The de-facto privatization of secondary education in Egypt: a study of private tutoring in technical and general schools

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In the technical school, the market entrenched itself not by manufacturing demand, or for remedying poor quality, but primarily through intimidation and abuse of students by poorly paid unaccountable teachers. The current educational context has
  This article was downloaded by: [FU Berlin]On: 09 January 2013, At: 07:05Publisher: RoutledgeInforma Ltd Registered in England and Wales Registered Number: 1072954 Registeredoffice: Mortimer House, 37-41 Mortimer Street, London W1T 3JH, UK Compare: A Journal of Comparativeand International Education Publication details, including instructions for authors andsubscription information: The de-facto privatization of secondaryeducation in Egypt: a study of privatetutoring in technical and generalschools Hania Sobhy aa  The School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London,UKVersion of record first published: 25 Nov 2011. To cite this article:  Hania Sobhy (2012): The de-facto privatization of secondary educationin Egypt: a study of private tutoring in technical and general schools, Compare: A Journal of Comparative and International Education, 42:1, 47-67 To link to this article: PLEASE SCROLL DOWN FOR ARTICLEFull terms and conditions of use: article may be used for research, teaching, and private study purposes. Anysubstantial or systematic reproduction, redistribution, reselling, loan, sub-licensing,systematic supply, or distribution in any form to anyone is expressly forbidden.The publisher does not give any warranty express or implied or make any representationthat the contents will be complete or accurate or up to date. The accuracy of anyinstructions, formulae, and drug doses should be independently verified with primarysources. The publisher shall not be liable for any loss, actions, claims, proceedings,demand, or costs or damages whatsoever or howsoever caused arising directly orindirectly in connection with or arising out of the use of this material.  The de-facto privatization of secondary education in Egypt:a study of private tutoring in technical and general schools Hania Sobhy* The School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, UK  Most secondary school students in Egypt enrol in private tutoring inalmost all subjects throughout the school year. A large proportion of stu-dents have stopped attending school altogether due to their reliance ontutoring. This study of how educational markets are perpetuated at school level  󿬁 nds that in the technical track catering to the working clas-ses, the market is forced upon students through physical and verbalintimidation by teachers receiving below subsistence wages. In the moremiddle class general secondary track, pressure to enrol in tutoring is lessdirect and the market is promoted as a necessity for competitive examreadiness, despite its unclear dividends. The result has been a de-facto privatization of secondary education facilitated by a state that has deter-mined the material conditions of teachers, failed to prevent related abuseand corruption, and reduced its investment in education to the point that the market has effectively emptied out and displaced public schooling. Keywords:  education; Egypt; privatization; private tutoring; secondaryeducation; technical education Introduction In the political and economic context of the end of the Mubarak era, educa-tion suffered the same fate of de-facto privatization, corruption and neglect as other social sectors in Egypt. The growth of private tutoring was part of a deliberate policy of the deposed Mubarak regime of promoting privatiza-tion and reducing public spending on education. Almost from a child ’ s  󿬁 rst year in school, poor families (constituting about 40% of the population) 1 are pressured and intimidated by poorly paid teachers to enrol their children in private tutoring in order to pass from one year to the next. Middle andupper middle class families are equally pressured to enrol their children intutoring to secure an acceptable level of education. For secondary schoolstudents especially, over 80% of students report year-long enrolment intutoring. In fact, this has culminated in extreme cases of teachers simplygoing ahead and privatizing their own school by running it as a tutoring *Email:  Compare Vol. 42, No. 1, January 2012, 47  –  67 ISSN 0305-7925 print/ISSN 1469-3623 online   2012 British Association for International and Comparative Education    D  o  w  n   l  o  a   d  e   d   b  y   [   F   U    B  e  r   l   i  n   ]  a   t   0   7  :   0   5   0   9   J  a  n  u  a  r  y   2   0   1   3  