlapping functions” (p. 4). Given this situation, two
components of the project involved: “strengthening institutional capacity,… [i.e.,] improving local
school management…, while working to develop long term strategies for management reform at the
central level,” and “increasing community and private sector involvement through support for
increased local management responsibilities and support for parent council activities and
public/private sector partnerships… [The latter component was stressed] because although] parent
councils have existed since the 1960s, a recent [1999] decree has widened their scope of
29
Interview with Sally Patton, Director of USAID/Egypt Education & Workforce Development division
(1995–2001), 18 June 2008.
30
A former USAID/Egypt staff member recounted the objections by the Minister of Education to this
program: “The major concern was, the Minister said ‘you are working with the informal system; I don’t care
about it.… My priority is building schools… within the formal system’” (interview, Mona Zikri, February 17,
2008). This story was echoed by two USAID/Egypt staff members: “the Minister… wanted schools to be
built” (Hala El Serafy) and the Minister “didn’t like that USAID… pulled out of a very significant building
program… and [was] looking to get out of education all over the [ANE] region… So, [he]… said ‘finished. I
want everything stopped. And until you show me how we’re going to build schools, I don’t want anything
more to go on’” (Sally Patton). Moreover, during his interview the Minister of Education during the time of
this initiative confirmed that “I thought the building of small schools in rural areas was most effective. And I
told the Americans that it is a pity that you have stopped financing that type of projects. This has been… very
instrumental in raising the educational standards in rural areas” (interview, Hussein Kamal Bahaa El Din,
February 16, 2008).
Reforming Educational Governance and Management in Egypt
19
responsibility to include monitoring quality at the school level” (p. 32).
31
This World Bank project in
Egypt was in line with the World Bank’s vision as articulated in its global Education Sector Strategy
(World Bank, 1999a), which “promote[d] decentralizing management and accountability” (p. x) and
highlighted the need for collaboration:
The job is too large for any one institution or agency alone, and too important
for a single perspective to hold sway. Governments, NGOs and local
stakeholders, with the support of bilateral and multilateral development agencies,
will have to work closely together in a prolonged effort to ensure each country’s
objectives for education are met… Many others have important roles to play too,
including students, parents, families, communities, teachers groups, foundations
and private firms. Local partners, in particular, have the knowledge and the
understanding of values, culture and traditions that are an essential feature of
sustainable development. (World Bank, 1999a, p. viii)
Nevertheless, an Egyptian staff member at USAID indicated that “I don’t think it
[SEEP] supported decentralization at all” (interview, Hala El Sarafy, February 18, 2008).
Despite remaining cautious about decentralization and civil society participation, in 1999, the
Egyptian government “established an NGO Department in the MOE; issued Ministerial Decree
number 30/2000 authorizing NGOs to work in community education” (Sidhom and Al-Fastat,
2004, p. 43; see also El Baradei & El Baradei, 2004, p. 16); and enacted a new NGO Law, which
promoted NGO involvement in education and other sectors, but stipulated that “civil society
associations and organizations are not allowed to engage in any political activism… that advances
the interests of a political party or to participate in election campaigns using NGO officers or funds”
(Sayed, 2006, p. 137).
32
The 1999 law was challenged in the courts and was eventually declared to be
unconstitutional. Thus, in 2002 the Egyptian government passed a revised Law (No. 84), which
erased “[m]any administrative obstacles against the civil society institutions… and the same time
[granted them] many advantages” (National Democratic Party[NDP], 2007, p. 5). According to
Sayed (2006), the 2002 Law gave “NGOs the freedom to raise funds and receive donations locally…
Moreover, instead of forbidding NGOs from receiving funds directly from foreign development
assistance agencies,… [the 2002] law allows them to receive such funds after obtaining the Ministry’s
approval. However, Article 55 of the 2002 law forbids NGOs from joining a network without the
approval of the Ministry of Social Affairs” (Sayed, 2006, p. 137).
31
This “Ministerial Decree… Number 464 of 1998 (regarding Parents’ and Teachers’ Councils) allow[ed]
parents to monitor educational quality, to make donations of money or equipment to schools, and to manage
aspects of the educational process to ensure ‘a democratic climate inside schools’” (NCERD, 2001, p. 20;
quoted in Herrera, 2006a, p. 155).
32
Kandil (2000) comments that during the 1990s, Egyptian and international organizations and agencies
urged “the state… to change the 1964 law that… governed civil society matters and which gave the state full
control, including even the right to dissolve a particular civil society association whenever it felt it appropriate
to do so” (quoted in Sayed, 2006, p. 132). As Sayed (2006) summarizes: “local civil society associations [were]
under the dominion of the Ministry of Social Affairs, which has to approve all their activities and budgets,
and they have to coordinate with Ministry of Education and other local state agencies[, involving] a mass of
bureaucratic hierarchy and red tape that constrains their potential participation as active pressure groups
influencing the agenda-setting process” (p. 134). Relevant also is the fact that in 2000 (as well as 2003 and
2004) the Egyptian government organized “national NGO Conferences focusing on Community
Participation” (UNESCO, 2006, p. 15).
Education Policy Analysis Archives Vol. 18 No. 5
20
Interestingly, the Minister of Education during this time expressed his support for the
involvement education of some, but not all, NGOs:
There were many NGOs which were involved in education, and I was very happy
to be cooperating with them… [Referring to the NGO unit within the Ministry
of Education:] Yes, and for the first time they could come to the Ministry, and I
could see someone helping them… [Based on my readings] that the progress of
the West had depended on nongovernmental agencies,… I have to collaborate
and to activate the nongovernmental organizations… [This also relates to the
issue of violent and nonviolent radical Islamists, in that] instead of having people
working to destroy Egypt, we have people helping me to build Egypt. (interview,
Hussein Kamal Bahaa El Din, February 16, 2008)
Beyond interactions with donor agencies operating in the country, Egypt’s policy
reforms and project initiatives during this period “took into consideration its international
commitments,… [including] the Arab States Forum for Education Ministers, which in January
2000 adopted the
Arab Framework for Action to Ensure Basic Learning Needs in the Arab States
in the years 2000–2010
” (Sidhom & Al-Fustat, 2004, pp. 13–14).
33
In part, this Framework
states: “[T]he major problem in most of Arab States is how to make a good use of available
resources, human as well as financial.… Reports on expenditure show problems in terms of
planning and budgeting.… Problems of centralization versus decentralization
are still debated”
(Arab Countries Declaration, 2000, p. 48). It also identifies as one of seven objectives,
“improving educational governance and management, which entails improving decision-making
processes, accountability systems, building capacities, and extending and strengthening
partnerships in planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation” (p. 51).
The Arab States Forum was one of the regional meetings organized in preparation for the
March 2000 “Education for All” Conference in Dakar, Senegal (UNESCO, 2000). Between the
Forum and the Conference, on February 15, 200, President Mubarak declared that in Egypt the first
decade of the new century would be the “Second Decade for the Protection of the Egyptian Child.”
At the Dakar conference the Egyptian government and others participants declared that “[r]eform
of educational management is urgently needed — to move from highly centralized, standardized and
command-driven forms of management to more decentralized and participatory decision-making,
implementation and monitoring at lower levels of accountability… [Moreover,] civil society… [has]
a crucial role to play in identifying barriers to EFA goals, and developing policies and strategies to
remove them” (UNESCO 2000, p. 18). In addition, participating countries pledged to “define
administrative structures that consider the individual school as the basic unit, with managerial
autonomy, progressively generating mechanisms for citizen participation and establishing levels of
responsibility for each actor in the management process, in the control of results and in
accountability” (UNESCO, 2000, p. 41).
According to the United Nations Development Programme and the Egypt-based Institute of
National Planning (UNDP and INP, 2000), in its
Human Development Report for Egypt
, achieving
this goal would require major changes. The report expresses that a key “condition [of an efficient
education system] is democracy in managing the education system.
Decentralization
and
participation
are the
two pillars of such democracy
. Decentralization provides better opportunities to
33
Another important international commitment ratified by Egypt was the United Nations Millennium
Declaration, which identified “eight Millennium Development Goals,” including “providing universal primary
education… by the target date of 2015” (United Nations, 2000).
Reforming Educational Governance and Management in Egypt
21
identify the real educational needs and preferences of local communities, maintain education
facilities, and monitor the education process. Participation creates a commitment to the success of
the education process, especially when it includes all the partners of this process. Moreover,
participation provides greater opportunity to identify, mobilize, and use education resources
(effective as well as potential) more efficiently” (p. 52; emphasis added). However, the report
concludes that currently in Egypt the “education system is highly centralized… which impedes
initiatives, and also works against the efficient use of resources” (p. 5); “participation is deliberately
limited” (p. 52); and “democracy is interpreted in a technocratic way that is translated into a large
number of consultative and technical councils, the members of which are mainly experts who are
appointed by the MOE… This… limits popular participation, reduces the effectiveness of
representative bodies (like parents’ councils and student unions), weakens local administration, and
strengthens the central administration of the education system” (p. 57).
This UNDP and INP analysis does not seem to accord much significance to the on-going
activities of the UNICEF and CIDA-supported Community Schools project, the MOE’s One
Classroom School Project, and the European Union and World Bank loan-funded Education
Enhancement Project and Secondary Education Enhancement Project (see discussion above). And,
apparently, the authors of this report did not factor in to their assessment two USAID-funded
initiatives, the New Schools Program and the Alexandria Reform Pilot Project, which were being
planned at this time.
One of the goals of the New Schools Program (NSP), funded by USAID/Egypt and
implemented in selected communities in Bani-Suef, Fayoum, and Minia by a consortium led by
CARE (originally 2000–2004, then extended to 2008), was to “increase community participation in
girls' education.” NSP included “an intensive community development model via numerous village
meetings leading to the formation of a Community Education Team[, which] leads the community
through the difficult and lengthy process of obtaining land, forming task forces and supervising
construction.… With the new school nearing completion, Parent Teacher Councils (PTCs) are
elected in large, enthusiastic community gatherings” (Aguirre International, 2003, p. ix; see also
Ministry of International Cooperation [MIC], 2006, p. 8).
34
As explained by an American
administrator in USAID/Egypt during this period, NSP was developed as a program taking into
consideration the Minister of Education’s concerns about the ill-fated Girls Education grant
program (see above discussion): Through CARE’s implementation of NSP, we “could do the
building and then turn the schools over to the Ministry. The Minister liked this.… When we began
working in communities, in very difficult and conservative areas,… that generated interest… And
the people, most of whom didn’t really want to have anything to do with the government, then
began to see that the one of the largest institutions that represented the government in town was
listening to them; [this] was a big step” (interview, Sally Patton, June 18, 2008).
