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Public Mass Modern Education, Religion, and Human Capital in Twentieth-Century Egypt

Mohamed Saleh ()

The Journal of Economic History, 2016, vol. 76, issue 3, 697-735

Abstract: Public mass modern education was a major pillar of state-led development in the post-Colonial period. I examine the impact of Egypt's transformation in 1951–1953 of traditional elementary schools (kuttabs) into modern primary schools on the Christian-Muslim educational and occupational differentials, which were in favor of Christians. The reform granted kuttabs' graduates (where Muslim students were over-represented) access to higher stages of education that were previously confined to primary schools' graduates. Exploiting the variation in exposure to the reform across cohorts and districts of birth among males in 1986, I find that the reform benefited Muslims but not Christians. What Europe is suffering from is the result of generalizing education among all levels of society… they have no chance of avoiding what happened [Europe's 1848 revolutions]. So if this is an example in front of us, our duty is simply to teach them how to read and write to a certain limit in order to encourage satisfactory work and not to spread education beyond that point. Muhammad Ali Pasha, Ottoman Viceroy of Egypt (1805–1848), in a private letter to his son, Ibrahim Pasha (in Judith Cochran 1986, p. 6) Education is like the water we drink and the air we breathe. Taha Hussein, Egyptian liberal intellectual and Egypt's Minister of Education (1950–1952) The poor go to heaven, but can't they have a share on Earth too? They are willing to give up a share in heaven in exchange for a share on Earth. Gamal Abdul-Nasser, President of Egypt (1956–1970) (Excerpt from a public speech)

Date: 2016
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