Egyptian society suffers from many problems that have accumulated over many decades, foremost of which are education problems that are intertwined with economic, social and cultural issues, and require huge budgets and firm strategic plans to bring about a quantum leap in the quality of education in light of an era of rapid development and multiplicity of its course.
The problem of “school dropout ” is considered one of the most serious problems facing the educational process in Egypt and negatively affects the structure of society and stands as an obstacle to its progress due to the consequences of continuing ignorance, increasing rates of unemployment and poverty, deepening wrong social practices, wasting the future energies of society and eliminating any return expected from sustainable development plans.
The problem of “school dropout ” raises many questions that this analytical report answers through several axes that deal in detail with the concept this phenomenon , the most prominent indicators related to the problem in Egypt, its causes and repercussions, in addition to the efforts in confrontation.
The first axis: the concept of school dropout and its types
UNICEF defines dropping out as: “Children who are of educational age do not enroll in school or leave it without successfully completing the educational stage in which they are studying, whether by their desire or as a result of other factors, as well as failure to attend regularly for a year or more.”
A dropout is defined, according to UNESCO, as every person who does not complete his studies and leaves education before completing his school years. As for the Arab Organization for Education, Culture and Science, it defined dropout as “a form of educational poverty in the educational field, and the student leaving the study in one of its different stages.”
The problem takes one of these two forms:
1- The child’s failure to enroll in school from the beginning and his continued reluctance to join it, as well as his reluctance to desire education during the various stages of his life
.2- The child stops attending school permanently (at least a year) after he joined it, and this differs from the concept of absenteeism or irregularity.
Many studies have developed general characteristics for students who dropping out, and they can be summarized as follows:
1- Children with limited mental abilities.
2- Students with difficult economic conditions.
3- Children who live in families suffering from social disintegration.
4- Children who are competent but have problems with their teachers or colleagues.
5- Children with special behavior as a result of social and economic conditions that lead them to be aggressive towards their teachers and classmates.
The second axis: indicators related to the problem of school dropout in Egypt
According to the recent data and statistics issued by the Ministry of Education and contained in the Annual Statistics Book 2021/2022, there are a number of indicators that can be taken into account when studying this phenomenon and searching for its causes and repercussions. They can be summarized as follows:
1- Percentages of school dropouts :The percentage of school dropouts at the primary level in the period from 2019/2020 and 2020/2021 was about 0.2%, of whom 0.17% were girls and 0.23% were boys, compared to 0.25%, including 0.20% for girls, and 0.29% for boys in the period from 2018/2019 and 2019/2020.
The percentage of school dropouts in the preparatory stage in the period from 2019/2020 and 2020/2021 was about 0.87%, of whom 1.10% were girls and 0.66% boys, compared to 1.73%, including 2.07% girls, and 1.40% boys in the period from 2018/ 2019 and 2019/2020.
Dropout rates at the primary and preparatory levels are declining. The figures also indicate that boys have the highest school dropout in the primary stage, while girls are the highest school dropout in the preparatory stage, which reflects very difficult social conditions, since in the stages of the primary school years many families resort under the pressure of destitution and economic need. To employ male children and leave education so that these children turn into a source of income for the family. In the preparatory stage, many poor families also resort to early marriage of girls to get rid of their economic burdens.
Matrouh governorate recorded the highest dropout rates in the primary stage between 2020/2019 – 2020/2021 at 0.39%, followed by Assiut at 0.36%, while the New Valley governorate was the lowest at 0.02%, followed by South Sinai at 0.05%.
These percentages confirm the need for the concerned authorities to study the reasons for students school dropout in Marsa Matrouh Governorate and to intervene effectively to reduce them. The decrease in the number of students who school dropout in the New Valley and South Sinai governorates may be due to the decrease in the overall population in these two governorates.
the governorate of Assiut recorded the highest rates of student school dropout in the preparatory stage between the years 2019/2020-2020/2021 at a rate of 1.93%, followed by Matrouh at a rate of 1.55%, while the Red Sea governorate recorded the lowest at a rate of 0.16%.
2- The intensity of the classes
Primary school classes recorded the highest average student density in 2021/2022, followed by middle school classes, although the average class density witnessed a decrease in 2021/2022 compared to 2020/2021, as the class density in the pre-primary stage recorded 29.77 students. compared to 32.02 students in the year 2020/2021, and the density of classes in the primary stage amounted to 51.56 students compared to 51.92 students in the year 2020/2021, and in the preparatory stage it reached 47.53 students, compared to 48.01 students in the year 2020/2021, as the figure shows next one.
At the governorate level, Alexandria has the highest density in the kindergarten stage with 38.35 students, Qalyubia in the elementary stage with 57.18 students, followed by Giza with 56.63 students, Marsa Matrouh the highest in the community education stage with 59.15, and Giza in the preparatory stage with 54.71 students.
