*** Egyptian education schools British protectorate

Egyptian Education Chronology: British Protectorate (1882-1922)

Islamic madreassa

Figure 1.--This photograph shows the older students in an Islamic madreassa. The photograph was taken by G. Lekegian. It was probably taken in the 1880s or 90s. The interesting thing is that it could have been taken centuries earlier and it would not have looked differently. The schools stressed memorization and recitation of the Koran.

Egypt after the construction of the Suze Canal became one of the strategically most important countries in the world. The British as a result, established a protectorate (1882). As Egypt was not a colony, Egyptians retained responsibility for local government, including education. This meant there was still very limited public education through the first half of the 20th century. There is a tendency in the Arab world to blame problems on the relatively brief European colonial era. So we see comments like, "The British protectorate in Egypt left an exclusionary, state-controlled education system structured to serve elite (British) interests with little concern for the masses. The heritage was one of restricted opportunity, unenforced limited education (generally of poor quality), and higher education reserved mostly for the elite. Egyptians and non-English foreigners were left few options but to expand private and religious education." While in part factually correct, statements like this suggest that the British actively restricted educational oppoertunity. This is not the case. It is true that the state education system was not expanded to the rural poor. But it is also true that there were more modern schools when the Britisdh left than before. The British did not impede the Egyptian Government from building schools. This was a decesion taken by Egyptian authorities. Egypt's poor education system was primarily inherited from the khedicate, not created by the British. There were numerous private schools opened. This included Egypt's first secular university. The failure to expand the state education system related to Egypt's economic limitations and lack of interest on the part of Egyptian leaders and not on British policies. In addition, Islamic education continued virtually unchanged from medieval times. The British critics suggests thst they were responsible for expaning Islamic education. We are unsure about this. Perhaps our Egyptian readers will know more.


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Created: 2:51 AM 9/12/2010
Last updated: 2:51 AM 9/12/2010