The Alexandria Reform Pilot Project (2001–2004) was designed “to give encouragement,
support and a mechanism to community members to become more involved in the management of
the pilot schools [and] to transfer more responsibility and authority for school management to the
school administrators” (USAID/Egypt, 2002, p. 2). Reported accomplishments include “the
development of a new charter for the Boards of Trustees, [“upgrading” the Parent Teacher Council
mechanism, and, thus,]… firmly establish[ing] the principle that the community has a substantial role
to play in monitoring the management of their schools and raising additional funds for their
34
The Ministry of International Cooperation evaluation report (MIC, 2006) adds, less optimistically:
“However, the sustainability and rate of participation is questionable. The board of trustees (the new electoral
system) might constitute a set back for the community participation” (p. 8).
Education Policy Analysis Archives Vol. 18 No. 5
22
schools” (USAID/Egypt, 2002, p. 3); having the national Minister of Education in 2001 “authorize
the Governorate [of Alexandria] to ‘undertake any action necessary to implement the pilot project’
[and authorize] schools… to undertake independent decisions and actions to improve the school
and student learning… [and] generate revenue and raise funds” (Tietjens, McLaughlin, El Said, &
Amin, 2005, p. iv; see also El Baradei & El Baradei, 2004, p. 62);
35
and enabling “school
administrators… [to] embrace and master many of the new responsibilities.… [and] every school
[to] develop a school vision, mission and
school improvement plan” (Tietjens, McLaughlin, El Said,
& Amin, 2005, p. v).
It is important to discuss the dynamics leading up to what one key MOE official termed “the
historical moment in Egypt about decentralization,” since it illuminates the roles played by local and
national Egyptian actors as well as USAID/Egypt staff (interview, Hassan El Bilawi, February 15,
2008). The Minister of Education at this time described the experience as follows:
It was always in the back of my mind that we have to implement decentralization,
but through a national evolution, not drastic or precipitous actions. [We can’t]
just throw away the responsibilities from my shoulders and put it on them; this is
not a responsible act. Therefore, we were in [Williamsburg], something with
USAID [Gore-Mubarak initiative], and at that time Abdel Salama was governor
of Alexandria. He’s a good friend of mine, and I respect him, and he is a very
able man.
36
He has very good relations with the business community in
Alexandria, and the business community in Alexandria is a very well-developed
community.… They are involved in social activities… Therefore, [when I
returned from the Williamsburg meeting,] I told him, ‘Now I can delegate power
to you. You can monitor the process, you have a well developed business
community, you have USAID which is going to give you $20 million to upgrade
some schools.’… I felt secure when I delegated power in that project; I was not
just putting it off of my shoulders. (interview, Hussein Kamal Bahaa El Din,
February 16, 2008)
An Egyptian who as a USAID/Egypt staff member played a key role in planning and
implementing this project recounts the story similarly, but gives more attention to the initiative
of Alexandrians:
[Certain Alexandrian businessmen] weren’t very happy with the schools, and they
thought that so much money was being spent on education, and if they were
given this money, they would be able to do better education for the children.…
And they started negotiating with the Ministry of Education. They needed
USAID’s help, so they approached AID to provide some support… But then, in
1999 or 2000,… there was an important meeting in Williamsburg… [at which the
35
Tietjens et al. (2005) elaborate that “although a law (#43) permitting decentralization of authority to
local government had been passed in 1979, it has never been operational in Alexandria (or elsewhere) as it
applied to education.… [The 2001 MOE decree clarified that Alexandria could even take actions] that directly
contravened standard MOE policies and procedures.
This was the first time such a delegation had occurred”
(p. iv).
36
Another MOE official also emphasized the importance of the competence and character of local actors
in decisions about moving ahead with decentralization: “This is based on the character of the governor. One
governor… can do it, and the other one is very bureaucratic and he cannot even take a decision for himself”
(interview, Mustafa Abdel Samie, February 8, 2008).
Reforming Educational Governance and Management in Egypt
23
Minister] agreed on doing one small pilot.
37
… I then became involved after they
came back… We started working with the Alex community, the business people
and the governor, on what exactly they wanted to do… [We] weren’t sure
whether the Minister would allow this experiment to happen. So,… in early
2001… the partners signed a memorandum of intent… [and a consultant-
developed] concept paper was completed in June, 2001.… We had a special
Governor at that time [in Alexandria] because he was very much… involved in
education reform, in making this pilot successful. He went out of his way to do
things. (interview, Hala El Sarafy, February 18, 2008)
38
Another Egyptian staff member of USAID clarified how the strategy in Alexandria
represented only a limited form of decentralization, the Minister delegating to the Governor,
while also describing USAID/Egypt’s active role:
In 1999 we were talking about… focusing on decentralization but just on the
governorates… The full concept of working on schools expanded with sort of
decentralization and community participation.… [I]n Williamsburg,… the
proposal to the Minister was ‘Why don’t you allow for one governor to try a
pilot?’… He agreed… but he didn’t really have any buy-in, because he knew that
the laws, the regulations, the finance were all central.… The whole idea of
decentralization was deconcentration… They wanted the Governor to become a
decision-maker without having to go back to the Minister… The idea of
delegation to the Governor was proposed and he agreed.… USAID went to the
Governor… coming out of the agreement reached at Williamsburg… and said
‘we have funding, we want to help you, we want to show a good model of a
governorate.… We were running the project directly from USAID… because…
[there was] no contractor… And they started to look for a mechanism to oversee
that. So somebody came up with the idea, why don’t we pull out a few people
from the
muddiriya
[governorate or state] and the
idarras
[districts] and call it the
Education Reform Committee… But there was no devolution of finance or of
authority at the school level. (interview, Mona Zikri, February 17, 2008)
As the Alexandria Reform Pilot Project was being initiated, during 2001–2002, a number of
other organizations published reports assessing or recommending changes in Egypt’s system of
educational governance and management, including the following. First, the Egyptian government’s
National Center for Education Research and Development (NCERD, 2001) observed that Egyptian
education policy is based on “specifying the educational policy within a democratic framework,”
“diversifying resources of education finance and offering sufficient opportunities for the private
sector and non-governmental organizations to participate in financing education,” and “benefiting
from the current universal experiences within a framework of international co-operation to reform
and develop education” (pp. 6–7). Second, the World Bank (2002) claimed that to improve
37
An American USAID/Egypt administrator explained that “the Gore-Mubarak Initiative… got the
Minister involved at a high, visible level, where we could actually put a little pressure on him. Before that
time, any time we talked about reform, it had to be incremental… and on the margin” (interview, Sally
Patton, June 18, 2008).
38
Concerning the 2002 ministerial decree delegating authority, she said that “the Governor… said ‘This is
like the Minister of Education signed a blank check to us.’”
Education Policy Analysis Archives Vol. 18 No. 5
24
management in education, Egypt needed to “devolve decision-making to the school, with
participation of key stakeholders… Some reforms aimed at decentralizing management and
involving local stakeholders have been initiated, but substantial work remains to be done.… The
current, rather rigid central planning process… [discourages] creativity and innovation” (pp. 47–48).
Third, though not focused specifically on Egypt, the
Arab Human Development Report
stimulated
considerable debate among educators and other stakeholders in Egypt (El Baradei & El Baradei,
2004). The report
presented “a radical vision of education reform” (UNDP, 2002, p. 51), including
going “beyond government action to strong partnerships between states, the private sector, and civil
society” (p. 57) and moving toward “decentralized administration [and] the empowerment of local
management” (p. 59). Fourth, in its assessment to inform USAID/Egypt’s project planning, Aguirre
International (2002) stated that in Egypt the “[a]dministration and supervision of MOE schools is
hierarchical.… The budget is administered centrally… At present very few decisions are made at the
school level. The school receives no budget other than a small allotment for maintenance and a
portion of the children’s school fees” (p. 13).
39
And the report adds that
[m]any of the constraints to improving education in Egypt must be solved at the local level
with genuine participation of all stakeholders… [including] non-governmental organizations
(NGOs), communities, and parents… While encouraging progress has been made in
mobilizing communities to become more involved in education, the challenge remains on
how to dispel perceptions that greater parental and community involvement only means
increasing financial demands on communities.… [Thus,] more work is required to ensure
[parent teacher councils and boards of trustees] are fully involved in school policy,
governance and management” (Aguirre International, 2002, Section IV, pp. 6–7).
Also, in September 2002 Egypt’s governing National Democratic Party (NDP) issued a
major statement, “Education Reform Policy.” One of the three pillars on which this policy was
developed is “broadening the base of community participation,” which “covers two basic goals: a) a
direction towards decentralization [of education management] and b) an effective role for the civil
society and the private sector in education” (NDP, 2002, p. 9):
Decentralization
will allow the responsible ministries the opportunity and time for
strategic planning, supervision, and inspection of service providers rather than
the indulgence in solving daily problems. Ministries will have the opportunity to
lay out evaluation standards on the basis of management or the final outcome of
the educational process, and to allocate budgets on the basis of new criteria in
which competition among governorates is an effective factor. The objective of
the gradual direction towards decentralization is better management and higher
efficiency… This direction also… [reflects] the philosophy that the school is the
main cell of the educational process and… will enable a larger base of
participation
of
municipal leadership…[and] the
local community
… (NDP, 2002,
p. 11; emphasis added)
39
At about the same time, USAID/Washington staff were working on an issue paper, “Strengthening
Basic Education through Institutional Reform” (USAID, 2002), which highlighted areas of reform “
with the
potential to improve educational performance,” including “institutional reforms that place greater control
over schools in the hands of local communities and parents”
(p. 4).
The paper states that, like other
international donors, USAID has “
embraced decentralization to the school level as a major component of
their strategies in educational development,” (p. 7) in part to reduce petty and other forms of “corruption.”
Reforming Educational Governance and Management in Egypt
25
Furthermore, The National Democratic Party (2002) policy statement emphasizes that
the “private sector is invited to… invest in establishing new schools,… while the civil society,
families and individuals [are invited] to participate more effectively in, governorate councils and
district and school boards” (pp. 17–18); “the direction towards decentralization should be within
the framework of the general policy of the State, [involve] gradual implementation and
experimentation prior to generalization,… [and include] proper selection of those participating
in management and supervision” (pp. 13–14); and “the central Ministry should keep the
responsibility of maintaining the national fabric, emphasizing national identity, ensuring social
peace and national security” (p. 13).
Coincident with the National Democratic Party developing this policy statement, the MOE
was crafting the
National Plan for Education for All (2002/2003–2015/2016).
