And what is a better way to know more about the dynamics of education in Egypt than to listen to firsthand stories from people already on the scene? This is exactly what we were doing in the past month in class. Personally, it was indeed interesting to listen and meet with people from various backgrounds who each have their different visions on educational reforms. I was intrigued by each of their stories and every one of them gave me a new angle from which to consider the issue of education altogether.
Because I did not take extensive notes during the talks, my feedback may not be as inclusive. However, I will do my best to offer comments as useful as possible.
1.Yasser Youssif: I was interested in this talk because I wanted to know more about how he transitioned from the sphere of the public schools to the more private, or USAID funded one. He offered some interesting insights on the dynamics of public schools and what his experience was like.
2.Riham El Digwi: Her story was one of the most intriguing because until I heard about her experience in class, I had trouble imagining that change within the realm of public schools was even possible. Yet, with her perseverance, dedication, and intelligence, she managed to work the system and introduce significant change without overpowering or flipping over the system. She indeed faced many hardships and could have easily been discouraged by the bureaucratic and outdated educational system. Nevertheless, she never lost hope and continued to work for what she believed, despite all the obstacles she faced. Her story gave me hope that if one worked hard enough, one could certainly reach what he/she aspires to. I also learned that one does not have to have a big and unrealistic dream about change and then be upset that it did not happen, but rather to try to implement change on a small scale that would hopefully have a rippling effect later on.
3.Jim Wynn: Unfortunately, I was not present during this lecture.
4.Hossam Fahmy & Mahmoud Abdelaal: Their topic, namely technology in education, is one that is very relevant today. There has been this ongoing debate about the inclusion of technology in education and how beneficial it can be. Some claim that it could takes away of the teacher-student interaction and some say it augments the learning experience. The projects Fahmy & Abdelaal presented us with were indeed innovative and in my opinion, could leave a positive impact on the education scene in Egypt. Nevertheless, personally, I would be careful when it comes to technology in education because I believe it should not substitute the entire interaction between students and teachers not should the education entirely electronically based.
5.Mariam Aziz: Her energy and positivity in talking about what she loved to and what she was passionate about really moved me. The idea behind Injaz is creative and I am glad such an NGO exists in Egypt. The “Adopting A School” program especially intrigued me because it manages to involve the sometimes seemingly detached world of corporate with the community. Know more about INJAZ here.
6.Tarek Shawki & Hossam Badrawi: Hearing about how the policy making process goes from two experts who have been in the field for a long time was definitely beneficial. I got the feeling that they were indeed keen on introducing change. I really hope that the plans they discussed with us get implemented and we can see their positive impact on society.
7. Yasmine Helal: As with Aziz, I was wholly inspired by Helal’s enthusiasm, positive energy, and dedication. The fact the she kept persisting until she saw her idea come to life, kept on developing it, pursuing it despite the obstacles, is truly admirable. Moreover, the fact that she had the courage to give up work in her initial field and focus entirely on the NGO and developing is something that not everyone would do. The idea of the NGO is very innovative and I’m glad to see that it is actually making an impact. Know more about educate me.
From policy makers to teachers and from NGO founders to experts, getting exposed to such a wide array of successful individuals from the education scene in Egypt was an enriching experience. Each had his/her own unique perspective on how to improve education and they pursued it differently. It does not really matter who is right or who is doing what’s suitable for the educational field in Egypt; what matters is that they all share the same passion and innate will to introduce change. And that is exactly what we need more of.
_ All images are hyperlinked to their original sources.