The Arab Republic of Egypt is located on the northeast Mediterranean coast of Africa. It is bordered by Libya, Sudan, the Red Sea, Israel and Gaza. The population is estimated at 80,335,036 and the literacy rate is 74%. The majority of Egyptians are Sunni
Muslim with large Coptic and Christian populations. Arabic is the official language with Berber and Coptic also spoken; English and French is widely spoken among educated Egyptians.
There has been human habitation in Egypt since the Paleolithic area. Egypt became part of the Byzantine empire in the 7th century, but in 639 AD was invaded by Muslim Arabs who introduced Islam and the Arabic language. The Suez Canal was completed in
1869 and Egypt became a world transportation and trading hub. Egypt became a British protectorate in 1882 until it gained full independence after World War II.
Religious authorities have historically provided basic education in the local mosque schools. In 1970, the Higher Islamic studies were founded at the Al-Azhar mosque in Cairo. The oldest university in the world is Al-Azhar University which was founded
in 988 AD. The Al-Azhar University provides a network of religious schools which parallels the state educational system. A state educational system for boys was established in 1867 followed an educational system for girls in 1873. Muhammad Ali established
the state system for professional, technical, and foreign language schools for boys in the early 1900s.
The Egyptian educational system follows two paths. The secular system is under the Ministry of Education and the Al-Azhar system of Islamic education is under the authority of the Ministry of Al-Azhar Affairs. In the Al-Azhar system, students are segregated
by sex at all grade levels. Each group follows the same curriculum and syllabus as those in the MOE schools, with the exception of the study of the Koran. All private institutions fall under the realm of the Ministry of Education and are mandated
to follow the curriculum prescribed for the public schools.
In the 1999-2000 academic year, primary school was expanded to 6 years from 5 years and, beginning with the 2005-2006 academic year, primary and secondary education represents 12 years of education.
Compulsory education begins at age 6 and ends at age 14. Primary school, grades 1-6, begins at age 6 and is 6 years long. Upon completion, students are awarded a Shehadet Al-Ibtidaiya and students in the Al-Azhar system are awarded an Shehadet Al-Ibtidaiya Al-Azharia.
Preparatory school (lower secondary) is 3 years long (Grades 7-9) and students are awarded a Shehadet Al-Iadadaiya or an Shehadet Al-Iadadaiya Al-Azharia in the Al-Azhar system. Students are given 2 chances to pass this exam; if they fail
a second time, they must repeat Grade 9.
There are several options for upper secondary students. General upper secondary school is 3 years long and students are awarded a Thanaweya a'Amma. There are two types of technical upper secondary schools; one is a 3-year program and students are
awarded a Shehadet Thanawiya Zeraiya, Shehadet Thanawiya Togaraiya, or a Shehadet Thanawiya Senaiya, depending on their field of study. A 5-year technical upper secondary school provides more advanced training in a technical field
and students are awarded an Advanced Technical Diploma upon completion. In the Al-Azhar system, students follow the same curriculum as the general upper secondary schools, but with more emphasis on the Islamic studies. Upon completion, students are
awarded an Shehadet Thanawiya Azharia.
Post-secondary educational options are offered at institutes and universities. Industrial, commercial and technical institutes offer 2-year programs in accounting, secretarial studies, insurance, computer science, health science, and electronics. Admission
requires a Technical Secondary Education Certificate in a commercial, industrial or agricultural field. Upon completion, students are awarded a Diploma. Higher institutes offer 4 to 5-year program for holders of an Advanced Technical Diploma with
a grade of 75% or above.
In 1908, Cairo University was established and is Egypt's leading institution for higher education today. There are currently 12 public state universities throughout Egypt that offer programs of engineering, business administration, agriculture and medicine.
Each of these 12 institutions is affiliated to the Supreme Council of Universities. There are also currently 4 private universities which do not carry the affiliation to the Supreme Council. Women gained entrance to these institutions in 1962. The
American University of Cairo is a private institution and the only one that charges tuition. The American University of Cairo is also accredited by the Middle States Association in the United States. The Institute of Dramatic Arts, Cinema, and Ballet
is administered by the Ministry of Culture and is the only higher education institution that offers fine arts programs.
Public and private universities offer programs of study throughout the doctoral level. Admission to a university requires a General Secondary Education Certificate or an Advanced Technical Diploma with a score of 75% or higher. Private universities set
their own admission requirements and fees without consulting the Ministry of Higher Education. The Ministry of Higher Education coordinates and supervises post-secondary education, but the Supreme Council of Universities sets the overall policy of
higher education and science research in the universities and determines the number of students admitted in each faculty.
Undergraduate studies are 4-6 years long, depending on the field of study. Medical studies are 6 years long, in additional to a year of practical work. Students are awarded a baccalaureos or a licence upon completion. There are two types
of post-graduate study: diploma programs and master's programs. Diploma programs are 1-2 years long and do not require a thesis. They are not considered to be equivalent to master's programs in Egypt; however a holder of two diplomas is considered
to be equivalent to a Master's degree. Magistr programs are 2 years long and require a thesis defense. It should be noted that the transcripts on the Magistr programs only show the courses passed during the first year, but typically
do not list grades. The second year of a Magistr program is the thesis. The title of the thesis will appear on a transcript if all the requirements have been met.
Doctoral level programs are 2-5 years long and require a Magistr for admission. Most students take three to four years. Some doctoral programs require coursework beyond the Magistr, but many others do not. No comprehensive exams are required.
The entire program, when coursework is not required, is devoted to research in an appropriate topic. Upon successful defense of a dissertation, students are awarded a Doktura. Doktura holders in science who have at least 5 years of substantial
research in a field outside of their Magistr or Doktura research may be awarded a Doctor of Science. Doctors of Science is rarely awarded.
Since 1983, the Ministry of Education has required all primary and secondary education teachers hold a bachelor's degree in education. Previously, primary and secondary education teachers only had to hold a Basic Education Completion Certificate. Students
who hold a bachelor's degree in a field other than education can complete a one-year post-graduate diploma course in a Faculty of Education which allows them to teach at the secondary level.