Giving Education New Colors

NGOs in Egypt Allow Students to Experience Non-traditional Education
Alwan wa Awtar applies modern methods in education with the aim of attracting the attention of children to improve their educational skills through art, photography, observation and critical thinking

Some civil society and non-governmental associations in Egypt are seeking to make the learning process untraditional for children and young people, separate from the traditional methods of education which are practiced at governmental and private schools.

Among those associations are Alwan wa Awtar (A&A) and Safarni, which apply modern methods in education with the aim of attracting the attention of children to improve their educational skills through art, photography, observation and critical thinking.

The board chairwoman of Alwan and Awtar association, Azza Kamel, said that .we offer artistic and non-formal educational activities to children and youth in different urban and rural community areas.”

Kamel said that the aim of the association, based in the Mokattam area in western Cairo, is “to enrich our beneficiaries’ social and cultural wellbeing as well as encourage them to make the best use of their genius, for the sake of the development of themselves and their communities.”

Kamel told this magazine that Alwan wa Awtar has drawn up a program for young people to shape their prospects through professional and soft skill development, safe learning space and non-formal education.

A safe learning environment, flexible learning techniques, performing arts in education and participatory management are key approaches for the success of children during study, Kamel said.

TRAVEL FOR STUDENTS

Meanwhile, the Safarni organization, based in Cairo, focuses on opening children's minds to other cultures. Safarni workshops take children on an imaginary journey to new countries, where they are introduced to the local language, food, games, dances and songs. They have the opportunity to meet new people from this country, and interact with them through playing, dancing, and sharing. These journeys open new horizons in the children’s minds and encourage respect for all human beings and cultures.

Safarni has done more than 200 travel days, visiting countries from all around the world.

Safarni dreams of a generation that is globally aware, inclusive, curious and loving, a generation that feels connected to diversity and friendship.

The government has regularly sought to develop the basic education system in Egypt to ensure better learning and skills acquisition.

Unifying values. Students attend a class at the Talaat Harb governme nt primary school in the popular district of Shubra in Cairo. (AP)

Ali Nagui, a Professor of Physical Education at the Faculty of Education, Benha University, stressed the importance of instilling the values of learning to replace the “traditional ideology that reduced the learning process to simply getting a certificate.”

"There is an urgent need for community dialogue and surveys in the field of education development with a focus on discovering and nurturing talents, as the skilled students are the nation’s engine of progress," Nagui told Majalla.

Nagui said that the government should pay more attention to improving the financial and social status of teachers, as they are the cornerstone of the education process.

In the same vein, he spoke about the necessity of physical education to develop the cognitive skills of pupils, especially in early stages.

Physical education provides cognitive content and instruction designed to develop motor skills, knowledge, and behaviors for physical activity and physical fitness.

"Supporting schools to establish physical education daily can provide students with the ability and confidence to be physically active for a lifetime," he said.

The government is keen on developing youth’s innovative capabilities across the country within the framework of localizing the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and Egypt's Vision 2030, Nagui went on to say.

Proper physical education at schools should involve checkups, nutritional guidance and developing the body with the aim of enhancing performance in class and behavior in public life, as well as encouraging teamwork and social interaction, Nagui told this magazine.

In the meantime, he referred to the Education Ministry’s strategy to develop the technical education sector with the aim of transforming its curricula to a system based on the skills acquired by the graduate so that they can meet the needs of the labor market, in addition to presenting the experience of applied technology schools.

"The latest educational upheavals are part of the state’s major national projects that seek to restore Egypt’s pioneering global status as well as its soft power across the Middle East and Africa," Abdullah Mukhtar, a Professor of Curricula and Methods of Teaching at 6th October University, told Majalla.

Mukhtar highlighted the praise of a number of global educational institutions on the Egyptian experience regarding revamping the education system over the past few years.

He said that more attention should be attached to overhaul the defects of the educational system, stressing the need to rally efforts and join hands to overcome challenges and achieve the best solutions for problems facing the educational process in government-run schools and universities.

GOVERNMENT EFFORTS

The State seeks to develop the education system and overcome several challenges it faces, according to an ambitious plan that aims to raise the efficiency of schools, integrate modern technology into the education process. He said that the Ministry of Education should work more and exert extra efforts to revamp curricula and adopt new education systems that focus on developing students’ skills, he told this paper.

Egypt went from the 72nd position to 53rd place in the 2021 Global Knowledge Index (GKI), coming in first among African states, according to a recent report by the Cabinet media center.

Egypt also advanced three positions in the education ranking issued by US News, in which it came 39th in the 2021 report, compared to 42nd in the 2020 report.

The report noted that Egypt moved up 12 places in the technical education and vocational training index within the Global Knowledge Index. It came 68th in the 2021 report compared to 80th in the 2020 report.

The Index measures global knowledge as a comprehensive concept closely related to sustainable development and the various dimensions of contemporary human life.

Egyptian students are seen at the garden of a primary school. (AFP)

According to education expert Mohamed Habib, the topography of the basic education and higher education system in Egypt has been “evolving” for the past two decades, with a big push for a major overhaul during the past few years.

This, he said, had been all but inevitable, necessary, and overdue, either because new disciplines had to be introduced or because modern ways of teaching needed to be adopted to help graduates properly set out in an advancing, highly competitive, and extremely demanding labor market.

Today, he said, there is a wide range of higher education options in the country available through 25 public universities, 27 private universities, as well as two universities established by agreements with foreign governments, viz., the American University in Cairo, and the Egypt Japan University of Science and Technology.

“The political leadership in Egypt was of the opinion that partnering one way or another with reputable foreign schools and universities could help with upgrading the quality of education. In parallel, there has been a consolidated effort to diversify the options of higher education,” Habib said.

He said that teachers are the mainstay for developing education. Hence the Ministry of Education is continuously paying more attention to training teachers on the new educational system to guarantee success. Habib hailed TV educational channels, describing them as a useful tool to help students and teachers understand the scientific materials.


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