Working Papers

Is Free Basic Education in Egypt a Reality or a Myth?

Publication Number: ECES-WP179-E

February, 2015

Author : Ragui Assaad and Caroline Krafft

Type : Working Papers

Egypt has made enormous progress in ensuring that students enter school. Yet low school quality and limited learning in school remain persistent problems. The poor quality of schooling and inefficiencies within the education system are substantial obstacles to success in basic education. As a result, while education is theoretically free, families often supplement public education expenditures with their own spending to ensure children learn and succeed in school. Thus, the important question that this paper investigates is whether free basic education is a reality or a myth in Egypt—can students succeed, regardless of their circumstances, and without additional spending? The paper begins with an examination of inequality in completing a basic education. The costs of basic education are then investigated, in terms of education supplements such as private schooling and private tutoring. Differences in school success and education supplements are examined by gender, socio-economic status, and place of residence to illustrate how the need to supplement publicly provided basic education contributes to unequal opportunities for young Egyptians. The paper concludes with a discussion of policies and programs that could help equalize opportunities for school success and improve quality and efficiency of education for all in Egypt.