These figures reflect the high density of classrooms, which negatively affects the school compatibility of the learner, and leads him to drop out of school, which necessitates the need to urgently expand the establishment of more schools.
3- Net and Gross Enrollment Ratios
The net and gross enrollment ratios in the primary and preparatory education levels for the year 2021/2022 recorded an increase compared to the same ratio in 2020/2021, while the gross and net enrollment rates decreased in the pre-primary stage.
The gross enrollment rate in the primary stage in 2021/2022 was about 107.3%, compared to 105.3% in 2020/2021, and the net enrollment rate in 2021/2022 was about 104.9%, compared to 103% in 2020/2021.
The total enrollment rate in the preparatory stage in 2021/2022 was about 104.1%, compared to 99.4% in 2020/2021, while the net enrollment rate in 2021/2022 was about 94.9%, compared to 90.7% in 2020/2021.
The enrollment rates in the pre-primary stage decreased, as the total enrollment rates in 2021/2022 reached about 22.4%, compared to 24.2% in 2020/2021, and the net enrollment rates reached 18.7% compared to 20.6% in 2020/2021.
4-The teacher’s share of the students
The teacher’s share of the students in the primary stage was the highest for the year 2021/2022 in the primary stage, as it reached about 31.55 students for each teacher, followed by the preparatory stage, where it reached about 23.65 students for each teacher, while the teacher’s share of the students in the pre-primary stage reached about 19.67 students. for each teacher, as shown in the following figure
Compared to the teacher’s share of students in 2020/2021, there was a decrease in the pre-primary level, with 21.18 students per teacher, while the primary level increased to 30.23 students per teacher, and in the preparatory stage to 21.97 students per teacher.
5- percentage of teaching practitioners for non-teaching practitioners in education 2021/2022
According to recent data issued by the Ministry of Education, the highest percentage of non-practicing teachers in pre-primary education reached 4.02%, although this percentage has decreased slightly compared to 2020/2021 when it reached 4.11%.
While the percentage of non-practicing teachers increased in the primary stage in 2021/2022 and reached 1.85% after it was 1.83% in 2020/2021, and in the preparatory stage it reached 1.73% while it recorded 1.71% in 2020/2021.
These data reflect a serious indicator, which is the increase in the use of non-practicing teachers, especially in the pre-primary stage, which requires dealing with children by specialists negatively on children and make them lose all desire to complete their education. This comes in conjunction with the presence of teachers who are not qualified to communicate with students and their parents, which may make students feel alienated and lack of understanding with their teachers.
The third axis: Reasons for the exacerbation of school dropout
1- Economic factors: The economic factor is the primary responsible for the increase in the number of school dropout. The lack of economic capabilities to meet the requirements of life leads parents not to complete their children’s educational journey, and to benefit from them economically by employing them and exploiting them as a source of income.
2-Social factors: It means the circumstances and conditions that relate to the student’s family and his local environment, and the values that prevail in society and lead to the student’s failure to continue education, the most important of which is family disintegration.
Old social customs may contribute to increasing school dropout rates, such as preferring male education over female education, or early marriage of girls, or forcing girls to leave education for fear of dealing with others, and other customs and traditions that spread especially in rural and Upper Egypt villages and governorates.
3-Educational factors: including those related to the educational system, as its lack of material and human capabilities causes its inability to achieve its required goals, and thus leads to a high dropout rate in education.
In addition, the high density of classes negatively affects the educational process, so it does not give the learner the opportunity to obtain a good education and to practice school activities that always make students apply to study and does not allow the teacher to pay attention and teach all students and contain their tendencies.
With fewer teachers, the Ministry of Education resorted to appointing non-practicing teachers, which may reflect their inability to accommodate the students’ needs, which negatively affected the psychological state of many students and led them to leave education in general.
The severe shortage in the numbers of schools and classrooms also led the Ministry of Education to resort to making the school day divided into two or more periods, and of course the evening period during which the school day is reduced and the educational level weakens with a complete absence of academic activities.
Class Distribution Ratio by School Period 2021/2022
The percentage of classes distributed for the current academic year in the evening period was 6.02%, and the classes that worked for two shifts were 7.01%, while the classes that worked for the full day amounted to 39.48%, and the classes that worked only for the morning shifts were 47.48%.
These percentages confirm the importance of increasing the number of schools and educational classes and placing this at the forefront of the Ministry of Education’s priorities.
The fourth axis: the repercussions of school dropout
1- Economic repercussions: This effect is represented in the economic waste of the state, which it spends on educating dropouts without the output being equal to the expenditure. The state may re-educate them again through literacy programs, which constitutes a great economic and educational waste.
