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Teaching Profession

A conference on teacher preparation in 1996 proposed a new plan to upgrade the skills of teachers and expose them to alternative methods of education, new trends, and new technologies. One result was in-country and international training opportunities for teachers. President Mubarak in 1995-1996 authorized overseas training for 1,000 teachers per year. They are sent to U.S., U.K., and French universities for four months. By June 1996, 1,939 teachers had completed overseas training.

Preprimary teachers traditionally were women with little formal university training. Plans call for gradually replacing unqualified teachers with qualified ones. Pre-school teachers in 2000 must be university graduates, preferably with specialization in child development who study child development, development of disabled children and development of the gifted and talented. Candidates at universities are encouraged to choose an area of childhood such as media, children's theater/library, early child psychology, or children's literature and museum study.

In the case of a shortage of properly qualified teachers, the Ministry may accept university graduates with other majors after giving them an extra year to earn a Special diploma in Childhood Education. Kindergarten headmasters must hold a higher degree in Childhood Education plus five years experience, or preferably a higher degree such as an M.A. or Ph.D. in this field.

The preparation of both primary and preparatory teachers was upgraded to university levels in the early 1990s. Preparation now takes place at universities in 15 colleges of education. Enrollment in 1996-1997 was approximately 10,000 teachers. The position of the special education teacher is viewed as a less than desirable position, socially and economically, and many low-achieving students are urged to enter the field.

Teaching positions at public secondary schools require a university degree and the postgraduate General Diploma in Education. Teachers are educated at one of the university schools of education. Teacher candidates can also take specialized courses in skill areas offered by the technical institutes. University education programs are of two types: integrated preparation and continuing preparation. The integrated teacher preparation begins with two years of courses that include principles of education and psychology, principles of teaching, social and historical foundations of education, and basic culture courses. If students successfully pass an exam at the end of the second year, they can advance to the third and fourth years of the program. In these years, they take courses in methodology, educational psychology and technology, educational philosophy, comparative education, curriculum, and social psychology as well as specialized and cultural courses. After student teaching, candidates are qualified for a Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science degree.

The continuing teacher preparation is for graduates of non-education faculties who wish to become teachers. These candidates enroll in education courses full time for one year or part time for two years. Successful completion earns a General Diploma in Education. Technical schoolteachers are trained in special institutes. Teaching staff at the university level are generally required to hold the doctorate. Departments select faculty candidates subject to the approval of both a faculty board and a university council. An additional requirement is attendance in an educational training program on educational and psychological principles of teaching held annually for three weeks in the Faculty of Education. The teaching staff consists of lecturers, associate professors, and professors. Promotion to the rank above depends upon the originality and quality of research work and a minimum of five years in rank. The Permanent Scientific Committee affiliated with the Supreme Council of Universities administers university promotions.

Teacher-quality has been sacrificed by granting the General Diploma Program to non-education graduates, by requiring that university graduates performing poorly in technical fields become teachers, and by the lack of standard methods for qualifying teachers or standardizing their preparation. Additionally, pre-service teachers willingly work as expatriates in neighboring countries rather than assume Egyptian teaching jobs with lower salaries. In 1997, the average teacher's salary was less than $100 a month. Thus, some of the best teachers, those most able to handle content and develop a diverse repertoire of skills, are lost to Egyptian education programs. Further, few of the teachers received preparation in pedagogy. Their coursework is comprised of subject area classes and classes on teaching basic literacy. "They are products of the lecture-mode and don't adapt easily to the role of teacher-as-guide or instructional-manager"—roles stipulated in the national curricula. To upgrade primary school teaching quality, the Ministry of Education in 1981 recommended that primary teachers be unilaterally enrolled in an ongoing education program sponsored by a university faculty of education. The courses are given after school hours and are part of a university degree program.

In the mid-1990s, 75 million Egyptian pounds, allocated to address the problem of occupational stagnation, resulted in the promotion of 53,422 teachers. Additional incentive awards totaled 27 million pounds. By the end of 1991-1992, allocations for additional awards reached 46.5 million pounds, a practice continued for the next five years. Other compensations of various types are given and headmaster remuneration increased in 1991-1992 to almost 100 percent over that of 1990-1991. In 1992, resources and pension funds increased for the teachers union (Teachers' Syndicate) including those for retired teachers. The Teachers' Collegial Fund increased by 5 million Egyptian pounds, resources for local teachers' hospitals by 500,000 Egyptian pounds, and Teachers' Cultural and Social Welfare Resources by 500,000 Egyptian pounds. The Teachers' Syndicate is the largest syndicate of teachers with the largest financial resources in Egypt and the Arab world. All teachers belong to the syndicate. The syndicate does not deal with national educational causes; the government excludes it from participating in decisions on national educational policies and in decisions made by advisory educational councils for technical training institutes.

A member of the Ministry of Education traditionally directs the syndicate and so does not represent the ideas or values of the rank-and-file teachers. After the revolution of the 1950s, political blocs were abolished to prevent organized workers in any field from striking or organizing opposition to the government. The Teachers' Syndicate remains however, but government intelligence personnel are assigned to keep an eye on syndicate meetings and activities.

Parents who want their children to have the best chance at national exams take advantage of the low pay and status accorded teachers and hire them as private tutors. Most citizens accept this arrangement as a means of having some control over their children's education. Tutoring grew to a $2 billion industry by 1997. Aside from the financial burden on parents and the increased income for teachers, tutoring impacts the educational system per se. Students begin to disregard ministry-designed curricula and replace them with tutor-recommended materials and lessons that have been successfully used as exam preparation tools. Too, abuses are not uncommon. Some teachers pressure students into private tutoring and for some, tutoring becomes a more important part of their workday than their official classroom duties and occupies after school time rather than in-service training.

Additional topics

Education - Free Encyclopedia Search EngineGlobal Education ReferenceEgypt - History Background, Constitutional Legal Foundations, Educational System—overview, Preprimary Primary Education, Secondary Education