CAIRO: While a lot of changes have been implemented to improve Egypt’s education system over the past five years, there are still challenges, namely the lack of civic society engagement, said Minister of Higher Education Hani Helal.
Helal’s was speaking at an American University in Cairo (AUC) press conference on Monday titled “Tadamunn: Towards Civic Engagement in Arab Education. The conference was also attended by AUC President David Arnold and representatives of universities locally and in the region.
Mohamed Ibrahim, founder of Celtel and the Mo Ibrahim Foundation, which awards African executive head of states or government officials for demonstrating excellence in leadership and governance, was the keynote speaker at the conference.
“Our society has been waiting for this for a long time, Ibrahim said during his inaugural speech.
According to Helal, Egyptian universities are focusing on three main issues: “education, research and service to society.
“The role of the media and awareness of civil society’s engagement in education is very important … and its most important to get people altogether [involved in education as a cause], Helal added.
To promote the concept of civic engagement in the education system, we have to have “the media on board to also get us to know what the market needs, he said, stressing the need of innovative ideas.
On the other hand, Ibrahim said that most academic institutions do not give enough attention to non-academic activities.
According to Ibrahim, non-academic activities are needed most in our “part of the world where democracy is not that fantastic.
Civic engagement in education should start with what he described as “small and innocent projects.
“We can start by a campaign titled ‘do not beat up your mother,’ then another one titled ‘do not beat up your wife’ and then later generalize the campaign to be ‘do not beat up anyone’, Ibrahim added.
Ibrahim spoke of the “challenges of engaging the private sector in the region in the educational system.
In Africa, he said, “we do not have similar examples to that of the USA where businessmen engage in building and supporting the educational system.
Developing governance in Africa should be the focus, he said, “I happen to believe that good governance is a precondition to development in any field.