centre (see  Al-Masry Al-Youm  2009d;  Al-Ahram  2011). Tutoring on thisscale has obviously created a system that is both very inequitable and veryexpensive (World Bank 1996, Annex 2).The spread of tutoring in Egypt began in the 1980s to cater to private and public school students who were preparing for increasingly competitive gen-eral secondary certi 󿬁 cate ( thanawiya  ‘  amma ) examinations leading to univer-sity admission; an issue that primarily affected middle class families for that critical transition year. However, tutoring has now spread to lower stages aswell as higher education, thereby affecting a huge proportion of Egyptianhouseholds. While private tutoring in the secondary stage to prepare for high-stakes examinations exists in many countries, few other countries havetutoring rates that are as high across all educational stages as in Egypt (seeBray 1999, 2003, 2006). However, tutoring is growing rapidly across theworld (Bray 2006) as well as in the Middle East, with studies in North Africa pointing to the rapid spread of tutoring from elementary to higher education(Akkari 2010). The growth of tutoring in Egypt has intertwined with variousforms of corruption, exam cheating and emotional and physical harm to stu-dents. The concrete ways in which  ‘ informal ’  tutoring markets have beenestablished within and alongside formal schooling have transformed stateinstitutions and informed the sense of injustice perceived in their operation.Tutoring on this scale has profound implications for equity, access to educa-tion, and the content and quality of youth schooling experiences.The  󿬁 rst part of this article presents the available data and literature on private tutoring in Egypt in terms of the institutional context, private tutor-ing enrolment and household spending on tutoring. The second part dis-cusses the causes and implications of tutoring suggested in the availableinternational literature and their relevance to Egypt. The third part approaches tutoring from the level of the school, based on observations andinterviews with students, teachers and principals in one technical and onegeneral boys ’  secondary school in the Greater Cairo area. As a qualitativestudy of two schools, the purpose is not to  ‘  prove ’  the existence of the phe-nomena described in Part I. It is rather to add texture and depth to our understanding of how some of the issues play out at the school level. Thearticle highlights the institutional setting and school relations that perpetuatetutoring, especially as understood and expressed by students. It emphasizesthe existence of two distinct systems of private tutoring  –   and schooling  –  fundamentally divided by class. The two worlds of tutoring differ in termsof the driving forces, mechanisms and implications of marketization. In thetechnical school where marks do not matter, coercion into tutoring is themeans by which teachers secure their livelihoods, increasing the level of marginalization and emotional harm to disadvantaged students. In the gen-eral school where pressure to enrol in tutoring is less direct, students are nolonger able to rely on the school for learning or competitive exam prepara-tion and increasingly abandon it altogether as an institution of learning and 48  H. Sobhy    D  o  w  n   l  o  a   d  e   d   b  y   [   F   U    B  e  r   l   i  n   ]  a   t   0   7  :   0   5   0   9   J  a  n  u  a  r  y   2   0   1   3  socialization. In both systems, access to the available forms of schooling(and freedom from emotional harm) is largely structured by the ability to pay for private tutoring. Part I: private tutoring in Egypt ‘ Private tutoring ’  in this article refers to classes provided for a fee, whichtake place outside and in addition to the formal school timetable with theaim of improving of  󿬁 cial exam performance. Private tutoring in a particular subject usually takes place once or twice a week from the start of the schoolyear (and for general secondary about one month earlier), frequently withnumerous additional revision and examination classes scheduled throughout the year. There are two main types of tutoring in Egypt. The  󿬁 rst are of  󿬁 -cially sanctioned after-school classes called  ‘ in-school tutoring ’  ( majmu ‘  at al-taqwiya al-madrasiya  or simply  magmu ‘  at  ). They are provided by theschool ’ s teachers after school time and organized according to Ministry of Education (MOE) regulations. Introduced as early as 1952, Law No. 149 for the year 1986 made these classes a mandatory service of the school (Herrera1992, 75). This was seen as a way to combat private tutoring and alleviate part of its  󿬁 nancial burden on families by providing tutoring in school at lower prices, a strategy that has obviously failed. The second type of tutor-ing is the more straightforward private lessons ( durus khususiya ) that areconducted either in student homes or increasingly in especially establishedtutoring centres ( marakiz  ). Tutoring centres have been mushrooming sincethe mid-1990s, and cater to almost every socioeconomic group, althoughthey are more concentrated in urban centres.  