The plan, which
was distributed in February 2003, “was prepared… in accordance with the model proposed by
UNESCO Regional Office in Asia and the Pacific” (El Baradei & El Baradei, 2004, pp. 23–24). The
principles identified by the Decentralization and Community Participation subcommittee
contributing to the Plan reiterate points stressed in the NDP policy statement: “the need for
expanding decentralization through delegating;” “distributing responsibilities gradually between the
central level, the governorate and local administration level and school level;” building institutional
capacities at the local level to guarantee that the transfer or delegation of authority will be to a more
efficient party;” “the MOE is the national entity responsible for reforming and developing
education;” and the MOE’s role includes “protecting national identity, social peace, national security,
implementing the constitution and the law without pressures from the local communities” (MOE,
2003a; quoted in El Baradei & El Baradei, 2004, pp. 14–15).
Reforming Educational Governance and Management, 2002–2007
In his speech to the closing session of the 2002 National Democratic Party Conference, at
which the NDP “Education Reform Policy” statement was presented and adopted, President
Mubarak stated, “With regard to education at the school…, we have… emphasized… a new
framework that would allow greater participation by the private sector in this vital field. This entails
drawing up and implementing clear national standards to measure educational quality” (Mubarak,
2002; printed in MOE, 2003b, p. 2). In its efforts to decentralize authority administratively and to
increase parents’ and community members’ participation in educational decision-making, but at the
same time preserve “national security” as well as conform with nationally agreed upon notions of
education quality, the Egyptian government (MOE) constituted in October 2002 “the Higher
Committee for Setting the National Standards of Education in Egypt” (El Baradei & El Baradei,
2004, p. 22).
40
This committee developed “standards and performance indicators in the following
five [areas]:
the effective school, the educator, educational management excellence, community
participation, the curriculum and learning outcomes” (MOE, 2003b, p. 4). A major objective of the
standards for “educational management excellence” is to “[c]onsolidate the concepts of
transparency, accountability, competition and decentralization in the educational institutions to
deepen the feeling of belonging among its members” (MOE, 2003b, p. 92), listing indicators of
performance for “high,” “middle,” and “implementation level” leaders. And the area of “community
participation” includes the following standards: “encourage participation of parents in educational
decision-making, and their effective involvement in drawing up a future vision for the school and in
40
According to the Ministry of Education, a “number of international organizations contributed to the
support of this project, including UNICEF, which sponsored three intensive retreats, as well as [USAID’s
Project] IELP-II, which allowed for meetings with international experts” (MOE, 2003a, p. 8).
Education Policy Analysis Archives Vol. 18 No. 5
26
the implementation of various programs;” “obtain material assistance for educational institutions
and schools from the local community, companies, and business community;” and “provide the
mechanisms to organize voluntary work for parents and citizens to support the educational and
social activities in the school” (MOE, 2003b, pp. 132–133).
In 2003 a Ministerial Decree (No. 262, 4 November), based on the 2001 protocol focusing
only on the Governorate of Alexandria, augmented the legal basis for decentralization in education,
adding six other governorates to the picture. According to UNESCO (2006), the decree “delegate[d]
authority to the school level by determining the responsibilities of school management and
educational administration in [all] governorates” (p. 14) and established “three new units within
schools—responsible for total quality, productive activities, and training and evaluation,…
indicat[ing] that schools would be expected to play a greater role in self assessment, determination of
training needs, deciding on productive activities, and self improvement needs… Moreover, the
administrative system in the governorates has been reinforced by appointing an undersecretary in
charge of education in each governorate” (pp. 15–16).
According to the then-Minister of Education, this decree was based in part on his
perceptions of the characteristics of the governors: “And when I met other governors, I said:
‘Whenever I have a governor in whom I have confidence that he would do a good job, and who has
very good contacts with the community, who has been collaborating successfully with the business
community in other projects, I’m going to make the same [delegation of authority]. When I left, I
had six [other] governorates to which I [delegated authority to the governors].… It [decentralization]
has to be developed without any risk of decreasing quality” (interview, Hussein Kamal Bahaa El
Din, February 16, 2008). An Egyptian staff member of USAID suggests that the Minister’s decision
was also shaped by the Alexandria pilot project experience and the plans for implementing a new
USAID/Egypt initiative, the Educational Reform Program (ERP, see discussion below): “The
Minister of Education,… although at the beginning he was very skeptical,… later on he started to be
very supportive of… this pilot.… And he encouraged other governorates, other governors, to
follow the Alex model. And that’s when the ERP came on board at USAID and we did the design,
and seven governorates [including Alexandria]… wanted to participate in educational reform and
became part of the project.… [The Minister] was very supportive of the idea of decentralization and
empowering people to make their own decisions, but he wasn’t believing [in this for] the levels
below the governorate (interview, Hala El Serafy, February 18, 2008).
Nevertheless, in its annual
Egypt Human Development Report
, the United Nations
Development Program (UNDP) and the Institute of National Planning (2003) argued that, in terms
of “centralization and decentralization practiced by the state,… [i]t is worth remembering that the
system applied in Egypt is one of local administration and not local governance.… The first relates
to a decentralized system of execution, while the second is linked to the state political system based
on the nation’s constitution, whereby autonomy and rights are distributed between the state and the
units that compose it, and which possess judiciary, legislative, and executive authority as determined
in the constitution” (p. 87). Similar concerns about the state of educational governance and
management were expressed in USAID/Egypt’s request for applications for what became the
Education Reform Program (ERP). These documents made the following statements:“The
education system in Egypt is highly centralized. Schools management lacks decision-making
authority and adequate resources. Most important personnel and financial decisions are made by the
Ministries of Local Administration and [of] Finance and not necessarily reflecting the Ministry of
Education needs;” and “Community involvement in education is minimal and parents are often
reluctant to participate in their children’s schools. Communities are not mobilized to provide
funding and other resources to schools. Only a few schools have active Parent Teacher Councils
Reforming Educational Governance and Management in Egypt
27
(PTCs) or other organizations, which permit and encourage parents to participate in their children's
education” (USAID/Egypt, 2003a, p. 4; USAID/Egypt, 2003b, pp. 7–8).
ERP initiated its technical assistance and training activities at the end of June 2004, operated
by two Educational Quality Improvement Project consortia (EQUIP1 and EQUIP2, led by the
American Institutes for Research and the Academy for Educational Development, respectively).
Initially planned to run until 2009, ERP was designed to achieve the following intermediate results,
working initially mainly in seven focal governorates, with a particular focus on a subset of school
communities in one or two
idarras
(or districts) in each governorate: “the business community, civil
society, and community leaders provide leadership, funding, and programs to support education;”
“parents actively engage in their children’s education;” and “policymaking authority is decentralized
and funding diversified”
(USAID/Egypt, 2003a, pp. 17–18). The EQUIP1 consortium (AIR et al.,
2004a) listed among its proposed activities the supporting community development associations to
“establish and manage community education trust funds and mobilize community and business
resources to add to these funds in order to address some of the education needs;” “rais[ing]
awareness of
muddiriya
[governorate]
and
idarra
officials for the importance of parental and
community involvement;” and “work[ing] closely with private sector organizations in supporting the
implementation of… school improvement plans” (pp. 12–15). And the EQUIP2 consortium (AED
et al., 2004a) identified the following among its key tasks: “develop[ing] an effective GEAC
[Governor’s Education Advisory Committee] in each governorate;” “conduct[ing] management and
technical training at all levels to implement a decentralized system;” “establish[ing] management
systems in identified priority functional areas (finance, training, personnel, curriculum);” and
“help[ing] institute an [private sector-resourced] Education Reform Fund… to be used for… reform
interventions” (pp. 12–14).
As USAID/Egypt and the two EQUIP consortia were initiating ERP, President Mubarak
rearranged his cabinet, appointing Ahmed Gamal Eddin Moussa to replace Hussein Kamal Bahaa El
Din as Minister of Education. In the view of El Baradei and El Baradei (2004), “[e]ver since the
change in cabinet in July 2004,… the President and Prime Minister have shown remarkable interest
in education reform” (p. 28). For instance, in his September 23, 2004, speech at the National
Democratic Party annual conference, the Prime Minister listed among “the main future trends for
the reform of education in Egypt … moving strongly towards decentralization… On the 31
October, the Minister of Education announced that quality [and] decentralization [are among]… his
main concerns and priorities. On the 22 November 2004, the President held a meeting to discuss the
reform plan for pre-university education,… [focusing on] seven main pillars for reform…
[including]: emphasizing decentralization and community participation” (El Baradei & El Baradei,
2004, pp. 28–29).
41
Moreover, in September 2004, the Ministry of Education issued its report on
“Reforming Pre-University Education Programs” (MOE, 2004), which focused on five main pillars,
including “decentralization and enhancing community participation” (p. 6). This report “lists the
successful experiences of Alexandria [USAID], the Community Schools [UNICEF and CIDA], the
One-Class School [MOE], and the girl-friendly schools [USAID: NSP]” initiatives; notes the
“resistance from leaders in central positions to delegate and transfer authorities and responsibilities
to lower levels;” and outlines plans for expanding the “Alexandria experience to other
41
Mo
re
gene
r
a
l
ly
,
a
t
th
i
s
annu
a
l
cong
re
s
s
in
2004
,
the
NDP
h
igh
l
igh
ted
the
impo
r
t
ance
o
f
decentralization and defined guidelines for such a trend in terms of education, health and economy… This
attention has been crowned through the presidential platform wherein the decentralization has been
considered as a key pillar for democracy activation… and a base for a partnership between the government
and the concerned parties in the civil society” (NDP, 2007, p. 7).
Education Policy Analysis Archives Vol. 18 No. 5
28
governorates…: Cairo, El-Minia, Fayoum, Beni-Suef, Qena, Aswan, Dakahlia, Sharqia, Luxor and
then other governorates” (El Baradei & El Baradei, 2004, p. 25).
