Economic development plan has a higher education focus

Egypt has launched a development plan, Egypt 2022, which stresses the importance of higher education in sustainable, knowledge-based economic development.

The Ministry of Planning document was outlined in a 2 November article in the Daily News Egypt.

“The whole higher education system in Egypt, with all its universities and institutions, seems to be in the worst condition. All parties are unsatisfied with the outcomes, whether students, faculty members, government or society,” the report stated.

The weak status and performance of Egypt's higher education system was shown in the World Economic Forum’s 2012-13 Global Competiveness Report, which indicated that out of 144 countries Egypt was ranked 114 for the quality of research institutions, 109 for higher education and training, 109 for innovation, 91 for technological readiness, 139 for maths and science education, and 61 for the availability of scientists and engineers.

Reform plan

Among other things, the plan focuses on reforming higher education and research.

It calls for diversifying sources of higher education funds, independence for institutions – especially universities – greater flexibility in student and staff activities, and ensuring values and ethics in the higher education system.

The reform plan encourages the expansion of higher education in order to improve access and satisfy demand for higher education among youth, and the establishment of non-profit civil universities.

The plan also calls for applying specific mechanisms to measure the educational process, accountability for negligence and the rewarding of excellence. It specifies the required reform programmes and the entities responsible for their execution, along with monitoring its implementation and evaluating results and correcting the track, if necessary.

The plan includes setting flexible programmes to benefit from the skills and knowledge of immigrants, and to “attract promising young scientists who choose immigration to improve their scientific and social positions”, and to involve them in developing “national technological and scientific structure”.

"Establishing quality research centres” with their own dedicated research staff and “cooperating with scientists and experts in [other] universities and research centres”, were two of the suggestions incorporated in the plan.

The plan suggested that teaching staff and researchers with authority in research centres be promoted after spending an adequate period of time working in their fields, in order to comply with the system applied in a number of universities and research centres in advanced countries.

In order to enhance the role of the business community in supporting scientific research projects within universities, the plan calls for "reviewing and developing legislation that encourages scientific research", especially legislation which deals with taxes and intellectual property protection.

It calls for enhanced cooperation among all research and development institutions, universities and the industrial sector, ensuring the development of scientific, educational and technological capacity – on regional, national and international levels and among Arab regions and countries.

The way forward

The strategy will be submitted to cabinet for approval of its programmes and budgets. It will then be submitted to parliament in order that it might be signed into law. This will ultimately provide legal backing for the part of the strategy that concerns financing, organisation and quality assurance.