The Case for Decentralization as a Tool for Improving Quality in Pre-University Education in Egypt



  • To what extent decentralization in education can improve the quality of education (creative and critical thinking skills, quality of books and curricula, infrastructure in schools, and school governance, etc.)?
  • What are the forms of decentralization in education most appropriate for Egypt?
  • What role would decentralization give to the private sector and civil society?


Despite the general consensus on the poor quality of education in Egypt, there is no public discourse on the roots of the problem. In addition, the poor quality of most of the state education system, and the widespread reliance on private tutoring to supplement it, also contribute to Egypt’s high level of economic inequality, raising concerns about social justice.

In order to trigger and shape public debate on basic education and to manifest society’s call for its reform, ECES is implementing a project that examines structural problems in Egypt’s basic education system and provides high quality insight into the economic costs of its current state. The research results will be disseminated through high level roundtables and through both traditional and new social media channels.

One of the main shortcomings in our pre-university education system, its outputs and deliverables, is its high degree of centralization. Centralization and decentralization are best conceived as two opposite points on a continuum, where centralization refers to the concentration of power at the top level of the organization and decentralization refers to the extent decisions are taken at lower levels. The question usually is not whether to centralize or to decentralize, but rather the degree of going one way or the other.