42
One MOE official and two Egyptian staff members of USAID/Egypt commented in
interviews on Ahmed Gamal Eddin Moussa’s emphasis on decentralization. According to the MOE
official, with “the new Minister, Ahmed Gamal Eddin, his agenda was about activating
decentralization.… Decentralization was on the agenda before 2004, but he [Gamal Eddin] moved it
to education. And the first action for him was to give a Powerpoint presentation at the Alexandria
meeting about decentralization… And the idea of board of trustees now became [stronger], because
[it] had been applied and implemented in the Alexandria pilot… and has been generalized in the six
[other ERP focal] governorates. But Gamal Eddin, he generalized it… nationwide… [However,]
unfortunately,… [it was] not related to school-based reform” (interview, Hassan El Bilawi, February
15, 2008). One of the USAID/Egypt staff members reported that the focus on
idarra
and the
school level “started maybe during Dr. Ahmed Gamal Eddin’s time. AID also played a very
important role… by organiz[ing] a… very crucial visit to the [US at the end of March 2005,] when
[the Minister] saw how it functioned, the education system in the United States… He met with
people at all levels… about how schools can make their own decisions, how the community is
involved, how decentralization can work. And by the time he came back, he was very supportive
of… the importance of school leadership [and]… engaging communities and establishing boards of
trustees in all schools in Egypt, and decentralizing” (interview, Hala El Sarafy, February 18, 2008).
The other USAID/Egypt staff member explained that Gamal Eddin “from the beginning was very
strong on decentralization. He even made symbolic gestures that he wouldn’t sign anything that
could be signed by someone lower in the system.… [Just before he left office] he came up with the
idea that the whole Ministry required an organizational restructuring, and he had a design—funded
by the European Union –… for a decentralized restructuring of the Ministry… [and to] devolve
decision-making” (interview, Mona Zikri, February 17, 2008).
In this context various international organizations offered their assessments of and
encouragements for Egypt’s publicized commitments to decentralization and community
participation. First, in October 2004, UNDP and the Institute for National Planning issued its
Egypt
Human Development Report EHDR 2004
(UNDP and INP, 2004),
“Choosing Decentralization
for Good Governance.” The report recommends “utilizing and implementing some forms of
administrative, fiscal and political decentralization in the education sector as a tool towards
increasing efficiency and improving quality of educational services delivery” (El Baradei & El
Baradei, 2004, p. 24).
Second, in December 2004 “Needs Assessment of the Education Sector in Egypt” was
released (El Baradei & El Baradei, 2004). The report underwritten by the German Development
Cooperation Agencies and produced by Egyptian researchers identified the following among Egypt’s
strengths: “greater emphasis on… community participation;… establishing National Standards for
Education; decentralization efforts in the form of a new school-based approach” (p. 32).
Weaknesses included a tendency for “recommendations regarding reforming education… [to be]
made without real interaction or participation by the real stakeholders, represented in parents,
students and teachers” and “some [dysfunctional] organizational culture norms developed through
ages of a non-democratic environment: such as ‘showing obedience to an official so long as he is in
office’ and taking excessive precautions against corruption, which leads to lengthened bureaucratic
procedures, and slow decision making” (p. 39).
42
Along with Alexandria, the first six governorates listed were included as focal governorates of the
Education Reform Program, launched at the end of June 2004.
Reforming Educational Governance and Management in Egypt
29
Third, in April 2005 USAID/Washington (2005) published its report on a global
Education
Strategy: Improving Lives through Learning
, asserting that “USAID includes education… as part of
its strategic efforts to promote economic prosperity and security” (p. 1) and outlining several goals,
including arguments that USAID should “counter problems with financial corruption and teacher
absenteeism [by] fostering decentralized school governance” and promote “active participation by
parents and community members in the governance of schools” (pp. 8–10).
Fourth, in October 2005 UNDP and the Institute of National Planning (UNDP and INP,
2005) published its
Egypt Human Development Report 2005
, which stresses that “the… universal
welfare regime in Egypt is fiscally unsustainable without private sector participation in… the
provision of public services,… decentralization of authority and fiscal responsibility, and incentives
for increased political and social participation” (p. vii). Arguing that a “culture of quality” as well as
“decentralization and democratization” are “preconditions for quality education” (p. 63), UNDP
and INP (2005) defined more generally “a vision for Egypt” to include “a new ‘social contract’
whereby, in a paradigm shift, the state reduces its central control and promotes further political,
social and economic participation from civil society” (p. 4).
Fifth, in November 2005 the World Bank (2005) issued an update to its 1999 Education
Sector Strategy. Among other things, the document focuses on “governance and decentralization of
education management” (p. 36). It referred to its
2004 World Development Report
(World Bank,
2004) in arguing that the “decentralization of school management can create opportunities to
improve incentives and accountability… Gains to education can come from clarifying central and
local roles for all sectors. This will include issues related to school… management (for example, in
teacher hiring) and improving financing to encourage transparency, predictability, equitable resource
allocation, and efficient resource use.… [Moreover,] empowering local communities to control
money targeted to help them can contribute importantly to improving education services, by
affecting such inputs as teachers, learning materials, and curricula.… Parents and communities also
need… to be empowered to voice their views on school improvement” (World Bank, 2005, pp. 41–
42).
In line with such calls for greater civil society participation, in 2005 the Ministry of
Education issued “
Ministerial Decree No. 258
… [replacing]
Decree No.5/1993
and expanding and
deepening the roles and responsibilities of [Boards of Trustees (BOTs)] and the Parents’ and
Educators’ Councils. For example, in contrast to the strictly advisory role accorded to BOTs in
Decree No. 5/1993, the new law gives these bodies a wide executive mandate in all aspects of
educational process and school management” (Sheta, 2007, p. 3). However, the 2005 decree may
have gone too far in opening up avenues for participation or it contained some ambiguities that
needed to be clarified, since another Ministerial Decree (No. 334) was issued in 2006: “This decree
spelled out again the roles and responsibilities of the boards and school principals, outlined their
financial and administrative powers and ways for enhancing community participation at the school
level, and allowed for the formulation of coordination committees at the governorates and districts
levels” (MOE, 2007, Chapter 4, p. 1). As a key MOE official reported: “Some administrative
problems came out related to who signs the check at the level of the school… the director of the
school or someone outside [BOT community leader]… When the outsider signed, there was no
accountability for the people within the system itself.… There were [also] some questions about who
would be elected and who would be appointed.… Now, [some] teacher are [by definition] in the
new BOT… having a formula for a good partnership” (interview, Hassan El Bilawi, February 15,
2008).
During the 2004–2007 period, projects funded by USAID/Egypt and by the European
Union, the World Bank, and other donor agencies offered technical assistance and training related to
Education Policy Analysis Archives Vol. 18 No. 5
30
MOE commitments to reforming governance and management. This included raising awareness
about the National Standards, developing tools and procedures for conducting standards-based
assessments of schools, and building capacity of MOE personnel and community members at
various levels of the system to assume anticipated or newly defined roles. For instance, in the
context of Law 82 of June 2006, establishing the “National Authority/Agency for Educational
Quality Assurance and Accreditation,” the School Team Excellence Awards Program was initiated
“in all primary schools in all governorates of Egypt… through coordination with the Ministry of
Education and USAID” (Soliman & Aziz, 2006, p. 5). The tools developed by the staff and used by
local school-community groups to compete for awards and to prepare for the expected process of
accreditation focused on two areas of the National Standards: “effective school” and “community
participation.” The project and the manual it developed were informed by “a school-based reform
approach, the most salient aspects of which are: 1) the school as the unit for improvement and
transformation…; 2) the school as a unit for analysis and evaluation…; 3) the decentralization of
school management…; and 4) community participation in school reform and improvement”
(Soliman & Aziz, 2006, pp. 1–2).
In 2006, not long after Yousry Saber Husien El Gamal replaced Ahmed Gamal Eddin
Moussa as Minister of Education, with technical assistance from USAID/Egypt and other
international agencies the MOE began a strategic planning process involving dozens of people,
including MOE staff, university professors, and civil society representatives. The first full draft of
the National Education Strategic Plan was distributed (in English) in January 2007, and a somewhat
revised version was accepted by the Cabinet in October 2007. Pillars of the MOE approach to
school-based reform included the following: strengthening societal participation, decentralization,
strengthening school budget and financial management, and strengthening good governance (MOE,
2006b). The overall goal of the Plan’s Chapter 4, “Institutionalization of Decentralization,” is to
“[s]upport the institutional capacity of the educational system to achieve systems efficiency and
effectiveness through institutionalizing decentralization at all system levels” (MOE, 2007, Ch. 4, p.
4)
.
Chapter 4 focuses on three components: organizational and structural development,
administrative decentralization, and financial management improvement (MOE, 2007, Ch. 4., pp. 4–
5).
43
Moreover, the Strategic Plan identifies four dimensions in the MOE’s vision for moving toward
decentralization.
The first dimension is “g
iving more powers to schools financially and administratively in
decision-making and expanding community participation
: schools will be empowered to develop
their own development plan, implement monitoring and self-evaluation processes as tools to further
improvement, develop a school budget, manage materials and educational resources, manage human
resources including punishment and reward, identify professional development needs, evaluate staff
performance, coordinate technical supervision with the
idarras
, identify teaching approaches,
manage school financial resources, and organize and manage social, educational, cultural and sports
activities. Schools will also be empowered to increase partnership with the civil society, support the
43
The Introduction to Chapter 4 of the
Strategic Plan
document (MOE, 2007) defines decentralization
as “
the devolution of authorities
from the central decision-making level to the service-provision level, by
giving more decision-making powers to the school and idarra levels, while leaving the executive tasks of
monitoring,
planning,
and
curriculum
development
to
the
muddiriyat
and
the
central
Ministry
.
Decentralisation is a mean for promoting education quality, not a goal in itself. It is consistent with the State’s
vision for the service sector, which calls for central authorities’ role to be limited to overall policy-making,
determining standards, measuring performance, monitoring and organizing the service, and ensuring equity
and quality are achieved at all levels” (Ch. 4., p. 1).
Reforming Educational Governance and Management in Egypt
31
efforts of boards of trustees and parents towards the improvement of education, and benefit from
the available resources at the local level” (MOE, 2007, Ch. 4, p. 2).
The second dimension focuses on “
devolving the administrative powers to the
idarra level
:
This will be achieved by increasing the roles and responsibilities of the
idarra
as far as developing
the
idarra
and giving support to schools in light of schools’ development planning, which include
technical supervision, monitoring and evaluation, financial management of schools’ appropriations,
supporting partnerships with the civil society, managing training plans developed at the
idarra
level,
assessing needs of schools regarding books, monitoring and managing the distribution of books and
other educational materials, coordinating technology modernization process at schools and its
maintenance in light of school plans and performance reports, coordinate different activities in
which groups of schools participate, monitor the implementation of civil works, coordinate the
maintenance of education buildings, and coordinate and implement financial and administrative
works related to school equipment” (MOE, 2007, Ch. 4, p. 2).
The third dimension is “
developing the role of governorates (muddiryias)
: The role of the
muddiriyas
will be concentrated on organizational, analytical and monitoring tasks, namely,
performing comprehensive situation analysis of districts’ [i.e.,
idarras
] performance in light of
standards determined by the MOE, providing technical support to the districts, developing the
educational plans at the governorate level, coordinating the decentralization of the curriculum,
managing the printing and distribution of books, and maintenance of the educational buildings with
the districts. The governorates become responsible for developing an annual state of the education
report in the governorate which registers and analyzes the variables and learning outcomes in light
of districts’ reports. All other field work will be at the district level” (MOE, 2007, Ch. 4, p. 3)
And the fourth dimension concerns “
developing the role of the [central] MOE as a
developer and monitor of policy and standards
: The role of the MOE will be concentrated on
developing policies, legislation and standards in light of the reports coming out of governorates,
which will include monitoring and evaluation of policy implementation, developing curriculum,
setting-up a system to develop human resources and managing it in a way that ensures
decentralization and transparency, and providing a moral professional incentive for teachers to
improve the level of education service. Accordingly, it is very important to reconsider the current
structure of the central Ministry and make it focused on six specific tasks: (1) policies and strategic
planning, (2) monitoring and evaluation (quality management), (3) curriculum and education
technology, (4) information and technology development, (5) developing human resources, and (6)
financial and administrative affairs” (MOE, 2007, Ch. 4, p. 3).
Moreover, in order to achieve “the national education goals, objectives and targets,… [t]he
National Strategic Education Plan
was to be translated into decentralized governorate-level
education plans [and]
muddiriyas
,
idarras
and schools will be empowered to implement the
governorate-level education plans” (MOE, 2007, Part IV, Ch. 2, p. 1).
44
Even while the Strategic
44
The Strategic Plan document (MOE, 2007) provides further details regarding a relatively top-down
method of implementation: “A National Education Plan and Implementation Committee (NEPIC) will be
established… [as will] a Partnership Committee (PC)”…, [which will be] attached directly to the Minister of
Education, in order to achieve coordination among partners of development, government and MoE towards
the achievement of the plan.… [Moreover,] the Policy and Strategic Planning Unit (PSPU) is a unit which
falls under the NEPIC… and includes three working groups: the Strategic Planning Working Group (SPWG),
the Implementation Support Working Group (ISWG) and finally, the Implementation Monitoring and
Evaluation Working Group (IMEWG).… [Finally,] each governorate will be supported to establish similar
organizational structures to those at the National level… [and the] Governorate Educational Planning and
Education Policy Analysis Archives Vol. 18 No. 5
32
Plan was being refined, the MOE (with ERP staff assistance) organized on March 17–18, 2007, an
“International Conference on Decentralization in Education,” featuring presentations by individuals
with government advisory and planning experience in the area of decentralization from Brazil, Chile,
Indonesia, Mexico, and South Africa. Attended by 230 people, including governors and MOE
undersecretaries, the conference focused on the MOE’s commitment to decentralization as well as
the challenges and benefits of decentralization in education. In his opening address, the Minister of
Education reiterated his commitment to decentralization: “The challenges we face are represented in
the huge system of Egyptian education and its expansion, which make it difficult to manage this
system centrally. Therefore, we should move towards the decentralization of education.…
Decentralization of education is not an end but rather a means to improve the education quality
process” (El-Gamal, 2007, p. 2). He also explained that he “envisioned… changes at all levels of the
education system, including: (i) increasing the authority of the school and extending community
participation in decision-making; (ii) moving authority for administration and coordination to
idarra
level…; (iii) developing the role of
muddiriyas
as an organizers and analysts…; and (iv) develop the
role of the [central] Ministry as a supervisor and policies/standards maker” (ERP, 2007a, p. 13).
March 2007 also witnessed an ERP-organized visit to Egypt by the EQUIP2 “Education
Reform Support Team” (EQUIP2, 2007), during which they initiated discussions with Minister of
Finance and other key officials about decentralization and formula funding in education. In these
discussions Ministry of Finance officials indicated conditional agreement with the idea of conducting
a pilot of financial decentralization within Education. This agreement was subject to receiving
assurance of the necessary local management, accountability and audit capacity and conducting the
pilots in Cairo to facilitate oversight being exercised by Ministry of Finance officials.
Subsequently, technical experts and advisers from the Ministry of Finance and MOE met to
outline a plan for the way forward, which represented the first step toward establishing an Inter-
Ministerial Committee (ERP, 2007a). And in June 2007 the Minister of Finance issued a decree
appointing the committee, composed of “senior level officials or technical officers, who report to
their respective ministers, from the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of
State for Administrative Development, and the Central Agency for Organization and
Administration” (ERP, 2007b, p. 16). Then on July 3, 2007, the first meeting of the Inter-Ministerial
Committee took place, followed by four other meetings between July and September 2007 (ERP,
2007c, p. 13).
By mid-July 2007, it was reported that “organizational and administrative decentralization
were being implemented in at least one pilot
idarra
in each of six ERP governorates,” that “in Cairo
three
idarras
were selected to pilot financial decentralization as well,” and that a workshop was
organized for key personnel to be involved in the planned financial decentralization pilots in Cairo
(ERP, 2007b, pp. 16, 21). Moreover, ERP staff—collaborating with two international consultants—
organized two national workshops on decentralized education funding during July-September 2007.
The first was a five-day workshop focusing on policy issues for a small team of high-level specialists
from the Ministry of Education, Ministry of Finance, and other concerned ministries, plus personnel
from the recently initiated decentralization projects in the six focal governorates (ERP, 2007c).
Based on the discussions during this workshop a paper, “Financing School-Based and
Idarra
-Based
Management: Policy Options and Suggestions” was produced and later distributed to participants
Implementation Committee (GEPIC)… will maintain and adhere to strong coordination with the NEPIC”
(MOE, 2007, Part IV, Ch. 2, pp. 3–6).
Reforming Educational Governance and Management in Egypt
33
(see Healy & Crouch, 2007).
45
The second workshop, focused on strengthening linkages between
policy change and operations and management, in relation to implementation of decentralized
education financing, was attended by the 7 governorate undersecretaries of Finance, these
governorates’ undersecretaries of Education, the MOE director of Finance and Administration, and
the directors of the pilot decentralization
idarras
in Cairo (ERP, 2007c). An Executive Roundtable
Policy Dialogue meeting in July 2007 also featured the two international consultants and focused on
“policy issues in the National Strategic Plan that relate to decentralization and education financing,
with particular attention to the relevance of international models and strategic approaches for the
situations in various governorates and
idarras
in Egypt” (ERP, 2007c, pp. 14–15).
Another relevant ERP-organized activity occurred in August 2007, when senior officials,
policymakers, and advisers from the MOE—as well as from the Ministry of State for Administrative
Development and Ministry of Local Development—accompanied the Minister of Education and the
Governor of Minia on a one-week study tour to Indonesia. “Participants gained direct access to
comparable ranking officials in Indonesia and learned about the process and outcomes of
[Indonesia’s] seven years of decentralization effort (begun at the district level in 2001), particularly in
education. Participants were also exposed to the policy framework, principles, strategies, and lessons
learned regarding decentralization in specific ministries and in local government generally” (ERP,
2007c, p. 15). During the study tour participants met with “Mae Chu Chang, [who] presented an
overview of the [World] Bank’s activities in education in Indonesia in relation to decentralization.
She referred to the initial 1999 legislation and the 2004 revised laws and to lessons learned by the
World Bank and other donors.… The delegation [also] met with HE H. Aburizal Bakri, Minister of
the
Coordinating Ministry for People’s Welfare,
[who]… explained that there are a) six national
ministries not subject to decentralization: Defence, Security, Foreign Affairs, Finance, Justice, and
Religious Affairs [as well as] b) three coordinating ministries in the areas of: 1) politics, law and
national security; 2) economics; and 3) people’s welfare” (ERP, 2007d, p. 4).
Not long after the study tour, in early September 2007, ERP staff assisted the Ministry of
Education in organizing the Governors’ Annual Meeting and Leadership Conference on Pre-
University Education, held in Alexandria. The theme of this conference attended by 200 participants
from all governorates in Egypt was “Decentralization in Education Reform.” Presentations and
discussions focused on the current status of the MOE National Strategic Plan, and lessons learned
from the seven ERP-supported governorates in the process of planning and implementation for
school-based reform, and insights gained from the Indonesian study tour (ERP, 2007c, p. 16–18).
In the context of what seemed like dramatic moves toward institutionalizing decentralization
and community participation (i.e., pilot projects, discussions by high-level officials from different
ministries, major public forums), the National Democratic Party held its annual conference in
November 2007. At this conference the leadership presented a policy paper that examines issues of
management and governance, focusing on education and other sectors. In this paper the NDP
(2007) affirmed its view that “civil society institutions are the closest partner to the public and… the
most capable entity to reflect the needs of the citizen. Therefore, supporting civil society institutions
and erasing any obstacles that might face them is a dire need to achieve the aspired developmental
goals and deepen the transformation process towards real democracy” (p. 4). The document argues
further that there is a “need to improve the relationship between the local and central levels
45
In part this paper states that the “education sector appears to be leading the way with the number of
decentralization programs underway that are aimed to bring about widespread school-based reform.
Fundamental to the success of the Ministry of Education’s efforts is the concomitant decentralization of
education finance” (Healy & Crouch, 2007, p. 1).
Education Policy Analysis Archives Vol. 18 No. 5
34
[because] the actual role of local units in Egypt is restricted to a limited number of tasks in such a
way that leads to poor participation of the local communities in the social responsibility. The
relationship between the local and central levels is highly centralized, where policies and
development plans are developed at the central levels for all sectors” (p. 15). And the policy paper
also stresses that “the success of decentralization depends on the positive participation of citizens in
identifying and monitoring the implementation of the priorities, maintaining and increasing the gains
of the local community. This requires citizens to have a high degree of political awareness in
selecting their representatives” (p. 18).
46
Earlier the paper alludes to a recent achievement, “the constitutional amendments ratified in
2007 as a pivotal shift in the march of democracy since they reiterated the citizenship rights,
provided more balance between the executive and legislative authorities, opened the door for
stronger role of parties, increased woman representation in the parliament, developed local
administration units, and improved the electoral process” (NDP, 2007, p. 1).
