College & Workforce Readiness

Egyptian Pupils Map Out Ways to Improve Lot

By Laura Greifner — July 25, 2006 2 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

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 K-12 Essentials Forum Get a Strong Start to the New School Year
Get insights and actions from Education Week journalists and expert guests on how to start the new school year on strong footing.
Reading & Literacy Webinar A Roadmap to Multisensory Early Literacy Instruction: Accelerate Growth for All Students 
How can you develop key literacy skills with a diverse range of learners? Explore best practices and tips to meet the needs of all students. 
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.
College & Workforce Readiness Webinar
Supporting 21st Century Skills with a Whole-Child Focus
What skills do students need to succeed in the 21st century? Explore the latest strategies to best prepare students for college, career, and life.
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 'I Didn't Really Learn Anything': Graduates Face College After Pandemic Disruptions
Recent graduates are heading to college after spending much of their high school careers dealing with pandemic upheaval.
5 min read
Angel Hope works on a math problem, part of an intense six-week summer bridge program for students of color and first-generation students at the University of Wisconsin, in Madison, Wis., July 27, 2022. Hundreds of thousands of recent graduates are heading to college this fall after spending more than half their high school careers dealing with the upheaval of a pandemic. Hope says he didn't feel ready for college after online classes in high school caused him to fall behind but says the bridge classes made him feel more confident.
Angel Hope works on a math problem as part of an intense six-week summer bridge program for students of color and first-generation students at the University of Wisconsin, in Madison, Wis., July 27.
Carrie Antlfinger/AP
College & Workforce Readiness Opinion How to Make College More Affordable? Try the Charter School Model
A new organization is exploring how to make space for new colleges to emerge that also challenge the status quo.
6 min read
Image shows a multi-tailed arrow hitting the bullseye of a target.
DigitalVision Vectors/Getty
College & Workforce Readiness In Their Own Words Stories of Tenacity: 3 First-Generation College-Bound Students Keep Their Dreams on Track
The pandemic upended college plans for more than a million young people, but not these seniors.
6 min read
Araceli Alarcon and Nathanael Severn, seniors at San Luis Obispo High School, pictured in downtown San Luis Obispo, Calif., on June 7, 2022.
Araceli Alarcon and Nathanael Severn, seniors at San Luis Obispo High School, in San Luis Obispo, Calif., will be the first in their families to attend college. While the pandemic complicated their plans, both teenagers persisted in their path to start college this fall.
Morgan Lieberman for Education Week
College & Workforce Readiness What the Research Says 5 Ways to Make Online Credit Recovery Work Better for Struggling Students
Seven out of 10 districts use online programs for credit recovery.
5 min read
Image of person's hands using a laptop and writing in a notebook