Published on Arab Voices

One school sets an example for changes in public education in Egypt

“Education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world.” Nelson Mandela

Almarag SchoolIn 2014, a Cooperation Protocol was signed by the Egyptian Ministry of Education, the International Baccalaureate (IB) Organization, and the Oasis International school, a private school established in 1989 to build a model public school known as the Egyptian International School—El Marag, offering the IB program.

Our aim was to restore the tradition of excellence in public schools and train new generations of Egyptians who could take charge of their country’s future. This model has had the positive effect of tapping into the cultures and characteristics of our society’s citizens, as it strives to engage students, teachers, administrators, and parents. 

Given the large number of public schools in Egypt (about 50,000, according to recent figures), to ensure its success, the first phase of education at El Maraq covers pre-school and primary school—the main idea is to replicate this model by employing teachers certified in this new teaching method, or pedagogy, after they have taught for a minimum of two years in this new system. These teachers will then be able to disseminate this style of pedagogy to their colleagues.  The same model can then be followed for administrators and partners with respect to the transfer of knowledge, skills, and practices.

Education at El Maraq school allows all students to be anchored in their own culture through instruction being given in their mother tongue, Arabic, at the same time as they are being provided a holistic world view. Students start learning English from age four.

We worked in the following areas to build a solid foundation:

Equipment and Facilities: We equipped classrooms, laboratories, and workrooms with smartboards, projectors, screens, and computers to create an active learning setting. All students, beginning in the fifth grade (age 11/12years) have been receiving their own iPads to use to add to learning methods at school and at home. The Bibliothèque Centre de Documentation (BCD), or media center, is well stocked with books on all subjects.

Students and Families: Students take an aptitude entrance examination, and the style of education is provided to prospective parents to secure their buy-in, given that this system is different from what they know. This is followed with training sessions, particularly concerning our continuous assessment methods, which we use instead of end-of-session examinations and rote memorization. Parents have opted for this change, and for giving up private tutoring (outside school). All parents have made a commitment to do 20 hours of project-related service a year to support their communities (in literacy and retraining).

Teachers and Administrators: Following a selection process, teachers and administrators who joined the school were required to pledge to follow certain models in terms of behavior (for example, pledging not to provide private tutoring); appearance (wearing uniforms and receiving etiquette training); and know-how (receiving intensive training in differentiated instruction, education-without-walls, formative and summative assessment, new technologies, and positive discipline).
Teachers and administrators worked in pairs with their colleagues from the Oasis International School at weekly meetings. They drafted the vision of the school and the strategic five-year plan.

After only a year, the mentality of families changed.  This style of education has had a positive impact on people’s daily lives. Day after day, our students are developing essential human qualities, such as respect, assertiveness, altruism, research skills, and open-mindedness. The ultimate goal is to disseminate this model to all the governorates of Egypt.

To this end, a pedagogical and administrative structure must be established in Egypt, using international criteria to establish a council composed of five departments, each with a specific objective to ensure the development and quality control of this project. The structure needs to include a department of Teacher and Training Affairs; of Parents’ Service and a Training Academy; of School Service; of New Technologies; and of Communications (internal and external).

Lastly, distinctions must be made between those schools that are to be established in the future, and existing schools transitioning to this new system. In the case of the latter, a program for the scholastic communities of these schools needs to be implemented to help them embrace the process of change and make the change to this new education system as seamless as possible. 

El Maraq school attests to the fact that this change is possible. 


Esmat Lamei

Founder and Director of the Groupe Scolaire Oasis

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