1. Background Information: Brief History of Citizenship Education
a. Formal Sector
Civic education can be traced back to 1922 after Egypt’s independence. This period witnessed the beginning of Egypt’s transformation into a nation state; courses in civic education were developed with the purpose of promoting Egyptian nationalism, highlighting that Egypt was an independent entity, despite its colonial history.
Following the 1952 revolution
During Mubarak’s era, history and geography were renamed ‘social studies’ and included more information having to do with civics, including human rights and the meaning of democracy.
After the 25th of January revolution in 2011, Egypt underwent several political changes: every year thereafter a different political power was ruling the country. This led to three different curriculums from 2011 to 2014; one was issued for the academic year 2011/2012 under the rule of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), the second was issued for academic year 2012/2013 under the rule of former president Mohammad Morsi, a member of the Muslim Brotherhood Group and the first civilian president of Egypt, the third was issued for academic year 2013/2014 under the rule of interim president Adly Mansour, who came into power for a transitional period after the events of 30 June, 2013.
Regarding the citizenship education programs for youth in Egypt, first of all, the definition of youth as a group is not clear. In the 2005 youth policy, it was defined as 18-35 years old
b. Non-formal Sector
The Egyptian regime has a strong hold on public life, which impacts the way in which civil society actors participate therein.
2. Definition of Citizenship Education
a. Formal Sector
According to a publication issued by the MoE in 2003
civic education (duties and rights);
life skills (negotiation, cooperation, tolerance, and managing diversity);
government system (democracy, constitution, People’s Council, elections, citizens’ role in elections);
preserving heritage (Arab and Egyptian heritage, Islamic and Coptic heritage, Arab and Egyptian values and traditions);
Egypt’s relations with other countries (on the Arab, Islamic, African and global levels);
Non-governmental organizations (conditions for establishing NGOs, the role of NGOs);
Arab organizations and institutions and
international organizations and institutions
Research has been conducted in the past years to examine to which extent the aforementioned principles have been achieved within the school curriculums and environments. An analysis of citizenship education textbooks and history curricula in the Mubarak era shows an over-emphasis on authority, nationalism, the importance of tourism, cultural diversity and the role of government in service provision; it also shows little emphasis on citizenship and human rights; and minimum emphasis on rule of law, social justice and political participation.
In its newest strategic plan (2014-2030), MoE has stated that the long-term goal for the education sector is ‘setting the holistic development of young people, instilling the principles and values of citizenship, tolerance, renunciation of violence, freedom and justice, and taking into consideration related rights and obligations in addition to the sense of responsibility towards nation and fellow citizens’. In response to a dynamic multi-party system, the MoE views that the philosophy of education should contribute to developing political awareness and participation of citizens, and to promoting the values of democracy, freedom, citizenship, tolerance and acceptance of others in order to achieve the transition to democracy on a sound footing.
With regard to MoY, there is no specific mention of citizenship education and its definition in their official documents, however there is mention of several dimensions relevant to it. There now seems to be more focus placed on participation in elections, especially parliamentary elections, and the focus on the values of belonging and of loyalty to the country. When it comes to inclusion, there seems to be a focus on most of the governorates. To conclude, it seems that there are various efforts being made within the formal sector to address issues of citizenship education for Egyptian youth, however there is a lack of uniform definitions and goals among the concerned ministries, and an insufficient consistency in the approach.
b. Non-formal Sector
Due to the diverse nature of the non-formal sector, here one finds different and interrelated definitions of citizenship education. However, some CSOs in Egypt now work within the framework of developing ‘well-rounded, responsible citizens who know their legal rights and duties, and apply this knowledge to evaluate government policies and practices. Moreover, nurturing students to become citizens who work for the common good has a positive impact on their communities and societies’.
3. Ecosystem of the Non-formal Citizenship Education
With the beginning of the millennium, the mapping of the citizenship education actors in Egypt reflects that different foreign donors started to work in Egypt with pre-determined developmental plans and agendas, either with the Egyptian government, or with the CSOs.
According to the ‘Citizens in the Making’ report conducted by Gerhart Center 2012, only 14% of the civic education programs carried out by the NGOs do not target youth, while the rest focuses solely on youth. This focus can be explained by the focus of MoY on citizenship education for youth as well as by the rising wave of youth activism from 2011.
Most programs carried out by the CSOs are centralized in the capital and big cities: Cairo, Alexandria and Menya. Other areas are neglected, especially in Upper Egypt, Sinai and the Red Sea provinces.
However, in mid-2014, the Ministry of Social Solidarity (MoSS)– overseeing all NGO and foundation work in Egypt – issued an ultimatum to all groups involved in activities that could possibly be considered NGO activities to register as NGOs within a few months. They would otherwise face legal investigation.
Along with the public sector and the civil society organizations, there are other important and contributing stakeholders promoting the spread of civic education values and content: for example, the media, political parties, the private sector, and religious institutions as well as donors. Media is considered to be ‘powerful because it is widely accessible to all, irrespective of their level of education and sophistication’.
4. Legal Environment
According to Article 19 in the Egyptian Constitution of 2014, ‘Every citizen has the right to education. The goals of education are to build the Egyptian character, preserve the national identity, root the scientific method of thinking, develop talents and promote innovation, establish cultural and spiritual values, and found the concepts of citizenship, tolerance and non-discrimination. The State shall observe the goals of education in the educational curricula and methods, and provide education in accordance with international quality standards.’
The 2019 NGO Law
a. Formal Sector
The challenges within the formal sector are related to the political environment, the school and university environment, the curriculum, and the teaching methods and teacher preparation. The political environment might be seen as a challenge to citizenship education, because of the real life situations which the student has to encounter that contradict the principles and values of citizenship education; teaching students about human rights, social justice, freedom of speech, political participation and other concepts might only create further frustrations and issues if these practices are not allowed in real life.
b. Non-formal Sector
The institutions working in citizenship education in the non-formal sector are facing several challenges with regard to their program’s legalities, outreach, impact, sustainability, curriculum development, trainers, and financial constraints. After the 30 June events in 2013, there the NGOs were under a lot of attack, and there were accusations of foreign funding and treason. This has impacted the way the community looks at civil society in general and youth groups specifically.
6. Further Reading
Aly, S. 2017b. Citizenship education: A critical content analysis of the Egyptian citizenship education textbooks after the revolution. In N. Megahed (Ed.), Education during the time of the revolution in Egypt: Dialectics of education.
Attalah, M., Makar, F. 2014. Nationalism and Homogeneity in Contemporary Curricula Cairo: Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights
Becker, G., Shahien, M. 2013. Civic Education Conference Documentation. Cairo: Goethe Institut.
CIVICUS. 2005. Civil Society Index Report for the Arab Republic of Egypt: Executive Summary. Cairo: CIVICUS.
Dewey, J. 1897. My pedagogic creed. The School Journal, pp. 77-80.
El-Rouby, H. 2007. Mapping organizations working with and for youth in Egypt. Cairo: World Bank.
Handoussa, H., et al. 2008. Egypt Human Development Report. Cairo: United Nations Development Programme.
Khallaf, M. 2010. Civil Society in Egypt. Retrieved December 5, 2014, from Foundation for future: [Externer Link: http://foundationforfuture.org/en/Portals/0/Conferences/Research/Research%20papers/Civil_Society_in_Egypt_Mahi%20Khallaf_English.pdf] Accessed June 1, 2021.
Wardany, Y. 2012. The Mubarak Regime’s Failed Youth Policies and the January Uprising. Institute of Development Studies, pp. 37-46.