Educational choice and achievement: The case of secondary schools in the Arab Republic of Egypt

Research paper by Gholamreza Arabsheibani

Indexed on: 01 Nov '88Published on: 01 Nov '88Published in: Higher Education


Before 1952 university education in Egypt was generally for the wealthier classes because the universities charged fees and only the richer families could pay those fees. For less wealthy families payment was more difficult, not only because of the direct cost of higher education, but also because of the high opportunity cost of sending children to study. After the 1952 revolution the Egyptian government introduced free education at all levels and encouraged those who wanted to further their education to enter universities. Thus elitism was eradicated from Egyptian higher education. This paper uses data from a sample of Egyptian university students and analyses the determinants of secondary school choice and the factors likely to affect secondary school certificate marks. In particular we are interested in the effect of family background, represented here by father's occupation.The results suggest that individuals with fathers in higher occupational categories tend to go to private schools rather than public schools. They also tend to choose general schools rather than technical or Koranic schools. In turn, high social background as well as attendance at a private school, have a positive and significant effect on examination marks. These findings are alarming because Egypt has a rate of increase in population of over 2% and the supply of university places will therefore have to be rationed. The most likely screening factor would be examination results and as a consequence Egyptian universities may in the future become elitist once more.