American University in Cairo (EGYPT)
About this paper:
Appears in: INTED2013 Proceedings
Publication year: 2013
Page: 4537 (abstract only)
ISBN: 978-84-616-2661-8
ISSN: 2340-1079
Conference name: 7th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 4-5 March, 2013
Location: Valencia, Spain
This paper describes the current market of private education in Egypt, including both schools and universities, in the context of change in the past decade, particularly in light of changing regulations from the 1990s to today. In the mid-1990s, the private school and university market opened up; in the past ten years, the market has flourished, and now school fees are growing exponentially. New schools are opening up all throughout Cairo. And new private universities, often housed in office-like building structures, are offering more flexible formatting and curricula than available in the national universities.

The objective of this paper is to analyze the current market of private education in context of the two decade opening up of regulations, as well as the current limitations placed on foreign programming or the widespread student strikes. The study seeks to explain what has happened in the market and how that market is adjusting to new political realities.

The paper employs a neo-institutional theory regarding the development of the education "industry" in Egypt and seeks to explain how new nationalistic policies that limit the market to some degree will create new challenges in the country's understandings of its educational needs.

Data sources include individual telephone interviews with representatives from all private schools over a certain tuition level (depending on location) and all private universities. The tuition level threshold is set so to get a better sense of how middle class and wealthy Egyptian make educational decisions--and how the market responds to them. It is assumed, through a neo-institutional lens, that lower tuition schools will seek to emulate higher tuition schools.

An initial analysis of the data suggests that though the market has exploded in the past decade, very few schools see stable enrollment; many see extraordinarily high teacher turnover. Universities have seen an additional problem: strikes that have followed in the wake of the Arab Spring but are actually more associated with problems that developed prior to the 25th of January (2011) Revolution, such as improper cost-cutting devices, rapid expansion, and so forth.

This study is important for a variety of reasons. First, it provides a very clear, tangible analysis of the impact of private (often for-profit) education in a large, developing country. Second, it highlights challenges that the most populous MENA country will have to face in terms of institutional constraints and business/market expectations. A very clear finding is that school owners expect very high profits from their schools, and as expected, such expectations have very real consequences on the quality of education delivered. Finally, this study portrays a microcosm of political and economic instability that Egypt, as a country, is facing in terms of its efforts at modernization. Recommendations, given a set of strong neo-institutional constraints, are provided.
Educational policy, privatization, reform.