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By the Gazette Editorial Board

"It is a cultural battle that we should fight in order to achieve the rebuilding of the Egyptian citizen,” the Chancellor of Ain-Shams University, prof. Abdel-Wahab Ezzat, said in remarks he made the other day as he attended the Higher Council for Pre-University Education’s meeting that approved a set of strategic decisions to remold the education system. In itself, the council’s endorsement of these decisions is a concrete step forward by the highest specialised body along the path for putting in place the National Project for Education with the rebuilding of the Egyptian citizen as the aim of the grand plan.

A review of the conclusions of that meeting reveals that the matter is absolutely not limited to structural modifications but rather extends to bringing about an integrated set of the multiple components that are needed for the upbringing of well-educated, caring and knowledge-loving citizens. Education Minister Dr Tarek Shawki has even noted that the national project aims inter alia to recreate the Egyptian citizen’s skills for appreciation, consequently contributing to the improvement and refinement of public tastefulness. It may look simple on the face of it, but it is in fact an essential ingredient of cultural and societal advancement, given that true appreciation of arts and literature is ultimately conducive to the assertion of the society’s approaches to and understanding of life and the importance of improving the quality of life.

Foremost among the many advantages of the new national project is the gradual approach it adopts in achieving the remolding of the entire educational system. As of the new school year 2018-2019, the national project will take effect at the two levels of kindergarten and primary school grade I. And as it moves on, the project would reach its final stage of complete coverage of the pre-university education by the year 2030. It should not go unnoticed that it will be the same year for the completion of the Egypt 2030 Vision for realising the goals of sustainable development goals as so envisaged under both the national plan and the United Nations agenda for sustainable development.

Another equally valuable component of the national project is the introduction of a three-year evaluation system to replace the current reliance on third year examination results for granting the General Certificate of Secondary Education – the prerequisite for admission to universities and higher education institutes. By spreading the certificate’s qualification over three years instead of just one year, the national project is in fact lifting the heavy financial and psychological burdens that parents shoulder in trying to ensure the largest possible access by their sons and daughters to higher General Certificate marks. Abolishing what has for decades been called ‘the monster of parents’ is indeed a highly appreciable merit of the national project.

It will take twelve consecutive years for the national project to cover all stages of the education system, but it is worth it, and it is certainly plausible to let the new system mature gradually particularly given that education is an area of human development where natural growth is the most potent course and also given that many of the components of the present system of education have remained almost unchanged for quite a long time.