Enhancing education cannot be measured by numbers

Nelson Mandela has once said ‘Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.’ The importance of education is unquestionable. Achieving universal primary education has actually been one of the Millennium Development Goals set by the United Nations, to be achieved by 2015. Both individuals and countries benefit substantially from increased education levels and improvements in the quality of education. Education is a necessary factor for economic development and growth. It is also the gateway of every individual to the labor market, affecting both the present and future workforce of any nation.

Given the importance of education, it has been crucial to get look at the quality of education in Egypt. This was the topic of the study conducted by Dr. Asmaa El Badawi (Research Associate ERF) using the new Egypt Labor Market Panel Survey for 2012, which she presented during ERF’s conference ‘The Egyptian Labor Market In A Revolutionary Era: Results From The 2012 Survey‘.

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U-turn here and there

Did Egyptian workers become poorer or richer? Did the revolution affect how much Egyptians earn? Did inequality in earnings fall following the revolution? These are all questions that Dr. Mona Said tried to answer in her study titled “The Differential Dividends of Revolt? Wage and Inequality Adjustments in the Egyptian Labor Market in the Era of Financial Crisis and Revolution”. Through her study, Said wanted to examine what happens to real wages and whether inequality in wages has changed or not. She also wanted to see how the proportion of low waged individuals has evolved, and whether there is segregation in the labor market in Egypt.

Is the Egyptian labor force better or worse off? Rise and Fall
Using the four nation-wide labor force sample surveys (the 1988 LFSS, the 1998 ELMS, 2006 ELMPS and 2012 ELMPS), Said’s study found that wages took a U-turn in 2006; increasing following a period of wage erosion between 1988 and 1998. Real wages started rising again in Egypt by 2006, and rose even more in 2012, going back to the 1988 levels. Even though this is all good news to Egyptian labor, this is not the whole picture as the share of low waged workers has increased in 2012. The study shows that we witness an inverted U-shape in the share of workers who fall below the poverty line. Workers below the poverty line were 34% of the labor force in 1988, but this share increased in 1998, and increased again in 2012, following a fall in 2006. In addition, wage inequality rose in 2006, when compared to 1998, and remained stable since then.

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