College & Workforce Readiness

Egyptian Pupils Map Out Ways to Improve Lot

By Laura Greifner — July 25, 2006 2 min read

When Sahar Abdel-Hakim was in her first year of preparatory school in the town of Abu Qurqas in Egypt’s Minya province, her school closed, the building was destroyed, and the students were forced to go elsewhere. She ended up in an overcrowded school, like so many Egyptian students.

So when she got the chance to make recommendations to the leaders of the province as part of the Community Youth Mapping program, she told them to rebuild her old school.

Ms. Abdel-Hakim, now 15, and two dozen of her peers from Egypt were here this month to attend a conference about the program, which is run by the Washington-based Academy for Educational Development, a nonprofit organization focused on education, health, and economic issues. The mapping project is run in more than 115 U.S. locales and has branched abroad to sites in Egypt, Haiti, Jordan, and the Netherlands, with plans for another in South Africa.

Nageya Omar, left, a student from Egypt, presents her research at a Community Youth Mapping conference in Washington, while Raul Ratcliffe, center, a co-director of the initiative, and Anthony George of New York City, a participant in the program, listen. The goal of the program is to link teenagers with employment and other oppotunities.

“There is a growing interest by the international community to engage young people,” said Eric J. Kilbride, a senior program officer for the program. Those countries “needed a strategy, and mapping worked successfully here, so they adopted it in their countries.”

The program sends youths 12 to 18 into their neighborhoods to survey businesses, clinics, recreation centers, and nonprofit organizations—“everything but houses,” one adult program manager says—for any type of program, service, class, or employment opportunity available to teenagers. The “mappers” then compile and organize the data and publish it on so other youths can benefit from their work. At the same time, the students learn communication, teamwork, and organizational skills. Many say they feel empowered by the experience.

Curricula Fall Short

Most of the Egyptian mappers attend technical schools, where students go if they fail an exam upon completing the equivalent of elementary school and two years of preparatory school.

The students found that employment opportunities don’t match up with the skills they’re being taught in school.

When all the data were collected, the technical school students made sure to include in their recommendations to government leaders ways to better align the curriculum with the job market.

Mahmoud Abdel-Samad, 17, said mapping his community showed him the shortcomings of his education. He spent three years studying refrigeration, he said, leaving him only one year to study air conditioning.

“It’s not enough,” Mr. Abdel-Samad said through a translator. His peers, he said, “are shocked to get out of school and find the needs of our community.”

Mr. Kilbride said the goal is to revamp the curricula. “They’re all being trained to fix air conditioning. Or [work in] textiles. It’s antiquated. They’re not employable.”

The AED program also provides the students with some of the skills they’ll need in the workforce, such as computer use and English instruction.

“English is a must to have a decent job in Egypt,” said Marwa Mohsen, a program manager for CYM Egypt.

Since taking part in the project, the young mappers have noticed a change in how they are perceived.

After Mr. Abdel-Samad and his peers presented their findings, the community leaders saw that “we have the potential to benefit the community. We aren’t marginalized. … The governor and the ministry are giving us more attention.”

What’s more, Sahar Abdel-Hakim’s old school was rebuilt, as a result of the recommendations she made, and now her younger sister goes there.

“It’s a new project in the community,” Ms. Abdel-Hakim said in English.

A version of this article appeared in the July 26, 2006 edition of Education Week as Egyptian Pupils Map Out Ways To Improve Lot


School & District Management Live Event EdWeek Leadership Symposium
Education Week's Premier Leadership Event for K12 School & District Leaders.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Law & Courts Webinar
The Future of Criminal Justice Reform: A Sphere Education Initiative Conversation
America’s criminal justice system is in crisis and calls for reform are dominating the national debate. Join Cato’s Sphere Education Initiative and Education Week for a webinar on criminal justice and policing featuring the nation’s
Content provided by Cato Institute
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Student Well-Being Webinar
Equity, Care and Connection: New SEL Tools and Practices to Support Students and Adults
As school districts plan to welcome students back into buildings for the upcoming school year, this is the perfect time to take a hard look at both our practices and our systems to build a
Content provided by Panorama Education

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

College & Workforce Readiness Opinion There’s Insurance for Homes or Cars—Why Not College Degrees?
Rick Hess talks with Wade Eyerly, the CEO of Degree Insurance, about the company's plan to make investing in a college degree less risky.
7 min read
Image shows a multi-tailed arrow hitting the bullseye of a target.
DigitalVision Vectors/Getty
College & Workforce Readiness Fewer Students in Class of 2020 Went Straight to College
First-year college enrollment dropped steeply last year, a study finds, and the declines were sharpest among poorer students.
6 min read
Image shows University Application Acceptance Notification Letter with ACCEPTED Stamp
College & Workforce Readiness Letter to the Editor Are Students Ready for Post-Pandemic Reality?
Schools must make improving students' essential skills a priority for college and career success, says the CEO and president of CAE.
1 min read
College & Workforce Readiness This Is Not a Good Time to Fall Off the College Track. Students Are Doing It Anyway
Fewer students in the Class of 2021 are applying for college financial aid, continuing a drop that started last year.
6 min read
Applications for the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form are on the decline.
Applications for the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form are on the decline.
Jon Elswick/AP