5 September 2019
Daughter of Charity Sister Naglaa stands with students in St. Vincent de Paul School.
(photo: Hanaa Habib)
In the current edition of ONE, Magdy Samaan described some of the remarkable work being done Reclaiming Lives in Cairo’s poorest quarter. Here, he offers some additional impressions:
To have your child admitted in a private foreign language school in Egypt, you have to do more than just pay the fees. Most of these schools are expensive, but they also set requirements for admission based on the parents’ social level and education.
They conduct an interview with the parents to make sure that they come from certain social classes. This deprives students from poor backgrounds from receiving good education. They are left with only one choice: to enroll in a government school, where education has deteriorated greatly in the past few decades.
This has created opportunities for private schools in Egypt. It has become like a market, where service varies greatly in the level of education and expenses.
But education costs Egyptian families an increasing amount of their shrinking income. Even those who go to government schools often need private tutoring, because the quality of education is not the best. Students coming from poor families, who can’t join a private school or afford private courses, have a hard time succeeding.
In the past, there was kind of equality in education. Public school used to be the main place for most Egyptians. Sons from poor families had the chance for social mobility through education. But nowadays it has become harder and harder for them to keep up with those who have more money and can afford better schools.
But then is the Saint Vincent de Paul School in Cairo. Children whose parents are poor — such as garbage collectors — are welcomed in the school. They even get help in paying the fees. Some get a discount; others have the fees waived. It can make a tremendous difference.
But it isn’t easy. The school seeks donations to support the students who can’t afford the fees. Sadly, not many people are willing to help.
This remains a great challenge in Egypt. Seeing the good that Saint Vincent de Paul School accomplishes should inspire more people to support this kind of schooling. As one of the sisters told me, “If we all shut the door in front of them, where shall they go?”
Read more about the lives of Egyptians trying to get a good education in the July 2019 edition of ONE. And for an intimate glimpse of life in Egypt, check out the video below.