File photo of Egypt President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi (Reuters)
Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi says the government cannot put an overhaul of the country's poor education system high on its agenda, saying Egypt has insufficient resources to do so.
"The country's resources are scarce... and the challenges are huge," El-Sisi told a seminar on education during a three-day national youth conference that kicked off on Tuesday.
Obstacles such as high rates of population growth, slums and a high unemployment rate, would hold the country back from adopting needed reforms to overhaul the flawed system, he told the gathering at the Red Sea resort of Sharm El-Sheikh.
"Would Egyptians accept having all available cash be put in [education] and have other issues wait?" he wondered.
"Would the youth wait while the country remains at a standstill or go out [in the streets] because they want to make a living?"
In response to questions posed by attendees, who suggested Egypt adopt measures that have been successful in other countries, El-Sisi urged the youth to take into consideration the country's flagging economic situation before proposing a solution, and to think of how much a proposed initiative would cost and how it can be funded.
Minister of High Education Ashraf Shiha, who took part in Tuesday's seminar, said the government's current plan includes working to integrate modern technology into the Egyptian education system, adding that internet speed and the number of computers have been increased at state-run universities.
The minister said that the government is also looking to link state-run schools with the Bank of Knowledge, a state-funded project launched earlier this year that provides free access to net-based research resources.
Over 23 percent of Egyptians above the age of 15 years are illiterate, according to September data from the country's official statistics agency.
More than 12 percent of Egyptians were unemployed in late 2015, with the figure standing at 28 percent for young people.