Education in Egypt is divided into a general schooling system and an Islamic schooling system known as the Al-Azhar system. General education consists of public, private and international schools.

Public and tertiary education are free for all children, but public schools in Egypt remain at a low standard overall, and expats are unlikely to consider them. Luckily, there are many good international school options across Egypt, particularly in Cairo and Alexandria.

Public schools in Egypt

School children at desks

Egypt has the largest education system in Africa, and the government has been working to improve the standard of schooling available. There are frequent reforms to the education system, with some measures praised while others have been widely criticised.

Public education in Egypt is separated into several phases:

  • Kindergarten: Schooling begins with the basic education phase at ages 4 and 5.
  • Primary school: Thereafter, children move to primary school between the ages of 6 and 12.
  • Preparatory school: Students aged between 13 and 15 move on to the next phase of education, where their academic results determine their secondary schooling options.
  • Secondary school: The final phase takes place between the ages of 15 and 18 in secondary school. Secondary schooling can be undertaken at technical, vocational or general schools.

In Egyptian public schools, the language of instruction is Arabic. This, in combination with the low quality of education offered, leads many expat families to opt for private or international schools instead.

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Private schools in Egypt

Some private schools in Egypt follow a curriculum similar to that taught at public schools, but these schools tend to have better facilities and teachers, so children will generally get a better education here than at a public school. On the other hand, some schools teach alternative curricula based on particular educational or religious philosophies.

While private schools may offer local and international students a higher quality of education, private schools are fee-paying institutions, making them pricier than public schools. Still, private schools remain more affordable than international schools.

International schools in Egypt

International schools in Egypt are private schools that teach a foreign curriculum. The most commonly taught curricula are that of the UK, USA and the International Baccalaureate, but there are also many more options, including French, German, Canadian, Pakistani and others.

These schools are frequently oversubscribed, and some are academically selective, so it's best to start the application process as far in advance as possible. Before committing, parents should also be aware that international school fees tend to be high.

While the benefits are usually worth the hefty price, it's essential first to ensure that it can fit into the budget. If moving to Egypt for work purposes, it's a good idea to try to negotiate an education allowance into their relocation contract.

Read more about International Schools in Egypt.

Special-needs education in Egypt

special needs education

While Egypt has recognised a need for inclusive education and support for students with different educational needs, this is still sorely lacking in the education system. This has mostly boiled down to a lack of understanding and awareness in Egypt around special needs and disability.

That said, a new curriculum for children with special educational needs has been launched, and hopefully this will lead to inclusive mainstream schooling where children with special educational needs receive the support they need while being taught alongside their peers.

There are several schools specifically for children with special educational needs in Egypt that parents can consider. A limited number of international schools in Egypt also offer additional support, but expat parents should find out exactly what this entails before enrolling.

Useful links

Tutors in Egypt

Parents shouldn't struggle to find a tutor for their child in Egypt. Tutors are available for support in specific subjects, learning Arabic or adjusting to a new curriculum. There are many online tutor companies that parents can consider, most of which offer online or at-home private tutoring. Private Tutors Egypt is an example of one such company.

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