THE foundations of the present system of public instruction in Egypt were laid by the Caliphs, who first at Alexandria and afterwards at Cairoas in Syria, at Baghdad, and in Spainfostered learning and the arts with a munificence unequalled by either their Greek or Roman predecessors, and which stands in still more marked historic contrast with the neglect of both by their Tartar successors of Stamboul. Besides themselves founding many great libraries and colleges for the higher education, they encouraged the endowment of secondary and primary schools by private liberality, till every town and almost every village of the country had its medresseh or kouttabb. In this way originated the system of wakfs (pious foundations) which threw the ægis of religious protection over all property devoted to these and other charitable uses, and secured it against the spoliation from which in after times no mere private estate was safe in either Egypt or Turkey. Thus it was that while Europe was sunk in the intellectual gloom of the Middle Ages, Egypt again became the home of science and philosophy, which flourished there as, after the decline of the Baghdad Caliphate, they flourished nowhere else but in the Moorish colleges of Spain. With the fall of the Fatimites this splendid patronage ceased, and thence on through the turbulent Mamlouk dynasties that followed, and the still more anarchic times which succeeded the Turkish con-quest, Egyptian learning steadily declined till the savants who accompanied Bonaparte’s expedition found even in Cairo hardly a trace of even the letters or art that were rivalling those of Cordova and Seville when Peter preached the first Crusade. The wide learning once taught at the Azhar had dwindled to lectures on the Koran and the traditions of the Prophet, the study of the Arabic language, calligraphy, and elementary arithmetic, and geography ; while most of the colleges attached to the other great mosques had sunk nearly to a level with the primary schools, which in their turn, althoughthanks to their wakfsstill numerous, had ceased to teach anything beyond the recitation of the Koran. The French occupation was too short, and its main work too purely military, to leave room for any attempt at educational reform. The country was exhaustively surveyed, and many administrative improvements begun, but in the matter of public instruction Menou left it in 1801 as Bonaparte had found it three years before. Nearly a quarter of a century later, however, the ambition and military necessities of Mehemet All supplied the impulse to a revival which, although discouraged by Abbas Pasha and only feebly assisted by Said, has attained proportions during the present reign that fairly entitle it to be called the intellectual renaissance of Egypt.
The first difficulty encountered by Mehemet All, is resolving after his successful Wahabite campaigns to complete the organisation of his army on a European basis, was the want of officers, both combatant and administrative ; and to supply this he opened in 1825 a staff school at Cairo, under the direction of an intelligent young Turk, whom he had had specially trained in France with a view to this reform. This was followed by a medical school for the education of army surgeons, by special schools for military engineering, gunnery, veterinary medicine, languages, practical mechanics, and agriculture, the professors in which were mostly Frenchmen or natives educated in France, and the whole of the pupils, as they became fit, were drafted into the State service. The success of these institutions encouraged an extension of the experiment, and during the next two or three years many Government primary schools were opened in Cairo, at Alexandria, and in the chief provincial towns, as nurseries for the higher seminaries. Education in the whole was not merely free, but the pupils were lodged, clothed, fed, and even paid a small monthly wage at the expense of the Government. The result fully answered the expectations of the Pasha. Within little more than five years from the opening of his first school, a numerous staff of sufficiently-trained officers enabled him to complete his scheme of military reform, and in 1832 he began his rebellion against the Porte, with perhaps the best-organised Eastern army that had till then ever taken the field. The victories of Homs, of Beylan, of Koniah, and Nezib, again, on a larger scale than in the Hedjaz, proved the immense advantage of the new over the old system of tactics and drill ; and while the war lasted the schools which had contributed so much to these results continued to receive liberal State support. With the reduction of the army, however, after the peace of 1840-1, these military seminaries lost their raison d’étre, and with it practically ceased the Viceroy’s interest in educational reform. The schools themselves indeed remained open, but the movement languished till, from having numbered more than 20,000 pupils, they reckoned only 11,000 at his death. Under the reactionary Abbas the whole were closed, and for nearly six years public instruction in Egypt was again reduced to the elementary curriculum of the mosque colleges and primary schools. Said Pasha, more liberal, re-opened several of the special seminaries, and munificently assisted the foreign schools in Cairo and Alexandria, which, as we shall see, have rendered good service to Egyptian education, but he lacked the energy to prosecute the reform begun by his father ; and at his death in 1863 the medical school in Old Cairo was the only one of the Government academies in at all prosperous operation. Like his predecessor, too, he had done nothing whatever to improve the condition of the old Arab primary schools, which remained as the Mamlouksit might be said the Saracens-had left them.
In the matter of public instruction, therefore, as in much else, the present Viceroy, on his accession, found before him a wide field for reforming activity, and he soon disclosed a policy of working it, not merely in the interest of the army, but of the whole population. The military academies were reorganised on a basis of much greater efficiency than under Mehemet All, with the result, it may be here mentionedas fuller description of these army schools does not properly fall within the scope of this chapterthat except such as were commissioned during the preceding reigns, there is not now an illiterate officer in the Egyptian army, nor is even a corporal promoted from the ranks without a knowledge of at least the “three Rs.” A brief sketch of the three systems of scholastic machinery now at work in Egypt, over and above these military academies, will convey some idea of what has been done thus far for popular education. These are (1) the schools established and wholly or in part supported by the Government ; (2) the old mosque colleges and Arab primary schools ; and (3) the schools belonging to the non-Mussulman native communities and the various foreign colonies which, although not under State control, are very liberally assisted by the Khedive.
The first of these groups comprises nine specially ” Government Schools,” the pupils of which being fed, clothed, and lodged by the State, are for the most part, at the close of their course, drafted into one or other branch of the public service ; a School for the Blind ; two Girls’ Schools, a Normal School ; and twenty-three Municipal Schools, which supply a good primary and secondary education gratuitously to those who cannot afford to pay for it, and at a very moderate cost to those who can. The nine special schools arethe Polytechnic, the Book-keeping and Surveying, the Law and Languages, two Preparatory, the Industrial, the Medical, and Pharmaceutic, the Midwifery, and a third Preparatory at Alexandria, the eight others being all at Cairo. Although registered separately, the first three of these and one of the two Cairene preparatory schools are located in the same building, and are in reality rather divisions of one great establishment than distinct institutions. In the Polytechnic sectionthe most advanced of the whole, but which last year reckoned only thirty-three pupils with thirteen professorsthe course of study extends over six years, and includes the higher mathematics, chemistry and physics, geology, mechanics, Arabic, English or French (at the option of the student), geography, history, and drawing. The instruction given in this schoolwhich, and the next two, are grouped together in the spacious old building of the Garb-el-Gamamfs*is in all respects thorough, and the results, as shown at the yearly examinations, do real credit to its teaching staff, only one of whom, the drawing-master, is a European. The Book-keeping and Surveying school educates another class of employés, who are instructed, as its name indicates, in. account-keeping, land-surveying, Arabic, French or English, writing, and drawing. It last year registered only twenty pupils, .all resident, with the disproportionate staff of twelve professors, of whom the same drawing-master as in the Polytechnic was the only Frank. In the Law and Languages School the course is four years, and comprises Mohammedan and comparative European lawwith now especial reference to the mixed code recently framed for the new tribunalshistory, the Arabic, