Education in its larger definition is one of the most important ingredient in the sustainable and healthy growth of any community. Science, technology, mathematics and engineering (STEM) education on the other hand is the key ingredient in the economic and technological growth for nations seeking excellence and leadership as stated by the US president’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology in 2012. Recently, the concept of knowledge-based society has become a leading locomotive to many nations. This has required the integration of different technologies to benefit education, focusing on integrating STEM domains in school life to introduce new generation of leaders equipped with innovation capacity. Incapacity of adapting this concept in the education in Egypt has led to limitations of knowledge and intelligence of school graduates and lack of competitiveness. According to the “The Global Competitiveness Report 2013-2014 - World Economic Forum”, countries have been classified into 5 categories according to their state of development. Egypt was in the third category (Efficiency-driven) among 31 other countries, mostly from Africa compared to (Innovation-driven) first category, where economies are based on innovation, creativity and competitiveness and where most of EU countries reside. As reported, Egypt’s main sources of deficiency lie in, “Innovation” (120/148) and in “Quality of the Educational System”, where Egypt has ranked 145/148 countries. That initiated root cause analysis to plan for an emergency recovery action. Analysis revealed that over 75-80% of school students are enrolled in non-science-based school tracks, which is alarming due to direct correlation between the economic growth and the number and quality of science- and technology-based education students as indicated in EU Skills Panorama Analytical Highlight (2012) and in President Obama’s State of the Union speech in 2011. “Any future development in Egypt shall be based on the quality and quantity of school graduates who are enrolled in science, technology, engineering and math based jobs”, stated the Minister of Education in Egypt during the inauguration of the first STEM school in Cairo in 2011. The Ministry of Education has a solid plan to introduce a new STEM school in each of Egypt’s 22 governorates during the next 5 years. These shall be equipped with appropriate tools, implement tailored curricula and recruit hundreds of qualified STEM teachers. The plan is ambitious, supported by the EG government, strategies and policies are being reformed to support, however the teacher resource is still lacking. To this day, there is not a single integrated program to qualify school teachers to be able to adapt STEM education philosophy or approach, nor are they trained or equipped with knowledge-specific tools and from psychological perspective, they are not tailored to manage talented students pursuing STEM education tracks. Such shortage is threatening the whole STEM initiative in Egypt and seriously affecting any growth plans for Egypt’s development strategies.
There exist 14 faculties of education in Egyptian universities, who graduate thousands of teachers every year. Teacher education curricula are based on traditional learning system adopted in Egypt since the early 50’s. In-spite of the enormous pre-university education system in Egypt, the quality of school graduates is seriously questionable in general and in science and math in particular due to many reasons, on top of which is the teacher quality and teaching methodology. (World Bank 2007: Improving quality, equality and efficiency of the education sector). With the ambitious plans for Egypt to invest in STEM education, teacher quality and adequacy in STEM education system is far behind. No sustainable development plans have emerged for teacher development yet. It is therefore the wider objective of the current project to develop a new generation of qualified STEM teachers who are capable to provide adequate and innovative teaching in Science, Technology, Math and Engineering-based subjects and who are able to stimulate Problem-solving, Innovation, Invention, Self-reliance, Logical thinking and Technological literacy in students qualified for and are willing to pursue STEM-based higher education and jobs. Fitting within development strategies in EG: Education has gained its long-awaited interest in Egypt manifested in the allocation of 4% of national income towards the education sector in EG as per the Egyptian Constitution in 2014. The emphasis of spreading STEM education in Egypt is evident in the ambitious plans for establishing STEM schools. National largest NGOs who are focusing on education development such as MEK, El-Alfy foundation have aligned their interest towards STEM education in the last two years. It is therefore the first in Egypt’s National Priority List is (Teacher Training and education).
The current project is offering development of three pillars of pre-university education in EG: teacher qualification, teaching methodology and teaching resources with new and innovative features as:
- The academic degree (diploma in STEM education), which doesn’t exist either in EG or in EU.
- EU-accreditation of the diploma to ensure quality of implementation and sustainability.
- Dual education system, as part of the offered diploma is given at qualified academic institution and part is given at operating schools. This will allow for apprentice teachers to practice the knowledge gained in the academic part of the diploma in the work-place they are supposed to be employed in.
- Multi-cultural teacher training programs building on expertise from 3 different EU countries blended with EG long education history and cultural and social characteristics of the EG community.
- Integrating pedagogical-psychological and knowledge-specific topics in one education stream for teachers.
- New teaching methodologies and teaching tools that are adequate to maximize education efficiency for high-density classrooms with number of students in some areas in Egypt reaching 80 students per class.
- Tailored to EG existing pre-university teaching curricula to allow for smooth transition from regular to STEM education.
- Developed teaching materials shall be offered in English and in Arabic to bridge the language barrier for EG students.
- Intensive implementation of IT, e-Labs and e-Learning approaches with full integration with global resources as this is currently the communication language for new generations. In other words, the teaching methodologies and tools that the new teachers are going to be educated and trained on, are offering the hardcore knowledge in sweet nut shells for school students.
- Teaching resources are designed using local environment natural resources in EG reducing the school tools and kits costs, particularly in nomadic and low-income areas in EG.
Aims and Objectives
The project aims at developing a new generation of qualified STEM teachers who are capable to provide adequate and innovative teaching in Science, Technology, Math and Engineering-based subjects and who are able to stimulate Problem-solving, Innovation, Invention, Self-reliance, Logical thinking and Technological literacy in students qualified for and are willing to pursue STEM-based higher education and jobs. The developed teachers shall be able to work in STEM schools in Egypt and Arab countries as well as working with STEM methodology and resources in regular public and private schools. This is realized through the following objectives and milestones:
- Develop comprehensive gap analysis of the STEM education requirements in Egypt focusing on teacher qualification requirements for STEM track.
- Design and develop STEM teacher one-year diploma offered at EG participating universities.
- Design and develop (pedagogical-psychological, knowledge-specific) courses for STEM teacher diploma with dual education design concept and according to ECTS system.
- Develop the diploma according to ECTS system to be upgraded later to a Master’s degree.
- Accredit the developed diploma both in EG and in EU through an EU recognized STEM education development center.
- Develop STEM teacher resources for STEM schools or schools applying STEM concept.
- Establish STEM resource center for sustainable development of STEM school resources.
- Establish exchange links between EG and EU and train EG trainers in EU partner institutions.
- Implement the STEM teacher diploma during the project lifetime as an accredited degree.
The objectives resemble 4 milestones that will serve the wider objective and that (if properly implemented) will improve the situation:
- Gap analysis for STEM education and teacher requirements in Egypt.
- Develop the diploma content (courses, resources, technical and administrative structure and accreditation).
- Train EG trainers (diploma instructors).
- Implement the diploma.
If properly implemented, qualified math and science teachers in EG regular schools shall find a means and support to improve their capabilities, methodologies and shall have the required resources to either work in STEM schools or apply the STEM teaching technologies in regular schools. This way three pillars of pre-school education in STEM tracks shall be erected (teacher, teaching methodology, teaching resources). This shall integrate with the ambitious plans of MOE/MCIT and shall provide the needed resources to expand and/or apply STEM concept and schools. This shall allow for sustainable supply of qualified STEM teachers to work and improve in the STEM schools or regular schools with STEM concept, allowing for further interest in STEM-based tracks, which eventually shall affect the number and quality of graduates working in STEM-based jobs, which ultimately contributes in the economic and technological growth in EG and improve innovation and finally competitiveness.
Ain Shams Univerity [ASU]
Nile University [NU]
Egyptian E-Learning University [EELU]
Alexandria University [AU]
Ministry of Education
Misr El-Kheir Foundation
Ministry of Communication and Information Technology – MCIT
Glasgow Caledonian University - GCU
University of Latvia - LU
Royal Institute of Technology – KTH