Speaking at the World Youth Forum (WYF) on Monday, Egypt's President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi suggested that civil servants in Egypt may not get an annual wage increase this year as the government is planning on using funds to build new classrooms in overcrowded schools.
At the ‘How to Build Future Leaders’ session on the WYF's second day in Sharm El-Sheikh, El-Sisi said that Egypt needs to provide 250,000 new classrooms at a cost of EGP 130 billion to accommodate an annual increase of 700,000 students.
"This is a challenge we must face until the end and a problem that we should solve. I am going to say something difficult; let us make cuts in all the ministries. I'm going to say something even more difficult; let us not give raises this year to [state] employees in Egypt," the president said.
State employees in Egypt receive a raise at the end of every fiscal year, which runs from July to June.
"Countries are not built by wishes, countries are built only through hard work, effort, and suffering," the president added.
Egypt has been implementing tough economic reforms under a $12 billion IMF loan deal reached in 2016 with the aim of attracting foreign investment.
Under the IMF deal, Egypt also devalued its currency and has been gradually cutting energy subsidies.
Last Month, Egypt's Minister of Education Tarek Shawki said that a total of EGP 100 billion is required to solve the issue of overcrowded classrooms at public schools.
Overcrowded classrooms in Egypt have been a pressing challenge for the country's educational system in recent years, with classes exceeding 100 students in some schools.
The Ministry of Education said in 2017 that international education competitiveness reports ranked Egypt 134 out of 139 countries on the quality index of primary education, and 28 out of 139 countries in the total enrolment of students in primary education.