Egyptian Private Schools Want Fees Paid in Hard Currency

Published October 3rd, 2001 - 02:00 GMT

Egyptian private schools have adopted a practice so far limited to foreign schools licensed in the country: fees should be paid in hard currency, accoding to the Egyptian Gazette on Wednesday. 

The paper quoted opposition papers as saying the decision has further weakened public confidence in the Egyptian pound and undermines its value. Meanwhile, the Ministry of Education has not stepped in to stop the unacceptable move, critics say. 

“Some argue that demanding payments in foreign currency is a gimmick used by private schools to add prestige. In addition to a foreign staff and walls full of foreign awards and certificates, demanding foreign currency payments lends the school a foreign mystique that many Egyptians associate with superior value,” said the paper. 

The issue worsens an already tarnished image of education in the country, due to other practices seen as exploiting the students and their parents. 

Reports have said that the ministry of education has failed in a campaign to curb private tuition which costs Egyptian families billions of pounds each year An accountant at a private school was quoted as saying that the school demanded payment in foreign currency because its staff demanded their paychecks in foreign currency. "Furthermore, all equipment and laboratories are purchased from abroad in foreign currency," she said. 

But the parent of one students said the policy was discriminatory, and school officials look down upon those parents who pay in Egyptian pounds. The schools are able to do this because the Ministry of Education refuses to intervene a single local currency payment system, said the parent, who refused to be named. 

An economics professor at El-Zaqaziq University finds the foreign currency policy instituted by private Egyptian schools appalling. 

"This is an insult to the entire country as these schools operate on our soil and respecting our currency is like respecting our flag," said Professor Ismail Shalaby.  

"The Ministry of Education should immediately issue a decree that (Egyptian) private school fees must be paid in local currency, and schools that violate the decree will be closed." 

The reports cited no reaction from the education authorities – 


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