Recently, while I was out for grocery shopping (apparently, we had a peanut butter emergency!), I bumped into an old college friend. Once a college topper and now a journalist in Egypt, Saira is a mother of two beautiful children (5-year-old Ryan and 3-year-old Hazel).
What started out as a quick lunch turned out to be one of the most enlightening conversations I have had in a while. Saira told me about her life in Egypt and about the preschools and education system there, after hearing what she had to say I had to write about it.
Early childhood education in Egypt
Deep-seated in the Arabic culture, Egyptian preschools were established way back in the 20th century. While schooling is mandatory in Egypt from age 6 to14, most preschools accept children from the minimum age of 2 to 3 years. As it happens, there are a lot many children who never get an opportunity to attend school.
In Egypt, some schools are attached to private entities and then there are others which are sponsored by the Ministry of Social Affairs. The private preschools are slightly high-priced whereas the sponsored preschools are widespread and affordable; however, they lack both resources and personnel.
In the best preschools and best play school franchises, the Egyptian system lays more emphasis on the physical, ethical, social and emotional development of children instead of “academic” learning. Also, at the preschool level, children are not given any homework.
The home education philosophy was once prevalent in Egypt. However, over time it vanished with more and more women entering the workforce. At present, play school franchises and child care centers in the country accept children who are as young as two months. However, the “Child Keepers” at these facilities lack both skill and competence required for early childhood education and care.
In the olden days, several Egyptian preschools had activities that were designed to teach the little children about religious values and social cooperation. Today, 60 percent of their time is spent on pre-academic activities and the remaining percentage of time is spent in language based activities. The language based activities are incorporated as a part of the curriculum to induce a sense of patriotism and love towards their mother tongue. These activities include poetry, storytelling, music, singing and rhyming activities.
Owing to Egypt’s multi-ethnic and multilingual heritage, not only are the preschoolers introduced to numerical skills using ‘letters and sounds’ and ‘Abacus’ they are also taught languages like English and French in addition to Arabic.
While my friend Saira was explaining how the Egyptians give a lot of importance to religious influence in schooling, I noticed how much an Egyptian child could benefit from a preschool development program by QualityKG (one of the best preschool accreditation agencies).
At QualityKG, it is strongly believed that learning should be a comprehensive and holistic process that helps a child connect with teachers, peers and the community without any inhibitions. QualityKG preschool accreditation standards encourage preschools to give children the freedom to explore their creativity, solve problems, ask and answer questions, interact with classmates and adults. In this process, they learn how to engage with the teacher and each activity provides the child with a “key experience” that fosters not only necessary skills but also inculcates certain developmental abilities.
QualityKG accredited preschool development programs train teachers to focus on multi-sensory learning. A child can learn a lot more from touching, seeing, smelling, tasting and exploring when compared to just reading or writing.
In Egypt, the highly influenced lingual heritage combined with the child-centric preschool accreditation standards adopted by QualityKG accredited preschools can bring about a generation of incredibly intellectual young minds who’ll grow up to do remarkable things for themselves and for the society as well.