47
Moreover, NDP’s
2007 policy paper discusses a recent amendment to the Constitution that addressed issues related to
terrorism. As can be seen in the excerpts below, the amendment was developed to allow the repeal
of the “emergency law” of [1980 as amended in 1992] while still maintaining adequate mechanisms
to maintain national security and avert terrorism:
Terrorism has become one of the serious dangers threatening the citizen from
leading a safe life,… destabilizing the state and undermining development
efforts.… The state [in 1980, following the assassination of President Anwar
Sadat,] sought the Emergency Law as one of the basic tools to combat terrorism,
yet the vision of the President [Mubarak] to go back to the normal legal status
and abolish all extraordinary means necessitated the issuance of Anti-Terrorism
Law to serve as a legislative alternative for the Emergency Law.… The
government and the [National Democratic] Party have adopted a draft anti-
terrorism legislation [in 2007] to combat terrorism and ensure the protection and
safety of its citizens. They pledged that this legislation would not be a repetition
of the provisions of the emergency law… [and only] will deal with specific
terrorist crimes as defined by international standards. (NDP, 2007, p. 10)
Conclusion
One must consider how national level (technical, political, and institutional dimension)
factors as well as global (organizational, economic, political/military, and ideological) dynamics help
make sense of Egypt’s experience with respect to reforming educational governance and
management. As described in the chronology above, the technical dimension suggests that one
46
NDP’s (2007) reference to citizens having “a high degree of political awareness in selecting their
representatives” was made approximately one year after candidates presumed to be affiliated with the Muslim
Brotherhood won approximately 25% of the seats in the People’s Assembly.
47
According to the Economist Intelligence Unit (2006), “the Mubarak government has been adopting a
gradual approach to political reform, while keeping a tight grip on power. Since 1981, emergency laws have
been invoked, which empower law enforcement agencies to detain suspects without proof of charges or trial
indefinitely. The latest parliamentary elections were conducted under legal supervision and resulted in
opposition figures winning 20% of total seats, an unprecedented presence. Since then, a policy of tightening
control has been adopted” (p. 9).
Reforming Educational Governance and Management in Egypt
35
consider the reform rhetoric and action concerned with decentralization and community
participation. During the period under review Egypt experienced movement, though uneven, toward
increased decentralization, with calls for deconcentration of responsibility in 1981, MOE actions
that restricted local decision-making authority in the 1990s, and some concerted efforts toward
delegation and (even) devolution of authority as well as responsibility after 2001. In terms of
community participation, during this period there calls for and actions toward implementing broader
and deeper forms and degrees of involvement by parents, civil society, and businesses. There was
less activity targeting community participation in the 1980s, contradictory actions (mobilizing and
demobilizing) during the 1990s, and a greater push (with some pull back) for community
involvement during the 2000s.
We now turn to a discussion of these technical developments in terms of the national
institutional and political dimensions (institutional framework and capacity, financial resource
capacity and political will, civil society’s role and political will) as well as global dynamics and the role
of international organizations. In this discussion we will illustrate many of the points by quoting
from the key informants we interviewed.
Institutional Framework and Capacity
With respect to decentralization, the 1981 Education Law enacted at the beginning of
Mubarak’s administration echoed earlier definitions (e.g., the 1883 provincial councils statute,
48
the
1939 zones decree,
49
and the 1960 Local Administrative Law;
50
see Ibrahim & Hozayn, 2006) of the
division of responsibilities between the central MOE and the governorates, while also clarifying the
overarching authority of the center. Project activities during the 1980s and 1990s contributed to
organizational and personnel capacity development, especially at the central and, in a few
governorates, at the local (
muddiriya
,
idarra
, and school levels). However, during these decades no
48
According to Ibrahim and Hozayn (2006), “the first decentralization of education in Egypt occurred
during the British occupation, when the Provincial Councils (PC) were established by an 1883 occupation law;
however, this law was not activated until 1909, when PC’s were granted full recognition via Law 22, which
allowed them to administer and finance provincial schools. According to Russell (2001), PC’s were
established because they were ‘the easiest way to build the lower tier of schools without great
expenditure…In keeping with [the desire of the rulers] to expand basic literacy but to maintain control, PC’s
were created to supervise all forms of vernacular education. Thus, local elites would oversee the dispersion of
funds to these schools’ (p. 52)” (pp. 11–12).
49
Ibrahim and Hozayn (2006) report that “the second attempt at decentralization of education in Egypt
took place in May 1939, when a ministerial decree divided Egypt into six educational zones and granted
technical, administrative, and financial responsibilities to local authorities… Each zone was under the
direction of a “controller” or “director” appointed by the Ministry. The zone controllers had limited powers
to disburse the budget, but were in charge of all professional and administrative matters pertaining to all
public schools” (p. 15).
50
Ibrahim and Hozayn (2006) state that “the third decentralization of education was, initially, part of a
larger scheme related to the development of rural areas of Egypt.… The legal framework underpinning the
Local Councils, established between 1960 and 1979, is essentially the same one which underpins the present
education system [in 2006]. This framework covers two major areas: local administration laws and education
laws.… In 1960 the Local Administrative Law was issued with the aim of distributing authority for planning,
implementation, and evaluation of education between the center and the local, so that a healthy administrative
decentralization could be achieved, in order that central bodies would have more time to focus on setting
general policies and regulations. As far as education was concerned, the law gave local units (
marakiz
,
villages, cities) responsibility for establishing, equipping, and running different kinds of schools” (p. 19–20).
Education Policy Analysis Archives Vol. 18 No. 5
36
significant decrees or laws were issued that promoted decentralization, while, particularly during the
1990s, MOE actions (purging personnel and materials and specifying a dress code) may be seen as
reinforcing a centralized system.
The 2001 and 2003 ministerial decrees granted Alexandria’s governor and then six other
governors authority over educational reform in their governorates, reflecting an increased
momentum toward decentralization. This momentum was also signaled in the National Democratic
Party’s 2002 “Education Reform Policy” statement, the educational management section of the 2003
“National Education Standards,” the 2004 MOE report on “Reforming Pre-University Education
Programs, and the institutionalization of decentralization program of the 2007 national “Strategic
Plan for Education.” Paralleling and mutually reinforcing the words in these documents, a variety of
capacity development, organizational restructuring, planning, and piloting activities took place—
perhaps the most important being the 2007 focus of the Inter-Ministerial Committee on
administrative and financial decentralization pilots. One should still note that during this period
there were also moves to strengthen central government authority and responsibility. While the 2003
National Standards had a section identifying indicators for managers at various levels of the system,
overall they provided a mechanism for centrally defining what administrators, teachers, students, and
the community should do. In addition, while the 2006 law establishing the National Authority for
Quality Assurance and Accreditation defines a role for school-level and other personnel to
participate in the process, it is a centrally defined framework and process designed to shape how
schools operate.
These points were echoed in the interviews we conducted. For example, an MOE official, in
discussing issues of financial decentralization, observed that “the regulations of expenditures… the
documentation [requirements], and a lack of trust… make it difficult for the implementers of the
change” (interview, Mustafa Abdel Samie, February 18, 2008). The existing policy constraints on
decentralization were also mentioned by two Egyptians who have worked for USAID: “It will take a
long time to change all the rules and regulations… so that Ministry and the governorates and the
idarras
and everybody can take appropriate actions, to hire the right people, to reward good
performance” (interview, Hala El Serafy , February 18, 2008); and although “there is a drift toward
decentralization, there actually is so much centralization in finance… If we look behind every law
and every policy, it is centralized” (interview, Mona Zikri, February 18, 2008).
Interviewees called attention to issues of institutional and individual capacity (knowledge,
skill, and attitudes) as well as institutional and policy framework. For instance, a long-serving
Minister of Education (1991–2004) focused on central ministry personnel: “I have to presume that
there were some people who were not ready [to give up their authority]. But [progress can be made]
by convincing these people, by raising their awareness, by proving to them that… they are not…
delegating authority to nothing” (interview, Hussein Kamal Bahaa El Din, February 16, 2008). And
three other ministry officials and an Egyptian staff member of USAID/Egypt shared their views on
the limitations on decentralization posed by central and local personnel’s capacity. One stated that “I
think there are many challenges [to decentralization]. The culture should also be subjected to
change… People at the local level are afraid to make individual [versus]… collective action… how
to be involved, to participate in the school… how to support their own future… At the higher levels
people don’t want to decentralize… and even governors view decentralization as mainly about
giving them more power… I see this as form of re-centralization” (interview, Hassan El Bilawi,
February 15, 2008). A second commented that “even if the Minister of Education announced that
there is no more centralization, the… managers of schools, the principals… are afraid to use their
[power]… They still like to ask the central ministry about everything [to get approval]… Now the
governors should take a role and do their assignment, be responsible for decentralization. But also
Reforming Educational Governance and Management in Egypt
37
they usually ask the Minister… to know what they should do” (interview, Mustafa Abdel Samie,
February 8, 2008). The third expressed that “what is happening is we’re a culture that is very much
prone to ‘right and wrong’ and you can’t do that with decentralization. You have to support people
to help them understand their role… [in] a friendly context, supportive context… to let them make
mistakes along the way.… None of those… are in the place where people will delegate authority. If
you look behind any decisions, you will still find the Pharoh” (interview, Mona Zikri, February 17,
2008). And the fourth confided, “to be frank with you, Egypt all during its history has been a
centralized country… So, we used to worship our Pharoh and we treated him like god. So today
when the President says something, we obey” (interview, Nadia Gamal El Din, May 4, 2008).
In terms of community participation, the 1980s witnessed no significant laws or decrees
being issued. However, in 1993 and 1998 Ministerial Decrees enabled local school community
parent-teacher councils (PTCs) to raise funds and participate in aspects of school governance,
including monitoring educational quality. A 1999 Law established an NGO Department in the
MOE, enabling NGO involvement in education, though restricting “political” activity. After the
1999 Law was ruled unconstitutional, a 2002 Law concerning NGOs was passed, allowing NGOs to
receive funds from Egyptian and non-Egyptian sources. After reform projects helped activate
boards of trustees (BOTs), Ministerial Decrees in 2005 and 2006 sought to specify membership,
responsibilities, and authority of the BOTs and PTCs.
Parental and community involvement increased during this period, particularly at the school
level in relation to project-supported activities, but also at the
idarra
,
muddiriya
, and national levels.
According to an Egyptian staff member of USAID and the World Bank, “As for community
[participation], we knew that there was the Community Schools [project] coming on board [in
1992]… However, there wasn’t much community involvement.… The first time I started hearing
about community schools was in 1998, 1999… [W]ith the community we are talking about…
changes of attitude and changes in culture; we’re not talking about changes in the law. So, I think
that there has been a lot of mobilization on the part of all projects… and a new relationship has
been forged between communities and schools… where projects are operating.… [However,] when
we started [CIDA-funded STEP2 project] in 2005, we did not find [a strong] relationship between
the schools and communities [where] we began to work” (interview, Mona Zikri, February 17,
2008).
