Is Free Basic Education in Egypt a Myth?

Ragui Assaad, University of Minnesota
Caroline Krafft, University of Minnesota

Egypt, like many developing countries, has a policy of providing free education to all. Yet despite this policy, there is substantial private spending and purchase of education supplements. This paper investigates whether free basic education is a myth or a reality in Egypt. The discussion begins with an investigation of equity in access to and completion of basic education. The paper then investigates the costs of basic education, distinguishing between socio-economic and geographic groups in terms of spending on education supplements such as paying fees for private schooling, private lessons, or help groups, as well as the provision of family study help. While education is supposed to be free, substantial additional investment is often required by families to ensure children learn and succeed within the education system. The inadequacy of “free” public basic education is linked with low quality in basic education and unequal opportunities throughout the education system.

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Presented in Session 15: Education Issues in Developing Countries