Opinion

Why Nations Fail

Schooling in Egypt vs. Schooling in Uzbekistan

By Daron Acemoglu and James A. Robinson
March 15, 2012

An Egyptian friend reacted to our blog on schooling in Uzbekistan (see here) saying that schools under Mubarak weren’t all that different.

When he was 10, five hours a day for months were spent not in the classroom, but preparing a dance show for Suzanne Mubarak’s annual visit. This was not an isolated event. There would be such a visit almost every year, and a large chunk of the school year would be spent on this. Not as bad as picking cotton, though probably contributing not that much more to useful knowledge. (For more on Suzanne, see here.)

Not that things were that much better when they were in the classroom. Key assignments included writing letters to President Mubarak thanking him for all his tireless work for Egypt; designing a logo for Mubarak’s campaign in elections (no matter that the elections were already fixed); drawing scenes of loyal Egyptians gathering in the streets out of their love for Mubarak. You get the picture.

You might think things may have changed after Mubarak’s fall. And yes they have. Now key assignments include writing letters to the Supreme Council of Armed Forces, thanking them for their tireless work for Egypt. Bonus points are given to those students who emphasize that this tireless work includes defending Egypt against foreign-financed revolutionaries and their puppet masters masquerading as NGOs.

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