Financial Resource Capacity and Political Will
The financial resource aspect of the institutional dimension is generally viewed as positively
related to leaders’ political will to implement reform—i.e., greater resources enhance and reflect
greater political will to undertake reforms.
51
Two interviewees (one who worked in the MOE and the
other in USAID/Egypt) express their agreement with this point. One said, “I’m optimistic [about
future prospects for decentralization], but we need two things:… a large budget… [and] the
commitment/consciousness of the people in the field and the public… [i.e.,] the political will”
(interview, Mustafa Abdel Samie , February 8, 2008). The other noted, “You can’t just decentralize
without support… and without building a culture of accountability. You need well-designed policy
decisions, you need finance. But I don’t think any of these are in place” (interview, Mona Zikri,
February 17, 2008). Furthermore, another Egyptian staff member of USAID/Egypt suggests that
since 2000 there has been a high degree of political will:
51
Note that here we discuss political will in relation to two other factors, financial resource capacity and
civil society’s role. Moreover, we are subsuming the leadership factor under political will.
Education Policy Analysis Archives Vol. 18 No. 5
38
I guess what’s happening now has never happened before. This is first time that
not only the Minister of Education or one governor or two are thinking of
[reform] ideas… It’s the whole… country.… I can tell you why I’m very
optimistic. One thing, the [National Democratic Party (NDP)] and even other
parties are in line with this new policy of decentralization. (interview, Hala El
Serafy, February 18, 2008)
In the case of Egypt, however, a negative relationship between resources and reform
efforts was also an important part of the picture. That is, the political will of central authorities
to promote decentralization and community participation was in part influenced by limitations
of resources. Indeed, this appears to be the case in earlier years when the central authority
pursued reform initiatives (e.g., the 1883 provincial councils statute, the 1939 zones decree, and
the 1960 Local Administrative Law; see Ibrahim & Hozayn, 2006). From the beginning of his
presidency, in 1981, Mubarak inherited financial challenges, which escalated by the early 1990s.
The Egyptian government’s financial resource capacity, moreover, was enhanced, but with
significant restrictions on public expenditure, when it negotiated a structural adjustment
program to obtain a loan from the World Bank. These fiscal challenges, exacerbated by
quantitative expansion of the education system, encouraged the Mubarak government to
experiment with laws and pilot project toward decentralizing responsibilities (if not authority)
and increasing community participation during this period. Relevant here are comments made
by an Egyptian who has worked for USAID/Egypt and the World Bank:
One other thing [I want to say] about decentralization… [and] community
participation. It seems to me like the government is [moving]… responsibilities…
out to the communities, civil society.… [and] the focus is only on a payment.…
The government is poor, so you pay.… It’s okay to have the civil society be a
partner to the government, but the public sector has a role, it cannot disappear…
And the civil society says, ‘Am I supposed to be paying for all of this?…What is
in it for me?’ And at the same time the government is making the policies, and
the civil society has no role in that. (interview, Mona Zikri, February 17, 2008)
Limitations in financial resources, however, seem to be a relatively constant feature of
the Egyptian scene, and thus cannot help us to understand the significant increase in efforts
toward decentralization and community participation that occurred in the early years of the 21
st
century. To understand this, more recent spike in political will and government activity we need
to consider an aspect of the political dimension, civil society’s role.
Civil Society’s Role and Political Will
Similar to the case of financial resources, one might assume a positive relationship between
the degree of mobilization of civil society and the political will of central authorities to promote
reform. And, indeed, such a relationship between civil society’s will (and capacity) and reform was
noted by the long-serving Minister of Education (1991–2004):
I… perceived… problems in education in Egypt.… I think that we [those in the
Ministry] have done a good job.… But… it is easy to make a decision, it is easy to
put a correct structure [in place],… but the most difficult is to change
attitudes.… To succeed in decentralization, you have to have power in local
people. You have to train them and you have to raise them to standards in which
Reforming Educational Governance and Management in Egypt
39
you are confident that you are delegating power to at least as efficient as you are.
(interview, Hussein Kamal Bahaa El Din, February 16, 2008)
However, in the case of Egypt the more salient relationship is a negative one. That is,
despite clear financial needs, central authorities hesitated to foster decentralization and
community participation in education because the most organized and active segment of civil
society were groups identified as radical Islamists, with whom the government was engaged in
(sometimes violent) conflict and competition for the “minds and souls” of the citizenry. Recall
that Mubarak became president following Sadat’s assassination and encountered an increasingly
violent struggle with certain radical Islamists (at least until 1997) but he also faced a growing
political challenge by individual members of the Muslim Brotherhood and other nonviolent
radical Islamist groups who provided social services to local communities and served as
candidates or voted for them in elections for the People’s Assembly, for example. Thus, while
some limited moves toward decentralization and community participation in the 1990s were
framed in terms “democratization” and improving quality, central authorities referenced
“national security” in explaining their ambivalence to implementation of such reforms as well as
their direct actions to limit local initiative (e.g., purging of educators and curricular materials, or
enacting the school uniform law). As one MOE official expressed it: “I think that the growing
up of the Muslim Brotherhood [and other radical Islamist groups],… presented a danger,
because having decentralization with such people… they can use democracy, but… they abuse
it… as happened in Iran,… in Algeria… also Hamas [in Palestine]. So, election is not
democracy… [which] means freedom and supporting the individual to say what he wants”
(interview, Hassan El Bilawi, February 15, 2008).
The non-aggression pact negotiated between the Egyptian government and certain violent
radical Islamist groups after the attack on tourists in Luxor in 1997 seems to be one of the major
explanations for the take-off in reform efforts fostering educational governance and management
reform (i.e., decentralization and community participation). Also, it is important to note that the
Egyptian government had “purged” from the schools thousands of educators suspected of having
ties to—and seeking to carrying out the agenda of—radical Islamist groups, and thus the school-
communities might be perceived as less threatening to the government and ruling party. At the same
time, however, the struggle for political control in Egypt continued, with Muslim Brotherhood and
other radical Islamist group supporters achieving a sizeable minority in the People’s Assembly in
2006. However, after the 1997 settlement, the ruling National Democratic Party and the Egyptian
government apparently perceived themselves to be in a more viable position to promote reforms.
Therefore, while not ignoring “security” issues, the government pursued strategies to enhance its
legitimacy within communities—providing more and better educational services and encouraging
active participation of at least certain individuals and groups.
52
The following excerpt from an
interview with a Ministry of Education official signals this change in the political environment:
MG
: Is the issue of [radical] Islamist… groups still a big issue in Egypt?
Interviewee:
No, no, no, no, no.
MG
: When did that change?
Interviewee
: Well, it goes through many channels… 1) the security system;…
2) raising consciousness of people through the churches, mosques, and so on;
52
On the compensatory legitimation function of decentralization and community participation reforms,
see Weiler (1989).
Education Policy Analysis Archives Vol. 18 No. 5
40
and 3) using schools as centers of raising consciousness… to elaborate new ideas,
elaborate critical thinking of students and parents…
MG:
And do you think this new atmosphere makes it easier to give more
authority to the schools and to decentralize?
Interviewee
: Yes, yes, yes
,
in addition to the Ministry’s efforts to train
managers… especially in the interpersonal skills, not just managerial skills…
(interview, Mustafa Abdel Samie, February 8, 2008)
Importantly, the idea of providing “relevant” and “needed” educational and other social
services to communities as part of a strategy to weaken the perceived threat of Muslim
Brotherhood and radical Islamist groups, whose base was built through provision of such
services, also resonated with multilateral and bilateral development agencies.
Global Dynamics and International Organizations
The above discussion, framed around national institutional and political dimensions, portrays
Egypt in relative isolation from the international and global developments. However, as an example,
we need to factor in Egypt’s relations with Israel (linked to the Israeli-Palestinian struggle).
Mubarak’s presidential period began approximately two years after the Camp David peace accord
between Israel and Egypt. As with previous wars with Israel (e.g., 1948, 1954, and 1967), the 1973
war took a toll of human life but also negatively impacted Egypt’s economic situation, including
funds available to increase access to and quality of education. The peace accord opened
opportunities for international development agency support, but it also added fuel to the conflict
between the Egyptian government and radical Islamist groups. Similarly, Egypt’s key political role in
support of the U.S.-led war on Iraq in 1991 enabled Egypt to receive debt forgiveness and financial
aid from international organizations as well as to a heightening of conflict between the Egyptian
government and radical Islamist groups.
Because of educational, political, and economic developments within Egypt, but also
because of global developments during this period, Egypt has been a major recipient of foreign
assistance. This involves the role played by international (multilateral and bilateral) agencies as well
as international NGOs, both in circulating ideas and building capacity (through funding, technical
assistance, and training). We should mention, among others, the role played by UNESCO,
UNICEF, and UNDP assessments, conferences, and projects; World Bank reports and loan-funded
projects; the European Union’s funded projects; and USAID studies and funded projects. The 1990,
intergovernmental agency-organized World Conference on Education for All (EFA) and, perhaps
more so, the Dakar EFA Conference in 2000 served as catalysts of ideas and actions for educational
reform, including undertaking reforms in governance and management (i.e., decentralization and
community participation) to improve educational quality. And UNICEF’s and CIDA’s Community
Schools project (1992–2004) functioned as a lighthouse signaling how educators and community
members in local communities could effectively take on responsibilities for establishing and
managing educational institutions. And UNDP (in collaboration with the Institute for National
Planning in Egypt) offered annual (2000-present) critiques of and encouragements for the Egyptian
government’s efforts to increase decentralization and community participation. The (basic)
Education Enhancement (1996–2004) and the Secondary Education Enhancement (1999–2004)
projects, funded through World Bank loans, are also notable.