Enrolment in tutoring and school attendance Several studies have attempted to document enrolment in private tutoring inEgypt over the past 15 years. According to a United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) survey in 1997, 51% of poor students and 60% of richstudents took private lessons (UNDP 2005). Rates have been increasing over the years and the phenomenon has gained increasing momentum over the past few years alone. A recent of  󿬁 cial study found that 81% of householdshad children who received private tutoring in the secondary stage, while69% received tutoring in the primary and preparatory stages (74% in prepa-ratory and 50% in primary) (Abdul Wahab 2009).Private tutoring on this scale, especially in general secondary, has had a profound impact on student attendance at schools. Although no reliableof  󿬁 cial statistics are available, teacher and student absenteeism is rampant throughout the system. Although it is a known fact in Egyptian households,general secondary certi 󿬁 cate attendance rates of less than 10% for much for the school year may be dif  󿬁 cult to imagine for readers unfamiliar with the Compare  49    D  o  w  n   l  o  a   d  e   d   b  y   [   F   U    B  e  r   l   i  n   ]  a   t   0   7  :   0   5   0   9   J  a  n  u  a  r  y   2   0   1   3  system (for recent news coverage touching on the matter, see  Al-Masry Al-Youm  2009a, b; Al-Bihiri 2010). In terms of how far tutoring has literally ‘ emptied ’  schools of students, a prominent scholar of Egyptian education,Linda Herrera (2008, 69), describes a visit to an ordinary boys ’  public sec-ondary school in a medium-sized provincial town in northern Egypt in 2007,where she found absolutely no students in the school (not even  󿬁 rst second-ary students), a pattern common to many general secondary schools.  Household spending and tutoring costs Spending on private tutoring is simply immense. According to a survey bythe Egyptian National Institute of Planning in 2000, poor households spent a 󿬁 fth of their yearly income on (supposedly free) schooling (Tadros 2001).Middle class households have been estimated to spend about one third of their income on tutoring (United Nations Educational, Scienti 󿬁 c and CulturalOrganization [UNESCO] 2003). A recent of  󿬁 cial nationwide study found that 66% of households spent more than 500 EGP 2  per month on private tutoring(Abdul Wahab, Nisrin 2009), while GDP per capita was around 12,000 EGP per year (2000 USD) (United Nations Children ’ s Fund [UNICEF] 2009).Household spending on private tutoring has been estimated to have exceededgovernment spending on education for several years now (UNESCO 2003).Recent of  󿬁 cial estimates of household spending on tutoring have put it  between 12 and 15 billion EGP every year, compared to a 10 billion EGPMOE budget (see Kadir al-Mu ‘ alimin 2009; Al-Samni 2009).The cost of tutoring varies widely across neighbourhoods, educationalstages and tracks in a highly differentiated market. While more af  󿬂 uent households consume somewhat more private tutoring than lower income brackets, they spend much more on it. According to one of  󿬁 cial study, per-household expenditure of the richest quintile on private tutoring is more thanseven times that of the poorest (CAPMAS 2004). In some tutoring centres,students may be charged 5  –  8 EGP per class in packed lecture halls in low-income neighbourhoods (Al-Samni 2009). In af  󿬂 uent neighbourhoods, tutor-ing for private school students can reach 120 EGP per class. Literally, thecost of one class varies from 5 to 120 EGP, and revision classes and sum-mary notes are typically more expensive than regular ones. Part II: the causes and implications of private tutoring  Educational quality  A key proposition in studies of private tutoring is that tutoring is caused bythe low quality of education in public schools (Bray 2009). This wouldappear to be a very good explanation for the levels of private tutoring inEgypt. The quality of public schooling has declined to the extent that  ‘ education ’  is routinely declared as  ‘ non-existent  ’  by Egyptians. Teachers, 50  H. Sobhy    D  o  w  n   l  o  a   d  e   d   b  y   [   F   U    B  e  r   l   i  n   ]  a   t   0   7  :   0   5   0   9   J  a  n  u  a  r  y   2   0   1   3
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