INTERVIEW: Education for Life Achievements – Egypt – Al-Ahram Weekly
Two years ago, NI Capital, one of Egypt’s leading financial services companies, launched the Initial Public Offering (IPO) of the Egyptian National Charitable Education Fund.
The fund, named Education for Life Fund, is modeled after Islamic charitable foundations, or wawf, Ghada El-Nashar, its executive director, told Al-Ahram Weekly, adding that it is a national fund at non-profit which aims at sustainable development of education in Egypt.
With subscriptions worth LE 100 million from leading banks, companies and businessmen, it started its work in 2021.
Underwriters are investors and partners in education development, El-Nashar said, explaining that investments in the fund remain in the name of their owners, although they forgo returns forever or for a period of time. specific time, the latter being invested in projects in the education sector.
NI Capital manages the investment and the fund’s operations are overseen by the Egyptian Financial Supervisory Authority (EFSA).
Many projects start out strong and then fail because of the sustainability of funding. But the new fund is trying to overcome that by relying solely on income and keeping seed money intact while being invested for new returns, El-Nashar said.
The fund aims to improve all aspects of education, from school premises to study programs. It can build new schools and renovate dilapidated ones and make up for shortages of school furniture, equipment or teaching aids. It can also train teachers, buy copyrights, and fund scholarships for excellent students. It can support schools for students with special needs.
During its first year of operation, emphasis was placed on technical schools and vocational training. There are 2,500 technical schools affiliated with the Ministry of Education and Technical Education in Egypt covering various specializations, with technical education replacing the Thanaweya Amma high school diploma. Pupils enroll in technical education after the ninth year.
The schools include training in the areas of commerce, agriculture, industry and hospitality. The fund is modernizing three of these schools in the wake of the Schools of Applied Technology (ATS) already set up by the Ministry of Education in cooperation with the private sector. These schools focus on training qualified technicians in various specializations.
One of the schools supervised by the fund is the ElectroMisr school, which is developed with Schneider Electric Egypt and the European Institute for Cooperation and Development (IECD).
Two other agriculture-focused vocational training schools are being developed by the fund in Minya, one in partnership with Nahr Al-Khair for Agricultural Development and Investment and Environmental Services, an Egyptian company. The other is being redesigned in partnership with the Al-Anani Development Foundation, the development arm of the Daqahliya agricultural group.
ATS schools are designed to fill the skills gap in Egypt, El-Nashar said, explaining that they are looking to find out what the private sector needs in terms of graduates and then design the program accordingly.
The investors provide the equipment in the schools and give the students the opportunity to train on the premises of the factory, while the fund usually finances the academic partner, explained El-Nashar. The education ministry provides the premises and covers the running costs, she added.
The academic partner leads the schools alongside officials from the Ministry of Education. The school team is interviewed by the academic partner to ensure they will be able to work in the new system. If they are found to be unfit, its members are retrained or transferred to another school operating under the old system. More teachers are hired if necessary.
The academic partner also provides the international accreditation for the certificates obtained by the students, thus enabling them to work all over the world. It also helps prevent illegal migration, because instead of traveling illegally, graduates can apply for decent jobs with their certificates, El-Nashar said.
The fund also aims to empower girls through its work with technical schools, she said. Girls are accepted in all specializations, she noted, noting that they are already enrolled in ATS schools for construction services and automotive, areas often seen as reserved for men.
Cultural skills are addressed in schools, El-Nashar said, through their students who teach not only technical skills, but discipline and precision as well.
The model has proven effective in schools previously set up by the Ministry of Education with other private sector partners, including those specializing in jewelry, telecommunications, retail, automotive, construction. and household appliances. Students are clamoring to enter these successful schools, El-Nashar noted, because they can land jobs in factories owned by private investors or be recruited quickly by other factories looking for labor. skilled labor.
Students also have the option to enroll in the newly established vocational technology universities in Egypt, she added. The government plans to create eight, three of which are already operational and five in the making. Another option is for students to apply for funding from the Egyptian Micro, Small and Medium Enterprise Development Agency (MSMEDA) to set up their own projects.
El-Nashar said the fund plans to expand its activities through more fundraising in the future. Among its priorities will be the development of digital educational platforms, which can represent huge investments in technology and content. The fund also plans to pay more attention to nursing training, given that the Covid-19 pandemic has proven that Egypt suffers from a nursing shortage, she said.
* A print version of this article appears in the December 16, 2021 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly.