Access to Education for the Most Deprived

European Union (EU) funding helped UNICEF reach the most deprived children in Beni Suef through community schools

Dalia Younis
European Union (EU) funding helped UNICEF reach the most deprived children in Beni Suef  through community schools
UNICEF/Egypt 2019/Dalia Younis
15 December 2019

Although the Egyptian education system is by far the biggest in the Middle East and North Africa, the number of primary school-age children who are out-of-school is still substantial. Girls in particular continue to be disadvantaged in the access to basic education.

The community schools’ model was developed more than 20 years ago by the government of Egypt with the support of UNICEF to increase the access to education of the most vulnerable and hard-to-reach children.

5,048 community schools are currently serving 133,007 socially-excluded children. UNICEF conducted rehabilitation works for some of these schools to improve the physical learning environment by supporting furniture, learning materials and ICT equipment. UNICEF also trained the school education committee on community participation and resource mobilization to support the overall management efficiency. Facilitators were trained on computer literacy skills and are set to receive further training on play-based learning. In this photo essay, we explore the students and graduates of two UNICEF-supported community schools in Beni Suef, Upper Egypt.

European Union (EU) funding helped UNICEF reach the most deprived children in Beni Suef  through community schools
UNICEF/Egypt 2019/Dalia Younis
Lack of transport facilities to reach the public schools and prevalence of social and behavioral influences impede children, mainly the girls, to travel to reach the public schools located in the surroundings. Community schools are, therefore, established at areas where there are no public schools within 2 km.
European Union (EU) funding helped UNICEF reach the most deprived children in Beni Suef  through community schools
UNICEF/Egypt 2019/Dalia Younis
Counters, puzzles and many other creative learning tools were made available by UNICEF at Abo Saleh community school in Beni Suef this year. Community schools are one or two classrooms per village, covering the needs of multiple grades in primary education. Members from the local communities donate the venue for these schools for at least 12 years to ensure sustainability.
European Union (EU) funding helped UNICEF reach the most deprived children in Beni Suef  through community schools
UNICEF/Egypt 2019/Dalia Younis
Ghada, who is now 14, came to visit her old school (Sheikh Ali community school). When she was six, Ghada’s father didn’t feel safe to send his daughter to the nearest school outside their villages because of the security and political turmoil in the country. Because of the nearby Sheikh Ali community school, she got primary education. The majority of students completing the primary education cycle in the community schools are later integrated in the mainstream education system. “Now that I am in high school, dad feels I can take care of myself and go to a far away school,” Ghada said.
European Union (EU) funding helped UNICEF reach the most deprived children in Beni Suef  through community schools
UNICEF/Egypt 2019/Dalia Younis
13-year-old Abdelrahman at Abo Saleh community school in Beni Suef is happy to have finally solved a math riddle using the counter that UNICEF supplied to the school this year. Abdelrahman quit primary school to provide for his family. He was encouraged to go back to this community school by his mother. “There are interesting toys and learning tools here. I am grateful that I don’t have to hurt my back working with the broom anymore” he said.
European Union (EU) funding helped UNICEF reach the most deprived children in Beni Suef  through community schools
UNICEF/Egypt 2019/Dalia Younis
This group of children at Sheikh Ali community school in Beni Suef likes to sing a song about girls at school because they feel that “This school was made specially for them so they won’t drop out of school.”
European Union (EU) funding helped UNICEF reach the most deprived children in Beni Suef  through community schools
UNICEF/Egypt 2019/Dalia Younis
“When we go to the city, she sounds so cute when she keeps reading all the signs on the road. She’s so bright!” Israa is 11 years old. Her proud mother is glad she didn’t miss her chance in education because of the affordability and proximity of Abo Saleh community school in their village.
European Union (EU) funding helped UNICEF reach the most deprived children in Beni Suef  through community schools
UNICEF/Egypt 2019/Dalia Younis
Maha, 12 years old, is enjoying the puzzle that UNICEF supplied her Sheikh Ali community school with. She came to the school 6 years ago with features of autism, learning difficulties and speech delay. Thanks to the inclusive environment, she can now read, write and talk.
European Union (EU) funding helped UNICEF reach the most deprived children in Beni Suef  through community schools
UNICEF/Egypt 2019/Dalia Younis
Sabah, 35 years old on the left, couldn’t afford the commute of sending Donia, 10-year-old oldest daughter on the right, to the nearest public school which is tens of kilometers away. With the help of the UNICEF-supported local NGO at her village, she was able to start a home bakery business and enroll Donia and her siblings at Sheikh Ali community school few meters away from their house.