Egypt will launch tutoring programmes at public schools in the next academic year, Education Minister Reda Hegazy said, in a move that offers parents an alternative to widely popular private tutorial centres.
The extra classes are intended to “help improve students’ performance in school and remove burdens off their families”, Mr Hegazy said.
Many families in Egypt enrol their children in private tutoring centres to supplement their in-school learning, which many parents feel is inadequate.
Mr Hegazy told the Senate last week that such centres pose “the biggest challenge” in improving the education system.
The size of the tutorial classes in public schools will be limited to ensure that all students are given equal attention by the teacher, Mr Hegazy said.
Parents often complain that the private tutorial classes are too large, which makes it difficult for the teachers to address problems of individual students.
“I would seriously consider moving my children to a government-run tutoring centre if they can promise to control class sizes,” Sabah Hassanein, 45, a mother of three, told The National.
Mr Hegazy said teachers at government schools would be recruited for the tutorial programme based on their track record, and that students would have a say in selecting the teachers.
Teachers not working in government schools will also be recruited for the programme, up to a limit of 40 per cent of the teaching staff, he said.
The Education Ministry has said fees for these extra classes would range between 20 and 80 Egyptian pounds ($0.60-$2.60) per lesson.
Mr Hegazy said 80 per cent of the fees would go towards paying the teachers and 20 per cent will be collected as tax by the Finance Ministry.
A 50 per cent discount will be given to students whose parents work in Egypt’s education sector, he said.
A ministry committee is finalising the logistics of the programme, including which schools would host the tutorial classes. They will be chosen based on availability of space and resources, and whether they are easily accessible to most students in a school district.
Private tutoring centres, which constitute a multibillion-dollar industry in Egypt, have long been at odds with the country’s official school system.
The Education Ministry said in October that it would start issuing licences to private centres in a bid to incorporate them into the official system.
However, private centres resisted the move because of the fees the ministry planned to charge.
The ministry backtracked on its decision weeks later. Mr Hegazy told parliament that this was done because of fears over private centres’ teaching methods and that they might render public schools obsolete.