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Contentions

Democracy and the Egyptian Education System

According to a newly released study, Egyptian youth are less prepared for democracy than their Tunisian peers, the Jerusalem Post reported today.

The report, by the Institute for Monitoring Peace and Cultural Tolerance in School Education (IMPACT-SE), found that the curriculum taught in Egyptian classrooms “lower[s] the chances for the emergence of a liberal democratic government”:

“A comparative report shows that the Egyptian people have not been taught the importance of democracy and accepting others,” the report explains. “While school textbooks in Egypt urge tolerance towards Copts and call for religious moderation and peace, they deny the existence of the State of Israel and contain anti-Jewish material. … The Egyptian curriculum emphasizes self-sacrifice for the sake of the homeland and war narratives, rather than peace.”

The anti-Semitism and anti-Americanism taught in Egyptian schools could certainly have an impact on the country’s democratic development — but the U.S. isn’t blameless in this situation. This is exactly the type of cultural reform that the U.S. could have pushed for years ago.

And despite the problems that the intolerance in the education system may cause down the line, there’s not much that can be done to change the culture at the moment. Does this mean that Egyptians don’t deserve a shot at democracy as much as Tunisians do? Of course not. But it’s just one more example of how unprepared the U.S. government was for regime change in Egypt.


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