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Frustrated parents scrimp and save to pay for private tutorials.Teachers, who usually earn no more than 1,600 Egyptian pounds (1) a month, often rely on that extra income.
Indicating weaknesses in the system, Egypt had no universities in the 2010 Academic Ranking of World Universities, a ranking of the top 500 institutions.
In rival markets, South Africa had three, Saudi Arabia had two and Turkey had one.
Edu Egypt is due to be replaced within a few years by a broader program that includes curriculum developed by IBM and other firms.
Oracle and Microsoft have also been involved in helping develop education programs.
The government is trying to narrow the gap, including a $10-12 million program set up by the Information Technology Industry Development Agency (ITIDA) in 2008 to teach university students English, Microsoft software and other skills.
The Edu Egypt program trained 3,000 students in its first year, and aims to train 40,000 graduates per year by 2011, according to information from ITIDA, a Communications Ministry body set up to promote and nurture Egypt’s offshoring industry.
High school teaching, based mostly on rote, does not give students practical skills, leaving them unprepared for college and hindering their transition to the workplace.
If the Arab world’s most populous country is to extend a run of economic growth, now edging back to 6 percent a year, the roughly 300,000 university graduates churned out annually must be better prepared.
So when they enter the workforce, they don’t have the skills for jobs in banking or technology, the kind of fields where Egypt is seeking to become a regional power center.
The United Nations Development Program’s (UNDP) 2010 Human Development Report highlighted the weaknesses in university education, saying more than 40 percent of employers ranked graduates’ ability to apply their knowledge to work as “poor.” The UNDP report said at least 90 percent of Egypt’s unemployed were under 30, saying this was “high by any measure.” Many youth resorted to the informal market indicating the mismatch between education and labor market needs, it added.