American education system in Egypt

International education in Egypt – the transition towards more

5-2 HenriBy Henri Kors

When I joined ISTER Ltd. and came to Egypt, I was not surprised at the lack of transparency given by the majority of the international schools in the country. After all, there was no organisation or body that was monitoring the entire process of the Teaching & Learning Environment. Hence, the journey began. In 2012, there were approximately 134 international schools in the country, with almost 75, 000 students according to the International School Consultancy Group (ISC), the biggest research firm for international schools around the world. Does that mean all those schools are actually international schools? By far not, only 20%, or approximately 25-30 schools qualify as international schools and only 10-15 of those schools are fully qualified, fully accredited and fully functional international schools.

Progress or Regress?

Of all the international schools in Egypt, only about 10%, or exactly 13 International Schools are currently offering one or more of the IB programs (i.e. MYP, PYP and DP). What about the rest of the International Schools that are not offering these programs? Of course the IB is not the only game in town, but the question raised here is what sort of international programs or curriculums are all these new schools offering? Are they truly international schools? These questions and others are what prompted the International Association of School Librarianship, at their 2009 conference in Italy, to outline a list of criteria for a school to be described as an international school. They include a multinational and multilingual student body, an international Curriculum, international accreditation (e.g. CIS, IBO and Middle States), transient and multinational teacher population, non-selective student enrolment and usually English as the language of instruction, or another language in addition to English.

Not everyone agrees with the above criteria because it’s not where the students come from, but how the educational program is delivered. If the school’s mission is to deliver an international education through a curriculum such as the IB, and to produce global citizens, then it is an international school as well. As obvious as it may seem, the exact definition of an international school is an intricate one.

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