However, we must be careful not to represent the relationship between these organizations
and Egypt in a simplistic, one-way imposition model. For instance, an MOE official criticized such
impositions: “We called for a donor basket… but they [the donors] refused it… The Ministry of
Reforming Educational Governance and Management in Egypt
41
International Cooperation asked to use [extra money from an existing loan project] for technical
education, but the World Bank said ‘No,… you have to spend it on [general] secondary education’”
(interview, Mustafa Abdel Samie, February 8, 2008). And, similarly, another MOE official stated that
sometimes an international organization-funded “expert decides to apply [in Egypt] an idea…—
something like decentralization –… [without] looking at the reality of the time or the reality of the
society itself” (interview, Nadia Gamal El Din, May 4, 2008). However, other MOE officials referred
to a more supportive role of international organizations, for example, as providing “windows to be
engaged with international trends” (interview, Hassan El Bilawi, February 15, 2008) or as “backing
[of actions taken by the MOE] by the international community;… they were willing to help me, but
without any pressure” (interview, Hussein Kamal Bahaa El Din, February 16, 2008). There were also
references to occasions when Egyptian officials were proactive in trying to shape the agendas of
international organizations, even while being influenced by their policies. A former USAID/Egypt
staff member commented that “Minister of Education Ahmed Fathy Sorour attended the Jomtiem,
Thailand World Conference on Education for All, and he spoke about the progress that was being
made in Egypt. Coming back from the conference, the Minister had a head of steam” (interview,
Jerry Wood, January 9, 2008). And a former Minister of Education explained that “the World Bank
at that time was even putting ceilings on the spending in education. And this was the reason… that I
[as the Egyptian Government representative] put a resolution, in front of the summit meeting [of
non-aligned nations], that the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund should not put a
ceiling on education. And this was adopted by the summit” (interview, Hussein Kamal Bahaa El
Din, February 16, 2008).
As a bilateral aid organization, USAID played a prominent role in relation to the Egyptian
government’s reform agenda. During the 1980s USAID/Egypt mainly worked with the central
government, seeking to reorganize and strengthen the MOE, while also providing funding for
school construction, which involved some local actors. In the 1990s USAID/Egypt mainly funded
projects focused on teacher training, again working primarily with central authorities though focused
on building capacity of school-level personnel. During this period, the one planned USAID/Egypt
initiative that would operate at the sub-national level—and primarily outside the management and
governance formal education sectors—was rejected by the Minister in 1996. Within a few years,
however, the same Minister agreed to similar, sub-nationally organized projects (though mainly
focused on formal education)—the New School Program (2000–2008), the Alexandria Pilot Project
(2002–2004), and the Education Reform Program (2004–2009). Each project both reflected and also
contributed to the growing political will
and capacity of actors at various levels of the education
system and in the community toward implementing decentralization and community participation.
53
This could also be characterized as a mutually reinforcing relationship between provision of
resources by international organizations and the political will of government officials, with
international funding at times being dependent on demonstrated political will and political will at
times being enhanced through internationally funded initiatives.
Interviewees had somewhat differing perspectives on the nature of the influence of bilateral
organizations like USAID on Egyptian educational policy and practice. According to one former
USAID/Egypt staff member, the extent of decentralization evident in Egypt in the education sector
prior to 2000 was “zero.… Everything had to come from the central Ministry.… When we [USAID]
started talking with the governors, we started being able to get things done. When we talked with the
district officers, we knew that we had governors’ backing” (interview, Sally Patton, June 18, 2008).
53
One can observe how the global level developments connect to the national level factors of political
will and institutional capacity.
Education Policy Analysis Archives Vol. 18 No. 5
42
However, another former USAID/Egypt staff member indicated that “the whole agenda of
decentralization… was in the 1980s… related to local government. And the Presidential Decree
[allocating authority to governors]… I don’t know what the driver was, but it was way before we
[USAID staff members] were talking about decentralization of education” (interview, Mona Zikri,
February 17, 2008).
Particularly in the case of USAID projects, one has to consider the role played in educational
reform in Egypt by international NGOs (e.g., Academy for Educational Development, Aguirre
International, American Institutes for Research, CARE, Creative Associates, Education
Development Center, Research Triangle Institute). Some of these NGOs have operated in Egypt
since the early 1980s, being contracted by USAID/Egypt to conduct studies/assessment, provide
technical assistance, organize in-country and overseas training activities. The various Egyptian and,
in smaller numbers, non-Egyptian staff and consultants hired by these organizations have certainly
helped to develop the knowledge and skill of MOE personnel and community members.
Importantly, at least for the Egyptians, many continued to contribute after their employment on a
particular project, either by working on another project, by forming/joining a local NGO that
worked with the government, or by becoming (perhaps again) an MOE staff member.
This latter point is a good reminder that although we have documented the role played by
international actors and other developments within the world system, it should be clear that
international encouragement and pressures toward decentralization and community participation
have only recently yielded what appear to be significant movements in this direction. Earlier
“interventions” in this regard in Egypt may have been less effective because they were less concerted
and sometimes contradictory, or it may be that time was required for the contributions to
accumulate. However, it is also clear that national as well as local actors, and their relationships
(collaborative and conflict-laden), are an important part of the above-told story of reforming
governance and management in Egypt.
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About the Authors
Mark Ginsburg
is a senior technical advisor for research and evaluation at the Academy for
Educational Development (USA) and coeditor of the
Comparative Education Review
. He
previously was a faculty member at the University of Aston in Birmingham (England, 1976–
1978), the University of Houston (Texas, USA, 1978–1987), and the University of Pittsburgh
(Pennsylvania, USA, 1987–2004). He directed the Faculties of Education Reform project of the
USAID-funded Educational Reform Program in Egypt (2004–2006). He has published
extensively on topics of policy/institutional reform, teachers/teacher education, and
policy/practice-oriented research and evaluation. Email:
mginsburg@aed.org
Nagwa Megahed
is an Assistant Professor at Ain Shams University in Egypt. She is currently a
Fulbright Scholar-in-Residence for Middle Eastern Cultural and Language Studies at the
University of Southern Mississippi. Prior to that, she worked as a Senior Technical Advisor for
Research and Evaluation at USAID-Funded Education Reform Program in Egypt in
cooperation with Michigan State University and the Academy for Educational Development.
She received her Ph.D. from the University of Pittsburgh, where she also served as a Graduate
Student Researcher in the Institute for International Studies in Education, working on projects
related to educational reform and teacher education. She has published articles and book
chapters on the reform of educational policy and practices, teacher education and work, gender
inequality, and Islam and education.
Mohammed Elmeski
is a Ph.D. student in the Comparative and International Education
Program, Department of Educational Policy and Administration, College of Human
Development and Education, University of Minnesota-Twin Cities. A Moroccan, he has taught
Arabic and English as a Second Language. His research interests include educational policy,
complementary education, and girls’ education.
Nobuyuki Tanaka
is a Ph.D. candidate at Graduate School of International Cooperation
Studies, Kobe University (Japan) and a consultant for the World Bank (USA). His dissertation
topic is access and equity of higher education in Egypt. He previously was field researcher and
project coordinator at Mitsubishi Research Institute (Egypt, 2008–2009), and a visiting scholar
at the Academy for Educational Development (USA, 2007–2008). He has published on topics of
education and labor market. He also has several field experiences such as Ghana and Yemen.
Reforming Educational Governance and Management in Egypt
51
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Number 5
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, 2010
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SUNY Buffalo
* Members of the New Scholars Board
Reforming Educational Governance and Management in Egypt
53
archivos analíticos de políticas educativas
consejo editorial
Editor:
Gustavo E. Fischman
(Arizona State University)
Editores. Asociados
Alejandro Canales
(UNAM) y
Jesús Romero Morante
(U. Cantabria)
Armando Alcántara Santuario
Instituto de
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Educación, UNAM
México
Fanni Muñoz
Pontificia Universidad Católica
de Perú
Claudio Almonacid
Universidad Metropolitana
de Ciencias de la Educación, Chile
Imanol Ordorika
Instituto de Investigaciones
Economicas – UNAM, México
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Universidad de Murcia,
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Maria Cristina Parra Sandoval
Universidad de
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Universitat de Girona, España
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Universidad de Granada,
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Universidad Diego
Portales, Chile
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Universidad Nacional de San
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Instituto Nacional
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UNESCO, Francia
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Norte, Chile
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Universidad Nacional
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Instituto de
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Educación, UNAM
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Universidad Juárez
Autónoma de Tabasco, México
José Luis San Fabián Maroto
Universidad de
Oviedo
Francisco F. García Pérez
Universidad de
Sevilla, España
Yengny Marisol Silva Laya
Universidad
Iberoamericana
Edna Luna Serrano
Universidad Autónoma de
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Aida Terrón Bañuelos
Universidad de Oviedo,
España
Alma Maldonado
Departamento de
Investigaciones Educativas, Centro de
Investigación y de Estudios Avanzados,
México
Jurjo Torres Santomé
Universidad de la
Coruña, España
Alejandro Márquez Jiménez
Instituto de
Investigaciones sobre la Universidad y la
Educación, UNAM
México
Antoni Verger Planells
University of
Amsterdam, Holanda
José Felipe Martínez Fernández
University of
California Los Angeles, U.S.A.
Mario Yapu
Universidad Para la Investigación
Estratégica, Bolivia
Education Policy Analysis Archives Vol. 18 No. 5
54
arquivos analíticos de políticas educativas
conselho editorial
Editor:
Gustavo E. Fischman
(Arizona State University)
Editores Associados:
Rosa Maria Bueno Fisher
e
Luis A. Gandin
(Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul)
Dalila Andrade de Oliveira
Universidade
Federal de Minas Gerais, Brasil
Jefferson Mainardes
Universidade Estadual
de Ponta Grossa, Brasil
Paulo Carrano
Universidade Federal
Fluminense, Brasil
Luciano Mendes de Faria Filho
Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais,
Brasil
Alicia Maria Catalano de Bonamino
Pontificia Universidade Católica-Rio,
Brasil
Lia Raquel Moreira Oliveira
Universidade
do Minho, Portugal
Fabiana de Amorim Marcello
Universidade Luterana do Brasil, Canoas,
Brasil
Belmira Oliveira Bueno
Universidade de
São Paulo, Brasil
Alexandre Fernandez Vaz
Universidade
Federal de Santa Catarina, Brasil
António Teodoro
Universidade Lusófona,
Portugal
Gaudêncio Frigotto
Universidade
do Estado do Rio de Janeiro, Brasil
Pia L. Wong
California State University
Sacramento, U.S.A
Alfredo M Gomes
Universidade Federal de
Pernambuco, Brasil
Sandra Regina Sales
Universidade Federal
Rural do Rio de Janeiro, Brasil
Petronilha Beatriz Gonçalves e Silva
Universidade Federal de São Carlos,
Brasil
Elba Siqueira Sá Barreto
Fundação Carlos
Chagas,
Brasil
Nadja Herman
Pontificia Universidade
Católica –Rio Grande do Sul, Brasil
Manuela Terrasêca
Universidade do Porto,
Portugal
José Machado Pais
Instituto de Ciências
Sociais da Universidade de Lisboa,
Portugal
Robert Verhine
Universidade Federal da
Bahia, Brasil
Wenceslao Machado de Oliveira Jr.
Universidade Estadual de Campinas,
Brasil
Antônio A. S. Zuin
Universidade Federal de
São Carlos, Brasil
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