Egypt aims to cap private school fees

Ayat Al-Tawy , Wednesday 10 Sep 2014

Egypt's education ministry has introduced new regulations aimed to curb the constant rise in private school fees

(Photo: Al-Ahram Weekly)

Egypt's education ministry has passed new regulations aiming to curb the continuing hike in private education tution, allowing schools to take such a measure every five years.

The ministry on Tuesday passed amendments to a 2013 decision under which privately owned schools were allowed to push up their fees in two years' time, in a bid to curb the hefty cost of the country's non-public schools.

Soaring annual tuition of private and international schools in Egypt is one of the most insurmountable economic problems facing the country's middle and upper classes, against the backdrop of a faulty public education system in a country where the illiteracy rate remains high, at around 26 percent.

Tuition fees range from less than LE600 (approximately $85) and up to a whopping LE85,000 (approximately $12,000) for American and international education.

Under a separate decision issued early in July which set out the categories of the fee hike, the increase ranges from 3 percent for schools charging over LE4,000 annually and up to 17 percent for schools with annual fees of less than LE600.

The tuition ceiling, to be placed during the 2014/2015 academic year on both private and international schools, might still be subjected to later changes, said a ministry spokesperson.

"This varies according to financial researches conducted by the schools and the re-evaluation of their expenditures on things like construction and teachers' payment," spokesperson Hani Kamal told Ahram Online.

The ministry will then decide on a proportionate increase in a manner that does not give schools full sway over the matter, Kamal says.

"Regulations governing the works of private schools are adopted with complete transparency that neither is unfair towards school owners nor puts parents under the school owners' thumbs," he said.

Aside from some 51,000 public schools across Egypt, the Arab world's most populous country is estimated to have over 8,000 private schools, over a hundred of which are American or international.

Parents who cannot afford private schools struggle to pay for private tutorials — deemed a must to offset perceived low-quality public education.

The school year started earlier this month across several private schools in Egypt, with studies in state-run schools due to begin later this month.

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