About 75% of Egyptian students sit in overcrowded classrooms with more than 40 students, or attend schools that operate in a multiple-shift system, where classroom time is cut in half, said Alternative Policy Solutions (APS) of the American University in Cairo (AUC) in a paper entitled “Expensive Classrooms, Poor Learning: The Imperatives of Reforming School Construction in Egypt” on Wednesday.
Over-density negatively impacts the general output of the educational process as well as the student’s ability to learn, especially in the primary stage, where the average classroom density stands at 47.5 students, added the paper.
Releasing this paper coincides with Egyptian students returning to school this week for the second academic term. The paper probes Egyptian public schools, in terms of classroom density, infrastructure, and the gap between the demand for new classrooms and the current supply of construction projects.
The paper also called on the General Authority for Educational Buildings to create a more efficient school construction system, reducing costs and creating new indicators that would better assess whether students’ needs are being met.
Reforming Egypt’s current school construction system does not necessarily require building new schools, the paper said, adding that in the past few years, schools have been built where they were not actually needed, whereas areas with the direst need were neglected.
Egypt’s inadequate learning conditions, compounded by sanitary and maintenance problems, disproportionately affect those students who are already disadvantaged and aggravates inequality in educational opportunities based on geographic location and economic status.
The paper recommended the Egyptian authorities to restructure the General Authority for Educational Buildings, reform financial regulations and spend more on maintenance, basing construction plans on a new set of indicators and building larger urban schools and smaller rural ones.
APS is a public policy research project at the AUC that proposes evidence-based policy solutions to some of the most difficult challenges facing Egypt, using rigorous, in-depth research, and a participatory process of consultations with a diverse range of stakeholders. The solutions are designed to support decision makers’ efforts to introduce inclusive public policies.