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Transforming Education in Egypt

Transforming Education in Egypt: Western Influence and Domestic Policy Reform

Fatma H. Sayed
Copyright Date: 2006
Pages: 192
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  • Book Info
    Transforming Education in Egypt
    Book Description:

    Basic education—considered essential for building democratic societies and competitive economies—has headed the agendas of development agencies in recent years. During the same period, Egypt topped the lists of recipients of development assistance and proclaimed education to be its national project. In Transforming Education in Egypt, political scientist Fatma Sayed explains how Egyptian domestic political actors have interacted with and reacted to international development aid to Egypt’s educational system, particularly when that aid is linked to sensitive issues of reform and cultural change. In recent years, international donors have called for changes that are inconsistent with the functions, structures and culture of Egyptian institutions, resulting in a climate of suspicion surrounding foreign aid to education. In this penetrating analysis, Sayed looks at how problems are diagnosed and reforms implemented and resisted. As Sayed demonstrates, the low level of ownership and consensus among the various domestic actors and the failure to establish strategic coalitions to support the reforms result in poor implementation and incomplete internalization. Policy makers have to date not succeeded in achieving the minimum level of domestic consensus essential for embedding the values and culture that bring about true reform. From the debate over free education to conspiracy theories and the evolving definition of international norms, this book sheds new light on the conflict of ideas that surrounds donor-sponsored reforms.

    eISBN: 978-1-61797-541-7
    Subjects: Education, Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-x)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-xii)
  4. List of Abbreviations
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
  5. Introduction: Why Study the Influence of International Organizations on the Transformation of Education in Egypt?
    (pp. 1-6)

    “Egypt is the black hole of development assistance.” These were the words of an international development agency official, when I mentioned that I was conducting my study of the impact of development assistance on basic education policies in Egypt during the 1990s. Similar statements have been repeatedly disputed by the Egyptian state and by development agencies and analyzed by academics and developmentalists. The main question is: Why does development assistance work or fail? The failure or success of aid has engaged public discourse in Egypt for many years and the debate has often been oriented toward the conspiracy theory, claims...

  6. Part 1: International Norms and Domestic Policy Development

    • Chapter 1 Development Assistance and the International Socialization of Basic Education Reforms in the 1990s
      (pp. 9-22)

      This chapter presents the theoretical framework of the analysis and examines the concept of ‘international community,’ its foundations and objectives. It also introduces the concepts of ‘international socialization’ and ‘domestic resonance.’ I look at the prevailing developmental ideology of the international community and the role of education as an agent and a subject of international socialization. I then investigate how the international community aims to achieve its philosophy of development and vision of globalization through international socialization; in other words, how socialization is used to spread the vision of development held by the international community. In this context, I look...

    • Chapter 2 External and Internal Security Pressures and their Implications for Decision-Making in Basic Education
      (pp. 23-40)

      It is essential to understand the contextual variables relating to the historical background, foreign policy orientations, and national security issues that influence domestic actors in the field of basic education in Egypt. Such variables have a bearing on education policy initiation and formulation, and urge domestic decision-makers to choose one specific set of reforms over another. By identifying and assessing these variables, we can also understand whether these specific reforms were inspired by donors, dictated by the state’s political and economic orientations, or a combination of both.

      Moreover, collective beliefs about the historical role of foreign powers in setting education...

  7. Part 2: Development Assistance Versus Domestic Opposition:: The Conflict of Ideas

    • Chapter 3 The Philosophy of Development and Its Impact on Development Assistance Directed to Basic Education
      (pp. 43-82)

      In this chapter I investigate the various concepts of development and the normative orders that competed to influence education reform plans in Egypt during the 1990s, in order to assess the level of domestic consensus regarding internationally promoted educational reforms. The existence of such a domestic consensus on the core concept of development and the values of the reforms is crucial for the effective implementation, internalization, and eventual sustainability of reform. Such a consensus would lead to a high level of domestic consensus among domestic political and social actors and increase the likelihood of their accepting the value system inherent...

    • Chapter 4 Conditionality, the Conspiracy Theory, and International Cooperation
      (pp. 83-122)

      The implementation, internalization, and sustainability of policy reforms are all influenced by the social, cultural, and political context in which they are introduced. In effect, the conditionality of development assistance is a major contextual variable that influences international cooperation in basic education. It contributes to a discourse of mistrust in development assistance and public policies related to it and prevents the achievement of a satisfactory level of ‘domestic resonance.’ In this chapter I define conditionality and examine its role in international socialization, and relate it to the concept of utility maximization espoused by ‘rationalist’ international relations theorists. In the course...

    • Chapter 5 Development Assistance and the Concept of Participation in Basic Education
      (pp. 123-142)

      Democratization of development and ownership of reforms are two major values universally promoted by international development agencies that endorse community participation models in various fields of development including basic education. In practice most international organizations have directly and indirectly promoted and sponsored civil society in developing countries hoping that Non Governmental Organizations (NGOs) will eventually be “strong enough to articulate interests of their own” (Jacoby 2000).

      This chapter identifies the various external pressures (direct and indirect) on the Egyptian Ministry of Education to accept models of democratization, decentralization, and governance in education. I examine how the community participation model in...

  8. Chapter 6 Conclusion
    (pp. 143-150)

    This book sought to examine the process of international socialization of basic education policy reforms, through which development assistance agencies have promoted a set of key beliefs and objectives. International socialization has aimed at internalizing and habitualizing these norms within the Egyptian educational institution and making them part of daily operational procedures. As previously defined, socialization is the process by which actors internalize norms and habitualize them in daily institutional practices. These norms reflect the collective understanding and expectations about the appropriate behavior of actors that share a specific identity (Finnemore and Sikkink 1998).

    International organizations have aspired to socialize...

  9. Bibliography
    (pp. 151-170)
  10. Index
    (pp. 171-174)