2- Educational implications: School Dropout impedes the goals of the educational system of reform and social change that is desirable for individuals. The function of education is not limited to the transmission of cultural heritage, but rather to bring about changes and trends intended socially, politically, economically and intellectually.
school dropout usually suffer from illiteracy for many years, which negatively affects their personalities and causes immaturity or completeness in their aspects, and also leads to their lack of awareness of the importance of educating their children, which makes us face a vicious circle of illiteracy.
3- Social repercussions:
The phenomenon of school dropout causes the spread of dangerous social behaviors such as delinquency, theft, assaulting property, and committing crimes and acts of violence.
Failure to complete education also affects the personality of individuals and makes them fragile and easy to attract and convince them of any tendentious trends, whether economic, social or political.
School Dropout also leads to the continuation of the spread of ignorance and the domination of customs, traditions and misconceptions that limit the development of society and the achievement of the desired growth.
The fifth axis: the efforts of Egypt in confronting the school dropout
Egypt is striving to develop the educational process and confront its obstacles, the most prominent of which is the phenomenon of school dropout, which constitutes the biggest obstacle to getting rid of illiteracy. The legislative and executive efforts of the state in this file are as follows:
1- The 2014 Constitution: Article 19 of the 2014 Constitution expands the right to free education mentioned in previous constitutions, as it states that education is a right for every citizen, and its aim is to build the Egyptian character, preserve national identity, and instill the values of citizenship, tolerance and non-discrimination, and the state is committed to “ By allocating a percentage of government spending for education that is not less than 4% of the gross national product, gradually escalating until it is consistent with international rates and supervised by the state to ensure that all public and private schools and institutes adhere to their educational policies.
The 2014 constitution also calls in Article 20 for the expansion of technical and vocational education “according to international quality standards, and commensurate with the needs of the labor market.”
2-Sustainable Development Strategy 2030 (Education Axis): The sustainable development strategy established an entire axis for the development of education based on its main objective that “high-quality education is available to all without discrimination, efficient and fair, and contributes to building an integrated personality for a citizen who is proud of himself, enlightened, creative, responsible, respectful of difference and proud his homeland and is able to deal competitively with entities regionally and globally.
3- The elaboration of a strategic plan to declare Egypt free of illiteracy by 2030. The State has intensified its efforts in areas with a high population density within the framework of the “Dignified Life” initiative.
4- An online tele-learning platform created by the General Authority for Adult Education during the coronavirus pandemic, using various technological applications and made it available to students, in addition to organizing online literacy for rural areas in the governorates of the Republic.
5- Expanding the construction of public schools with the aim of reducing the density of classes, as it reached about 17,078 in the primary stage in 2021/2022, while it was 16,350 in 2017/2018. The number also increased in the preparatory stage, reaching about 11,127 in 2021/2022, compared to 10,160 in 2017/2018, as shown in the following figure, according to data from the Ministry of Education:
7- The expansion of the number of community education schools nationwide, as in 2021/2022 it reached about 4,912 schools, and the number of students enrolled in them decreased in 2021/2022, reaching about 140,224, compared to 136,272 in 2020/2021, and 106 781 in 2014/2015, as shown in the following two figures:
Girls constituted the largest percentage of enrollment in community education schools at 67.31%, followed by their percentage in commercial secondary schools at 57.70%, then general secondary at 55.18%, as shown in the following figure:
The percentage of girls enrolled in community education schools in rural areas was the highest at 69.65%, while in urban areas the percentage of girls was 56.5%, as shown in the following figure:
The sixth axis: proposals to address the problem of school dropout
There is no doubt that the Egyptian state has made real and sincere efforts to develop the educational system and to treat the problem of school dropout in particular, but more efforts can be made to confront this phenomenon by taking the following measures:
- Providing all forms of financial and in-kind support to help poor families who are unable to educate their children.
- Allowing students who have dropped out of education to enroll in school, regardless of their age.
- Supporting the participation of civil society organizations and the private sector in the educational system, especially with regard to increasing the number of classrooms and schools.
- Developing possible laws and measures that contribute to exempting the private sector and civil society institutions from taxes or part thereof on the funds they provide to support education systems in Egypt.
- Paying great attention to educational activities, as it is one of the most important factors that increase students’ sense of belonging to the school, and it also works to develop their skills and abilities to innovate, think and create.
- Educational rehabilitation of teachers to deal with students and educational disorders and address behavioral issues in schools, by paying attention to teacher rehabilitation programs in colleges and universities.
- Re-assigning students graduates of faculties of education to work in the Ministry of Education upon their graduation, with the aim of increasing the number of qualified teachers.
- Increasing the rate of support for education from the state’s general budget, which helps in increasing the number of schools and classrooms and improving the material conditions of teachers.
- Finding mechanisms and means of cooperation between the state, civil society institutions and the private sector to help the most needy families bear the burdens and costs of their children’s education.
- Reactivating the role of parents’ councils and trustees in schools, while working on devising various methods to provide all aspects of assistance and financial support to families most in need, who may resort in the future to employing children and dropping out of school.