On Education

No one denies the importance of education, and its significance in building the  proper elements leading to the development of societies. And at the same time, it is often associated with obligations and eventually with a pile of conscious or subconscious resentment from the recipient side, especially if the purpose of all of the exerted efforts were not made clear, and its results were not effective. This is something very noticeable in our schools, and I dare say it is also repeated to some degrees in many societies, even those deemed more progressive.

My years of studying in an average Egyptian environment during the years 1989 – 2004 (4 years university, 3 years secondary, 3 years preparatory and 5 years of elementary), were not especially pleasant. I passed by them as an average student, excelling only in selected subjects, and skimming through the rest in order to pass the exam. Part of my annoyance of my schooling was related to the administration itself (on micro and macro levels), the curriculum, the studying atmosphere (including the society and the family impacts), the teachers and the students. So in a nutshell, it was everything.

Despite all this, there was always some sparkles that got my attention, and they kept me going, and the credit mainly goes to some brilliant teachers who were able to surpass all the educational annoyances, and were still able to deliver a substance with passion and dedication that I understood its meaning when I grew up.

For instance, Mr. Momtaz, teacher of philosophy in thanaweya amma, he was a legend in the maadi. He taught my brothers who were 12 years my senior, and in some cases he taught a girl and years later her daughter as well! I only met him in the private tutoring in one of the thanaweya amma centers, so it was basically a profitable for him, yet he was very passionate about teaching us, it was very easy for me to love this subject, and ace it. And even after passing the course, I remember passing by him more than once just to say hi, and I was not the only one to do that. He combined a great sense of humor, patience and accumulated experience to ensure that his students got the final grade in this course.

I also remember fondly Prof. Hamdy Abdel Rahman who specialized in African Affairs in the Faculty of Economics and Political Sciences in Cairo University. He was another example of passion and dedication, his lectures were genuinely interesting and his writings are always engaging. He gave me only one course introducing political sciences in my first year, yet his impact was more than this course and I made sure that if I read his name I had to read what he had to say. Inevitably I compare him to another professor, who also specialized in African Affairs, but attending one of her lectures was more of an ordeal. I asked her once in a friendly conversation why she chose this specialty in particular, she just said that it was a matter of availability when she had to choose an academic specialty! Can you imagine! She spent most of her life studying a subject she didn’t particularly love, and transferred this lack of enthusiasm to hundreds and maybe a couple of thousands of students! Why would a person do that to himself and to others?

In a nutshell, passion and dedication play a vital role in the transfer of knowledge process. This means that if an individual was in a position of teaching, first he should choose a subject he genuinely love, otherwise it will not only be a waste of time and resources, it will be a waste of potential energy and creativity that might have otherwise helped in shaping a better future.