The current European Union (EU) cooperation portfolio in pre-tertiary education includes several projects, as the EU provides a fund with a grant of €60m works on enhancing access for children to education and fighting child labour through improving the socio-economic conditions and rights of the poorest and most vulnerable segments of the population, according to head of the EU delegation to Egypt, ambassador Ivan Surkoš.
Surkoš said that this five-year project implemented by the World Food Programme until July 2019 provides incentives for the poorest families to keep sending children to school, targeting girls in particular.
“I am happy to say that we are supporting Egypt in improving the educational system, in order to have graduates who are capable of setting Egypt on the right path towards prosperity and sustainable development. Egypt has the largest education system in the Middle East and North Africa region with 20 million students (pre-tertiary education) and it is continuously growing due to strong demographic pressure and the high number of children entering the school system every year,” noted Surkoš, adding, “the EU is a strong supporter of the Egyptian education sector as a whole, and is focused on increasing access to it, its quality, and education for the most vulnerable children.”
Additionally, he pointed out that another project the EU is funding relates to increasing access to primary quality community-based education of children aged 6-14 and will contribute to improving the learning outcomes of the most vulnerable and socially excluded.
He revealed that this five-year programme, ending in 2020, is implemented by the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund with a budget of €30m.
He explained that the project will help set up 1,200 community schools (CSs) in disadvantaged Egyptian governorates with the lowest enrolment rates. These schools will target an estimated 30,000 out-of-school and most vulnerable children. The project will further equip 200 public schools for the inclusion of 6,000 children with disabilities. All children attending these 200 schools—about 100,000—will directly benefit from the improved quality of teaching and school environment.
“Lack of skilled labour is one of obstacles to business creation and operation. Thus, we are supporting the improvement of technical and vocational education and training in Egypt through the TVET II programme—implemented by the Ministry of Trade and Industry with a grant of €50m,” Surkoš said, adding, “the TVET II programme implementation period is from December 2014 until July 2021 and aims to improve and enhance the structure and performance of the TVET system and TVET delivery in Egypt to better respond to the new socio-economic needs, in particular, youth employability and increased competitiveness in the context of the country’s current and future development.”
For all ongoing programmes, the EU aligned them with the new 2.0 government’s reform strategy in education, which will start its implementation this school year, September 2018. The EU has engaged in a dialogue for further cooperation next year for helping the Ministry of Education in implementing the new education reform strategy 2.0. Reforming education becomes an urgent priority for Egypt to make education and training relevant to its economic prospects, as to which educated youth can be productive citizens, according to Surkoš.
Commenting on higher education in Egypt, he said that the EU supports Egyptian universities, higher educational institutions, and the youth through several actions under the big EU programme namely “Erasmus +.” In the last three years grant contracts of €31m have been signed with several Egyptian universities. “I have also previously referred to the cooperation in science and innovation through H2020 and PRIMA,” he added.