The parliament rejected Sunday positive discrimination for Master’s degree and PhD holders in state job opportunities, among the discussion of the publicly debated civil service draft law, expected to soon undergo parliamentary voting.
The parliament is currently reviewing in detail all articles of the draft law. On Sunday, members of parliament agreed on a new article covering the hiring process of state employees to be based on competence.
The approved article stipulated that the hiring process must start with an open announcement made by the government, specifying the job requirements. Candidates must pass an exam supervised by the minister of the ministry where the job is offered.
According to a copy of the article published by state media, those who obtain the highest scores should be hired. However, in the event that a number of candidates are marked similarly high, an assessment committee will examine other requirements in order to decide. Those are, in order of importance, the highest grade in the degree required for the position, the highest degrees obtained, the earliest graduation year, and the eldest candidate.
According to state media reports, some MPs defended a proposal to prioritise higher-level degree holders in state job hiring in response to pressure from those individuals, who have been staging regular protests near the parliament demanding to be hired in the public sector.
However, such favouritism raised concerns of non-constitutionality inside the parliament. The constitution urges the state to guarantee equal chances between all citizens, without discrimination, and bans the use of favours and connections in the hiring process.
Yet, higher-level degree holders have claimed that the ideas of equal opportunity are not implemented and that there is still a great deal of hiring done upon connections. A coordinator of their groups, who spoke to Daily News Egypt Monday, accused the government of making “fake announcements” for job opportunities.
On the other hand, Hossam Qawish, spokesperson of the cabinet, told Daily News Egypt that the government already explained to the protesters that there are not enough positions to include all of them but rather that job opportunities depend on the needs of each ministry. “When there is availability, we make announcements, and a competition takes place ending in the selection of those most qualified,” he said.
But the coordinator, who preferred to speak on condition of anonymity, said many competitions are simply a facade and that most of the time the process is not even completed, resulting in the pervasive hiring through favours.
The new civil service law theoretically aims at reforming the state’s administrative bodies, by reducing corrupt practices such as unfair favouritism between employees amid an exaggerated number of positions which, in addition to being a costly burden to the state, are not effective.
Wael Tawfik, the coordinator of the Tadamon Coalition, an anti-civil service law group, saw that though the new amendments seem to guarantee equal chances, they may jeopardise the value attributed to higher-level degrees and higher levels of expertise.
“The hiring decision is still in the hands of some employees while the rules of hiring remain shaky and ineffective in reducing ungrounded favouritism. That way, if any candidate feels discriminated against they can legally appeal against their non-hiring based on concrete conditions,” Tawfik argued in comments to Daily News Egypt.
In other words, Tawfik differentiates between opposing positive discrimination for high degree holders and not taking them into account from the beginning in the process of job requirements, claiming it should be one of the assessment tools instead of excluding it.
In an example, Tawfik said that there could be points allocated to those degrees, others to years of experience, competence, and attended training courses, depending on the nature of the job.
The parliament rejected the civil service law while it passed more than 300 others during its January review of legislations issued by the state before its election. This decision was due to pressure from thousands of state employees who feared losing their jobs or possible decreases in their salaries based on undefined top-down policies.