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Basic Education

Maadi STEM School for Girls student in chemistry lab
USAID helped establish two pilot Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) high schools in Cairo. Due to their success, the government is scaling up this model nationwide.
Thomas Christofoletti for USAID

Basic education is fundamental to economic opportunity and gender equality. With the largest school system in the Middle East (over 18 million students), Egypt provides near-universal access to primary education. Boys and girls attend school at nearly equal rates, and enrollment is rising steadily at both the intermediate and secondary levels.  However, rapid population growth has placed inordinate strain on the system. With one third of the population under the age of 15, the supply of schools and trained teachers simply cannot keep up. Moreover, instruction remains focused on helping students pass exams rather than on developing critical thinking and practical skills and virtually no primary school teachers have practical training before entering the classroom. 

To help Egypt cope with this explosive growth, USAID works with the Ministry of Education (MOE) to align its education system more closely with the needs of a modern economy. This includes improving the quality of teachers and supporting Egyptian government efforts to implement education programs that develop critical thinking and practical skills of primary and secondary school students. 

USAID worked with the MOE to improve reading and mathematics in primary schools nationwide. The MOE has demonstrated strong commitment to expand, across all of Egypt, a pilot USAID-funded Early Grade Reading Program. To support this expansion, USAID provided technical assistance to the MOE to build integral and sustainable early grade reading and math systems, with a focus on improving curriculum and materials, and strengthening teacher professional development. USAID is also helping the Ministry of Education to eradicate illiteracy amongst Egypt’s most vulnerable populations using an innovative intergenerational literacy approach for mothers and their primary school aged children. 

USAID is enhancing Egypt’s talent pool and competitiveness by piloting and expanding science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education in secondary schools. Two pilot STEM high schools that USAID helped establish in Cairo have been so successful that the government is scaling up this program nationwide and establishing STEM schools in all 27 governorates. For the 2016-2017 school year there were nearly 5,200 students from around the country that applied for approximately 1,000 places in the seven newly established STEM schools.   


Literate Village: The Literate Village is a four-year activity that aims to eradicate illiteracy in 2,000 villages in both Sohag and Beheira governorates. In the third year of the program, the Literate Village endeavors to expand the same model to an additional 150 villages in Assiut governorate. In addition, the project supports and strengthens community schools in these governorates to improve students learning and achievements. High priority is to be placed on poor villages with high illiteracy among mothers and large numbers of out of school or irregularly attending school children. Implementing Partner: Save the Children Federation, Inc.; Life of Project: March 2017-March 2021; Total USAID Funding: $17 million; Bilateral Agreement: Basic Education II. 

Early Grade Learning and Remedial Reading: This government to government activity focuses on early grade learning with the goal of supporting the implementation of Education Version 2.0 and ensuring that Egyptian students are able to learn the fundamental core skills of reading, comprehension, writing, mathematics, and English language by the end of their early primary school experience (grade 3). It will also provide remedial learning for students in grades 4-9 who have difficulties reading at grade level. The project will reach over 150,000 teachers and 7.2 million children in grades 1-9 in 17,000 schools nationwide. Over 100,000 teaching materials will be developed, including scripted lesson plans for teachers and books for learners. Support will also be given to the Ministry of Education to provide demand-driven early grade teacher training and implement decentralized planning and budgeting based on local needs and opportunities.  Implementing Partner: Ministry of Education; Life of Project: September 2017 – September 2021; Total funding: $15 million; Bilateral Agreement:  Basic Education II.     

Refugee Education: USAID and UNICEF announced a partnership to address Egypt’s ongoing refugee crisis, in line with the goals of the UN led “Refugee Resilience Response Plan” or 3RP.  The overall objective of this cutting-edge, two-year activity is to ensure that vulnerable refugee children and youth, including those from the host community in Egypt, have access to quality education services in a protective learning environment (formal and non-formal).  Professional development opportunities will be provided to over 8,000 Syrian and Egyptian youth and adolescents, and over 200 Ministry of Education staff will be trained to better address the needs of refugee and host community populations.  Implementing Partner: UNICEF:  Life of Project: 2017-2019; Total USAID Funding: $5 million.

Last updated: April 08, 2019

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