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Egypt has the largest education system in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region

17 April, 2019

Cairo, Egypt - 17 April 2019: PwC Middle East launched its latest report in a series entitled “Understanding Middle East Education”, focusing on Egypt’s education system. The report provides a full analysis on Egypt’s education system across its multiple stages with forecasts of seats needed till 2022/23; highlighting the growth opportunities of private sector provision.

The report highlights that, according to the Central Agency for Public Mobilisation and Statistics (CAPMAS), during 2016/17 the total enrolment at the K-12 level reached 20.6 million, while total enrolment at the Higher Education (HE) level amounted to 2.4 million students. Of these, 90% of K-12 students and 94% of HE students in Egypt attended public schools or universities during the 2016-2017 academic year.

At this current rate of enrolment, an estimated 900 thousand seats may be needed for students enrolling in higher education institutions by 2021. The increase, PwC argues, is due to: (i) an increase in tertiary aged population by 400,000 and (ii) a continual improvement in HE participation rate.

According to the CAPMAS, although private sector provision at the primary, preparatory and secondary stages only constitutes 10% of total enrolment, enrolment in private schools is growing at a faster rate than that of public schools with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 4% recorded between 2013 and 2017.

Sally Jeffery, Global Education & Skills Network Leader, PwC Middle East and co-author of the report noted:  

“Assuming full capacity of existing provision, and without any fundamental changes to school delivery models, PwC estimates a number of nearly 2.4 million seats for grades 1-12 will be needed by FY 2022/23.”

Meanwhile the high enrolment rates in overburdened public universities along with budgetary caution on capital expenditure suggest that the government will continue to facilitate more growth in the private sector’s capacity at the HE level.

The report reveals that Egypt is well on its way to building a private education sector, owing to:

  1. a sustainable demand for education due to steady population growth;
  2. improving macroeconomic setting, with growth projected to be as high as 5.5% in 2019 and 6% by 2023 according to IMF figures;
  3. a need for private investment to support making improvements to the quality and capacity of Egypt’s educational systems, in particular to help bridge the youth unemployment gap, which today stands at a staggering 33%.

The report also notes that with 98.7% of Egypt’s HE students enrolled in 10 fields of study (28% in business courses alone), the future workforce is being prepared overwhelmingly with a white collar skillset, which represents only 20% of total employment opportunities. Given the disconnect between the subjects studied and the reality of Egypt’s labour market dynamics, there is clearly a need to expand and improve Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) in Egypt.  

Sally added:

“Although there is a strong reliance on the government as the main education provider in Egypt, the outcomes aren’t good and unemployment rates even for graduates are very high. With continuing demographic growth, Egypt’s education sector represents one of the most pressing and therefore one of the most attractive opportunities for investors in the region.”

According to the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness report (2017-18) Egypt is ranked among the top performing economies in enrolment particularly at the primary level, however, it is consistently ranked amongst the poorest performing economies in education quality.

Egypt’s future prosperity relies heavily on its citizens receiving a high quality education that prepares them for life in a rapidly changing economic environment and social setting. While Egypt has enjoyed major achievements in improving access at primary and secondary stages and in getting more girls enrolled, it still has a way to go to deliver the quality of education to support its educational, social and emerging economic needs.

For more and to read the full report, visit: https://www.pwc.com/me/egyptprofile

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