It is in light of widespread concerns that the education system in Egypt is failing to deliver in an increasingly globalized and competitive region that the Egyptian government has embarked, since 2014, on a major educational transformation process within its 2030 agenda of sustainable development. The process aims at reshaping the entire educational system at both school and university levels, introducing a modern approach to educational resources and utilizing cutting edge IT technologies in preparing and delivering educational material, expanding the use of digital learning resources as well as enhancing the capacity of teachers, education leaders and supervisors.
ReHeEd is an international educational and scientific project funded by the Erasmus+ program of the European Union and carried out by seven partner Universities from Egypt, France, Italy and Greece. The project aims at reframing heritage education in Egypt, which fits extremely well within the governmental strategic plans and national priorities. Moreover, the project fits well with the great emphasis the country puts now on the preservation of cultural heritage after the negative effects of the revolution period on the cultural heritage of Egypt
Cultural Heritage is a shared asset that tells the history of people and a fundamental aspect of the assertion of cultural identities. The preservation and transmission of this heritage represent a corner-stone in any sustainable development policy, and can only be achieved when the local people to whom the heritage belongs become aware of its values, take pride in it and establish a sense of belonging to it. It is in view of this, that heritage education grows to be more and more prominent in both educational and heritage contexts worldwide. Because the two aspects of heritage, preservation on the one side and heritage education on the other, seem to be mutually beneficial, international organizations such as UNESCO promote not only the protection of cultural heritage but also its use to enrich learning processes of people in general and youths in particular.
Hence, it is of great importance to support schools and universities to integrate heritage education effectively in their curriculum and to enhance the capacity of teachers and professors responsible for its teaching. Further than any fundamental goals regarding the preservation and communication of heritage, or the knowledge to be gained from studying individual examples, effective heritage education can help in building up people’s identity; empower them academically, socially, and politically; help them to express themselves culturally and to acquire a sense of initiative and entrepreneurship, contribute to their understanding and appreciation of the past; and promote critical thinking about the world around them. Heritage as such is not only a goal but rather a tool for personal development that can help improving the attainment of lifelong learning competences of people in general and youth at schools and universities in particular.
The conducted needs analysis has shown that while abundant heritage education in Egypt tend to reveal the richness and diversity of Egyptian civilization, the purview, scope and purpose of current practices fall grievously short of contributing to a deeper understanding of the social messages of Egyptian heritage in as much as it relates to current global, national and local issues. In addition, these studies, transmitted through an antiquated educational system, fail to engage with the role of heritage as a driver of economic development and a source of national pride that supports national identity.
As a result of the absence of an education that links heritage, both tangible and intangible, to university and school curricula and the lack of commitment to raising public awareness and engagement in community heritage projects, Egypt's rich cultural heritage is not only neglected as a sense of national identity and pride but is also endangered by ignorance and radical misinterpretation as evident from the increasing threats to cultural heritage, which were recently induced by the acts of extremism performed by radical Islamists and fanatic groups. A more active contribution through innovative public outreach heritage education programs can therefore function as a long term anti-extremism approach that would reflect on the protection and preservation of cultural heritage.
Reframing heritage education in the educational system in Egypt is now more urgent than ever. It is not just a matter of academic concern. In fact the recession of revenues from tourism in the aftermath of the Arab Spring in 2011 makes it imperative to capitalize on “heritage” and cultural tourism, a growing genre of tourism for which Egypt is well qualified. Heritage tourism also provides the means for promoting creative industries. This opportunity is well recognized in the Universal Declaration of Cultural Diversity that extols creativity as a means for producing cultural goods as vectors of values and social meanings to be handed from one generation to the next and to serve as elements in the dialogue among cultures. The Declaration also recognizes the role of heritage and culture in fostering solidarity and cooperation through international partnerships toward a world of peace and prosperity.
- Helwan University (HU)
- Alexandria University (AU)
- Ain shams University (ASU)
- Damanhour University (DMHR)
- Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities (MoA)