The recent Cabinet reshuffle has seen a number of new faces enter the inner sanctum of politics, including new Education Minister, Tarek Shawky. After only 16 months at the job, public criticism towards the previous Education Minister, ElHelaly ElSherbini had been growing. Despite education being recognized as one of Egypt’s biggest problem areas, ElSherbini failed to present a clear strategy for improving the school system. The biggest scandal since ElSherbini took office was of course the leaking of the General Certificate tests on Social Media prior to students taking the exam last year. Hopefully the newly appointed Tarek Shawky can bring us the needed changes to stop the Egyptian education system from being a scandalous embarrassment, and allow it to become a system that actually cultivates the talents of the Egyptian youth. And from looking at his impressive résumé, this could just be more than empty dreams!
Minister Shawky was a Professor at the University of Illinois in the US and later a Dean at the AUC, he has also had a role as an educational specialist within the Egyptian Council for Education and Scientific Research, demonstrating a level of experience for the position of Education Minister which previous Ministers did not have. Minister Shawky recently wowed the public with his open and honest talk on Ted-X Cairo where he expressed his passion for knowledge, comparing himself to a child eager to learn about the world. His genuine and undeterred love for education has been taken by Egyptians as a symbol of hope for the failing system.
During his time as an educational specialist, Shawky was outspoken about his opposition to the way that the Egyptian education system is run. Shawky has stated that he will attempt to significantly change the system, remodeling it on the far more successful Finnish and Singaporean education systems, which if achievable would be revolutionary! His view for example, that certificates are small milestones as opposed to the very purpose of education is a huge break away from the qualification-obsessed culture that we have grown accustomed to. For Shawky encouraging innovation and creativity seem to be at the forefront of his educational vision. Although it is very early days, and the extent to which he can make these changes whilst surrounded by a slow-moving bureaucratic system remains to be seen, his appointment is still definitely a step in the right direction. Education should be one of the government’s priorities and finally we have someone who might just be up to the job!
Watch the Ted-X Video here: