II-Women’s Education in Egypt
II-2: Educational status of women
III- Technical Education in Egypt
III-2: Types of vocational training
III-3: Girls in technical education
III-4: Challenges facing technical education in Egypt
III-4-a- From the technical point of view
III-4-b - From the social point of view
III-4-c- Challenges facing women in technical education
IV Market Potential Capacity to absorb (Chances for women in the labor market):
IV-1: General trends in the labor market.
IV-2: Women in the labor market.
IV-3: Working environment for young graduates in the private and public sector.
IV-4: Market potential capacity for females.
V-Concluding Remarks and Suggested Policies:
V-1-: Concluding remarks.
V-2: Suggested policies.
The Egyptian government has achieved tremendous efforts to universalize education for all since the first Constitution in 1923. A second major step forward was taken with the 1952 Revolution, which focused on developing unified, compulsory primary education. Higher education in Egypt must achieve “multiple objectives related to building up human capabilities, increasing opportunities for access to the labor market as well as contributing to socioeconomic and political life (UNDP, INP.1999)”. Non-university education includes public and private technical institutes under the direct supervision of the Ministry of Higher Education (MoHE), in addition to specialized higher education facilities in some academies, faculties, and institutes affiliated to other ministries.
The consequences of the previously mentioned policies was an impressive expansion of the educational system. However drop out ratios are still high due to several bottlenecks at the policy and institutional level.
· Moreover one of the crucial problems facing the Egyptian economy during globalization is the status of the technical and vocational training in Egypt. This kind of education is facing several problems such as “shortages in qualified teachers and instructors; outdated programs, outdated curricula, training material and teaching methods; and lack of flexibility and failure to adjust in the face of increasing modernity, new technological developments, emerging new occupations and changing existing occupational and job profiles, lack of an accreditation and certification system and high drop outs”(Radwan,S.1997)
In general the objectives of technical education and vocational training were to set the qualifications needs and manpower distribution of graduates and school-leavers in line with their training and employment. Besides technical education in secondary schools, which is affiliated to the Ministry of Education and post‑secondary technical education in Technical Institutes (Ministry of Higher Education) there are more than 3468 vocational training centers (VTCs) with different standards, curricula and systems supervised by several Ministries.
· Concerning the educational status of women, despite the fact that Egypt started public education for girls from the mid nineteenth century, female illiteracy in Egypt is one of the highest in the Middle East in comparison to other countries, especially the Gulf countries, which just started the education of women in the mid of this century.
Gender specific policies restrict female’s access to certain types of secondary vocational schooling. Nevertheless, inadequate vocational training for women placed them in a subordinate position in the labor market, especially after ERSAP and the attempt to release some workers from the public sector and retrain them. Females in secondary education are concentrated in commercial education and general secondary education at the expense of vocational training. This is a natural consequence of some prevailing norms, as general education is considered the appropriate education for girls. As a result girls are usually confined to sectors, which are more vulnerable to retrenchment of economic crisis.
· Challenges facing technical education can be classified into technical and social. From the technical point of view, secondary education faces several problems such as imbalances between general secondary education, which represented only 30% enrollment, compared to the vocational secondary education (70%). Poor quality, shortages in qualified teachers and instructors and outdated curricula are other examples.
· From the social point of view secondary education in general and technical education in particular has several drawbacks: first, this kind of education does not improve the average graduate's job opportunities. Second, intermediate education does not yet produce marketable skills and does not necessarily improve the earning prospects since wage rates for graduates of this kind of education is low. Third, prevailing tradition and norms in Egypt are a main challenge against increasing the efficiency of training.
· Challenges facing women in technical education are numerous: the preference for leaving work after marriage, occupational segregation, high females’ staff fluctuation due to social commitment, inability to cope with the physical requirements of technical jobs and finally female graduates from technical education suffer from the highest unemployment rates.
· With respect to the status of women in the labor market, women in the Egyptian labor force are accounted by 22% in the last census. Gender differences exist in the occupational structure of females in comparison to males. Women are squeezed in a limited number of occupations in the lower as well as the highest level of the occupational ladder.
Distribution of females by economic activities reflects the previous occupational structure of working females. More than half the females are absorbed in the service sector in its broader definition and second come the agricultural sector as a main absorbing sector. There is now a gender-biased professionalism in Egypt. Some professional occupations are dominated by females such as social services, teaching, nursing and medical services employ women more than other fields. Gender sectoral bias is apparent in the Egyptian society, where most job opportunities for females in the formal sector have concentrated in the government and to some extent in the public sector if compared with the male's labor market. There is a kind of growing feminization of the government sector. Work status of females indicates that unrewarded work as well as paid employment in the government is relatively more visible among working females than men, while self-employment is relatively more apparent among working males. Also the impact of unemployment is relatively stronger on women, as unemployment rates are higher, unemployment periods are longer for females and women are reluctant to search for jobs.
