The educational sector in Egypt is in deep crisis since some decades, according to both local and international sources, and this is usually related to an even deeper crisis of citizenship. There are different versions of what the crisis is about; official studies tend to highlight the increased quantitative burden on educational institutions, with consequent decline in the quality of education, or the inadequacy of the curricula and of teaching methodologies, not to mention that of educational infrastructures. Others, more critical observers point to the break of the social contract between the state and the populace as the fundamental reason for the educational crisis, in particular the mismatch between educational promises and the realities of the labour market. Regardless of the actual point of observation, most people involved in the educational sector would agree that the system is experiencing a crisis, and this discourse links questions of governance of the system, institutions, reforms, international cooperation and of subjective choices to cope with the situation. The discourse of crisis attributes value (even if a lost one) to education, and contributes to the formation of historical narratives that use education to exemplify differences among decades. Moreover, it is used to justify a disengagement from the actual learning and research process; it calls for policy reforms, for example for the need of introducing private for-profit universities, and for international cooperation,  also within public institutions; and it is a guiding force for actors, who unconsciously help co-creating the crisis.

In this project, I attempt at discussing the ways in which the discourse of the crisis of education in Egypt is posited by different authors, from different theoretical, political and moral viewpoints. The goal of this research is to discuss how significance is made through a resort to the crisis narrative – how different modes of organization and reforms are introduced, and how social actors adapt their evaluations to the changing context. The project investigates the ways in which the state, though the education sector, functions and evolves, between social and economic considerations, both local and internationally-oriented. Here the attention lies in the structuring and governance of education and research, in the reforms discussed and (rarely) implemented, a crucial aspect of the crisis itself, as well as in the international cooperation efforts, particularly (though not exclusively) with Europe.