In some regions, non-state actors have had a long (colonial) tradition in the education system. Currently, probably due to failures of government-run infrastructures, a variety of new actors (business-oriented and non-profit, national and international) are coming into play. In some countries, the balance of public and private investment in the educational sector is tilted to an extent that is criticized as risking a devaluation of the national educational system. Can we observe (regional or even global) trends toward a hierarchization, privatization and commercialization of education for both the elites and the masses? How do liberalization discourses in other fields of society impact upon these developments and the corresponding norms and values? What is the role of religious entities in the educational sector?
The vast majority of Egyptian students attend public schools and free universal education remains a constitutionally enshrined right. However, 50-80% of students attend regular private tutoring in most subjects in a highly segregated system. This places a huge financial burden on households so that private spending on education now exceeds public spending. Despite this duplicated expenditure, most teachers remain grossly underpaid and the quality of schooling has declined to the extent that education is routinely declared ‘non-existent’ by Egyptians: mafeesh taleem.
The implications of this ‘privatization-by-tutoring’ do not only include poor quality, higher inequality and resource waste. The very content of youth schooling experiences has also been fundamentally altered. In addition to ‘teaching to the exam’ in key subjects, without attention to the actual development of knowledge and skills, there has been an effective elimination of the ‘activities’ subjects that not linked to student grades; such as music, sports, arts, theatre, civics and school trips. As students increasingly obtain their education on the market and attend school irregularly, this has led to the effective elimination of the school itself as a key arena for youth socialization and the production of nationhood, especially at the secondary level. The condition of public schooling therefore exemplifies the privatization, informalization and dysfunction of state institutions under Mubarak; whether as providers of social services or as sites for the production of citizenship.
In this brief presentation, my aim is to explain, through figures and data, and through live examples based on my fieldwork, what it actually means that, with 17 million students and 2 million employees, there is ‘no education’ in Egypt; and to bring to light the different manifestations of this educational dysfunction in a highly tracked and unequal system.
Research Project (to be discussed at the Winter Academy) by Marwa Schumann.
Marwa Schumann works as an instructor at the medical education department, faculty of medicine of the Alexandria University. She is currently researching gender inequalities in medical education.
Feminizations of medicine and gender inequality are paradoxical factors with an increasing influence on the field of surgery in general and orthopedic surgery in particular. The increased number of female medical students and graduates has led to a paradoxical shortage of orthopedic surgery residents; only a very small proportion of female graduates choose to become orthopedic surgeons. Reasons included female disinterest in orthopedics, the long working hours, increased physical demands, male domination and male nature of the field causing biases and stereotypes about and against women. Female exposure to negative attitudes discouraging them from choosing a specific “male-dominated” career show how education can function as means of reinforcing social and gender inequalities rather than correcting them.
Main objectives of the research are todetermine the gender influences on access to education and training of interns, to explore the motivations and expectations of a female intern training in the orthopedic surgery department and to explore the challenges facing the first female intern choosing orthopedic surgery training.
This is a qualitative study carried out within the framework of a narrative inquiry methodology where data is generated in the form of stories. It is situated in constructivist epistemology where knowledge is “socially constructed”. Purposeful sampling was carried out to conduct semi- structured interviews with the first female intern training in the orthopedic surgery department to explore her motivation, expectations, preparation and challenges she faced to get the approval for orthopedic training. A focus group discussion is chosen to elicit the attitudes of peers. Interviews and focus group discussions will be audio-recorded, transcribed, translated and analyzed.
Genderissues seem to affect the training and learning experience of house officers in general and those training in the surgery departments in particular. Sexism and negative attitudes towards women working as physicians in general and as surgeons in specific, act as barriers against achieving expected skills and competences. The hidden curriculum plays an important role in gender discrimination. Negative effects of gender discrimination among house officers extend beyond de-motivation of trainees and limiting the career choices to affect the quality and safety of healthcare provided. Equal training opportunities should be provided to medical interns regardless their gender.
Research Project (to be discussed at the Winter Academy) by Sarah Hartmann.
Sarah Hartmann is a doctoral candidate at the Berlin Graduate School Muslim Cultures and Societies at Freie Universität Berlin. Her research interests include youth, education and social class in the Arab World as well as anthropological and political science approaches to statehood and informality.
This PhD project explores the relationship between Egyptian citizens and the state through an analysis of the widespread practice of private tutoring for school students, i.e. by taking a closer look at the coexistence, interdependence and entanglement of formal institutions and informal practices in the Egyptian education sector. Based on 12 months of ethnographic fieldwork in Cairo in 2009-2010, it provides a detailed account and analysis of some of the institutions, actors, social relations, and discourses involved in the provision of supplementary tutoring for school students, with a special focus on tutoring centers in lower income neighborhoods of Cairo. Despite its socio-economic and political significance, no in-depth ethnographic study of this phenomenon has been undertaken so far. The project aims to contribute to current debates on statehood and informal institutions in anthropology and political science. While tutoring developed as a coping strategy to compensate for the deficiencies of an underfunded and overburdened public education system, a means for teachers to supplement their meager salaries, and a strategy for students and parents confronted with the pressures of a strongly examination-oriented education system, it has turned into a generalized and deeply engrained feature of Egyptian educational culture during the last decades, with social, economic and political effects and implications that go far beyond the teaching and learning process itself. The ideal of the welfare state is increasingly replaced by neoliberal values of entrepreneurship, consumerism, and the privatization of risk and responsibility, rendering access to education and other services dependent on the financial means of the individual.
Research Project (to be discussed at the Winter Academy) by Daniele Cantini.
Daniele Cantini is a senior research fellow at the research cluster “Society and Culture in Motion” at the Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg. His doctoral dissertation dealt with the Jordanian university system and its students. Currently, he is editing a volume on ethnographies of private universities.
This research takes the university as a vantage point to look at continuities and changes in the ways in which youth in Egypt and Jordan is socialized, citizenship is built, and differences are created and sustained. Both Egypt and Jordan witnessed a post-colonial nationalist and more or less socialist state, in which the function of the few state universities was clearly to serve the state in its efforts to modernise the country and its citizenry. This trajectory was ultimately altered in the ’90s, when the effects of the new international economic policies and the changes in the demographic composition of the countries contributed to erode the role of the state in providing employment and sense of belonging. These pushed for new directions in university policies–opening up to private universities, also of foreign origin, and partial privatizations within the public ones that were becoming less and less able to fulfil their roles. Through an ethnographic analysis of how the university concretely works, the project looks at this crucial institution to try to make sense of the most recent changes in its governance. Here the interest lies in understanding the different contexts, the local and the global, and their numerous intersections and conflicts. This project then looks at how all these affect the lives of youth. It explores in particular three dimensions of youth´s subjectivity, namely the political, the religious and the social (their place in the wider society as reproduced within the microcosm of the university campus and life).