Moreover working environment for young graduates in the private and public sector reveals a strong preference among working females towards the public sector, which offers high job security and involves little risk. Number of Egyptian women working with no contract in the private sector is increasing. There is an absence of social and health insurance connected with long working hour. The abundancy of unskilled labor led to employers’ monopoly. Moreover harassment in work exists in different forms.
· The trends in the labor market identify trade, tourism, finance and insurance sectors as promising areas for employment growth. In 1998 the drop in agriculture, services and clerical jobs, and the parallel increase in technical and scientific occupations resulted in a concentration of young women in the latter occupations. Though the government sector offset much of the decrease in young female wage work in the public sector, the private sector continues to be the leading employer of young female wageworkers. The sectoral distribution of females in Egypt reflects mainly the employment guarantee policies pursued since the sixties (feminization of government, feminization of several governmental industries (textiles, chemistry…). It also reflects the shrinking of the public sector and the inability of the private sector to absorb the increase in the labor force, as new entrants in the labor market are mainly concentrated in the informal sector. While the rate of growth of females’ employment in private enterprises indicates a sharp decline (more than the rate of decrease in males' employment in the same sector) over the period 1990-1998, it indicates on the other hand a significant increase in female’s absorption outside enterprises mainly in the informal sector. It has been indicated that only "finance, insurance and real estate open activities for a small fraction of females employment in private enterprises, while all other activities are almost closed in private enterprises. Women constitute a very small percentage of the private labor force in the mining, utilities, construction and transportation as well as construction sectors in 1998 (Asaad, R.1999). Finally non-farm activities for females in the agricultural areas have to be expanded. The main occupations needed for females over the period 2002-2005 are concentrated in basic education teachers, sewing machines workers, as well as technicians, sales and nursery, clothes making, textiles, carpets, lawyers, service supervisors, hairdressers, tourist guides, hostesses, engineers electronic engineers, construction, computer programmer, land planning engineering. There are certain occupations, which are almost closed for women such as autobus drivers, train drives, lorry drivers, workers for machines operations, power plant operations, petrol refining workers, metal refining workers, furniture makers, wood making, electrical repairing, painting, bicycles repairing, painters, machine makers and metal processing.
· Several policy considerations are drawn at the national level, at the firms’ level and at the community level in the last part of the study such as: developing gender sensitive educational and employment policies and programs, ensuring effective educational and training program. Ensuring effective educational and training programs emphasize a strategy, which can produce effective changes in the quality of the offered services. This strategy was recommended to include the following elements: expanding the scope of the training programmes, deepening the scope of the training programs; financing training programs, co-ordinating training strategy and implementation. It would also be useful to adopt a participatory approach in identifying the needs and developing the training packages to determine what can be done to encourage greater cooperation between training institutions and employers. Expansion of productive employment opportunities includes the expansion of non-farm job opportunities in rural areas as well as measures to facilitate the access of poor women to productive employment. Training programs are also effective in increasing the abilities of women to obtain productive employment opportunities and to alleviate job segregation in the private sector. Moreover it was stated that education and employment matters of females were always concentrated among three stakeholders: the government, business sector and donors. Two other stakeholders have to play an effective role: the NGOs and research institutions to develop career models on those women who work at different levels as engineers, technical managers, technical supervisors in different industries is an important means for raising awareness on the role of women in societies and to create awareness among traditional communities on the demand work poses on female workers in the modern sector. This is important to raise community awareness on the importance of eliminating conflicting roles through the study of work conditions and needs for women in middle management, who are engaged in quality control and supervision of production and personnel, to introduce career guidance manuals for graduates of preparatory and secondary schools and their parents by informing about professional prospects and conditions of training and employment as well as to assist companies with staff development programs that take into account individual upgrading.
Education of females became a main topic in economic and social development in recent years. It is strongly believed, that education of females yields substantial benefits for girls and women, their families and the societies in general. Meanwhile it is an important means for better employment opportunities, it leads to the transfer of females from low paying, low productivity activities to activities of higher economic value.
However, in developing countries in general and in Egypt in particular. The relationship between education and employment for women is indirect. The reason behind this is that other socio economic factors -in addition to education- affect the employment status of women, which have to be taken into account, while implementing a policy for educational and employment promotion of women.
The purpose of this paper is to discuss the status of females in technical education in Egypt, highlighting the conditions of females’ education in general, employment status and prospects in the labor market as well as obstacles, market potentials for girls of technical education, suggesting an enabling environment, gender sensitive policies for linking education to market. Due to limited data and time frame the report depended on existing available documentation as well as data.
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