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Digitalizing, Deskilling, and Edu 2.0: The Politics of the New Education Reform in Egypt

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posted on 2023-07-18, 16:13 authored by RISE AdminRISE Admin, Communications Development Incorporated
Most countries in the world have declared a commitment to improving educational quality and learning, but few have adopted and implemented the required reforms. Poor learning and poor literacy have become endemic in developing countries, including the Arab region. Egypt in particular has suffered from this assessment. Despite being a regional center for learning throughout most of the 20th century, the quality of education in Egypt has been in continuous decline over the previous decades. Various indicators of learning and equity have been declining even as the system grew steadily to accommodate more than 24 million students. These failures have culminated in Egypt’s ranking as the second to last country in the world in student reading abilities in the international PIRLS assessment in 2016. Since then, Egypt has embarked once more on a comprehensive reform program, Edu 2.0, that aims to reverse this decline and raise the quality of learning. In particular, the new reforms attempt to address the problems of rote learning in outdated curricula and obsolete assessment methods in general secondary. The key reform measures relate to the curriculum, teacher career paths, digital learning, and assessment. Apart from the absence of robust channels for influencing policy, disproportionate attention to the concerns of private school students (10 percent of students) and exams affecting the privileged academic track of general secondary (8 percent of all students) has shaped the conceptualization and implementation of reforms. Key parameters such as international policy adoption, pervasive informality, and poor human resource management have all contributed to the learning crisis and the policies adopted to address it. Curricular reforms that seem promising in advancing learning, at least for the most privileged students, are deemed unlikely to change learning in the system as they do not address the fundamental challenges identified by experts and the literature, in terms of poor resources and very high teacher and classroom shortages. Assessment reforms in the early grades, whose basic orientation is welcomed by experts, also face significant resource limitations. Deskilling and digitalization-based reforms promoted as surpassing resource limitations and dependence on teachers are doing little to overcome the fundamental resource availability and distribution issues driving the learning crisis. Deskilling is the process of distancing teachers from decisionmaking about daily practices in the classroom and reducing them to using teaching materials and tools prepared centrally—while putting pressure on them to take on more administrative duties and extracurricular activities.1 Extensive institutional and resource management reforms are essential to the success of recent or future reforms launched by the Egyptian Ministry of Education.


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