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How Egypt plans to build its next generation of scientists

While Egypt is investing in high schools specializing in STEM fields to promote innovation among future generations, the efforts will only pay off if higher educational institutions improve as well.
A worker checks Egypt's first tablet computer "Inar" in Benha May 18, 2013. Egypt has produced its very first tablet computer "Inar", part of a national project to distribute the device to students in schools and universities around the country. The Ministry of Military Production in collaboration with the Ministry of Communications presented the scheme last year to Benha Electronics Company known as 'Katron' to manufacture the tablet. Picture taken May 18, 2013.    REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany (EGYPT - Tag
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CAIRO — The educational system in Egypt is in a miserable state. In the World Economic Forum’s 2015-2016 Global Competitiveness Report, the country ranked 139th out of 140 countries in the “quality of the education system” index. The educational system has been criticized due to the rigidity of the curriculum, dependence on rote memorization instead of scientific research, classroom overcrowding, a lack of laboratories and a lack of competent faculty and staff. There is, however, some hope on the horizon for a better future for Egypt and Egyptians, namely STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) schools.

These schools take in the country’s highest scoring students on the middle-school final exams after they also pass several admission tests. The curriculum is based on scientific research and requires students to complete one scientific project per semester. While Ministry of Education officials hope that these students would be Egypt’s future scientists, this project is colliding with the fact that no Egyptian university is at a high enough level for these students to attend after they graduate from the STEM schools.

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