MONUFIA, Egypt – An Egyptian school, built by the Chinese government as a gift, has been a popular attraction for local Egyptian parents when they make school choice for their children.
The Free Egypt Experimental School, also known as the Chinese School, is located in Monufia province, 65km northwest of the Egyptian capital Cairo.
Established in 2009 and became fully operational in 2013, the Chinese School is one of the two schools built by the Chinese government under an educational aid programme for Egypt.
The other one was located in the October 6 City on the outskirts of Cairo. “It is one of the best schools in Egypt without exaggeration. It’s fully equipped with interactive smart board, laptops, iPad, electronic books,” manager of the school Zahran Mohamed told Xinhua.
The school gate is open to a vast sport yards surrounded by semi-circle buildings. Built on a space of 9,000 square metres, the school boasts a theatre, a library and multimedia labs.
Mohamed praised the Chinese builders for building the school with a design that allows sunshine and fresh air into all the classrooms equally.
The school, which compromises 34 classes with a population of 1,300 students, has been very attractive among local Egyptian parents, who are in a race to enrol their kids in the school that includes all classes from Kindergarten to high school, Mohamed said.
Despite its name and the builder, the school does not offer a Chinese language course, prompting the parents and school staff to call for help from China to teach Chinese as a second language at the school.
“How come a school that is well-known as a Chinese school teaches German and French languages while ignoring the language of the founders?” Mohamed asked.
While most of the governmental schools are highly crowded with students with nearly no spaces for activities, 60 per cent of the Chinese School is turned into green land and sport courts, said history teacher at the school Shadia Abdel Maqsoud. The Chinese side was responsible for the maintenance of the school for one year until 2014, Maqsoud highlighted.
“We need the Chinese side to come back and take responsibility of the maintenance to keep the buildings and equipments in best condition,” she said. The school is a treasure that should be preserved for the coming generations, the teacher added, asking the Chinese partners provide the school with materials and devices for teaching the Chinese Language.
“The Chinese side gifted us with a perfect building, but their supervision on educational materials is also needed in coordination with the Egyptian Ministry of Education,” Maqsoud said. “The students are very eager to learn about China,” she said, adding that the school needs maps, books, and some educational materials about Chinese history.
The Chinese language will open more doors for communication, cultural exchange, and better understanding with the Chinese, Maqsoud added.
Ahlam Adel, a mother of two boys as students at the school, said her sons are very happy in the school. “We are envied by our friends to enjoy all those facilities with only 1,300 Egyptian pounds (nearly USD73) per year (for tuition fee),” she told Xinhua.
Adel added that her sons read many books about the history of China and really wish to learn the Chinese language.