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Extending public-private education

The second phase of the public-private partnership programme to build 1,000 new language schools has been launched, reports Ahmed Abdel-Hafez

Ahmed Abdel-Hafez , Tuesday 27 Oct 2020
Extending public-private education
Extending public-private education
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The Ministry of Education launched the second phase of its public-private partnership (PPP) programme to build 1,000 language schools up until the year 2030 this week, with these offering quality education to Egyptian students.

Investment in this phase is estimated at LE1.3 billion, Atter Hanoura, head of the Ministry of Finance’s central unit for PPP, told Al-Ahram Weekly.

The PPP programme targets middle-income families by offering high-quality education at lower prices than those offered by private schools.

The government has been receiving bids for prequalification from companies and consortiums wishing to participate in the PPP programme to build and operate 98 second-phase schools, after which the government will start receiving requests to participate in bids to identify the land on which the schools will be built.

The PPP model enables the private sector to build and operate schools on government-allocated land for a period of up to 30 years, before transferring ownership to the Education Ministry.  

Hanoura said the participating companies would be chosen according to technical, financial, funding and legal qualifications in order to ensure that the bidders would be able to offer high-quality education, have experience in the field, and have not been subject to legal or financial problems.

The bids will not go to entities that lack the experience to provide high-quality education to students, but will go to those able to contribute to improving education services, he added.

According to a joint statement from the finance and education ministries, the 98 new schools will be in the governorates of Minya, South Sinai, Sohag, Aswan, Luxor, Beni Sweif, and three Canal cities.

The geographical distribution will take into account the student population and will extend to new urban communities such as New Cairo, New Assiut, New Borg Al-Arab, New Damietta, and New Fayoum.

Private-sector companies that win the bids will design, build, operate, and fund the schools, providing maintenance and education services for 30 years before they are taken back into full public ownership.

A senior official at the Ministry of Education told the Weekly that the project was meant to increase classrooms countrywide and decrease class sizes by 50 per cent. The second phase would provide between 4,000 and 5,000 new classrooms over two years, he said.

The first phase of the PPP project included 54 schools in 16 governorates across Egypt. The majority have become operational this academic year, winning the preferences of many households, according to the PPP official.

The second phase includes three bids of between 50 to 60 language schools, allocations of land for participating international schools; and special-needs schools. Language schools attract households that wish to enroll their children in schools other than experimental and governmental schools and have smaller class sizes.

In the second phase of the PPP programme, the Ministry of Education was adding a number of international schools for households wishing to provide their children with an international education but not being able to afford private international schools, the official explained, adding that fees at PPP international schools are estimated at 50 per cent of their private counterparts.

The Ministry of Education is a partner of the private sector in determining school fees and annual increases.

The private sector has largely monopolised international education in Egypt, which was why there had been significant rises in the fees charged by private international schools, the official said, adding that these often prevent middle-class students from receiving quality international education.

The government is partnering with the private sector in the project notably by offering the land on which the schools are being built, which according to economic studies should help to decrease school fees by 30 per cent.

Schools operating under the PPP programme are supervised by the Ministry of Education, which will participate in choosing teachers and curricula. The ministry will facilitate the acquisition of the construction and operation permits necessary to operate the schools, according to the technical standards of the Ministry of Education and the financial qualifications set by the Ministry of Finance.

 

*A version of this article appears in print in the 29 October, 2020 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly

 

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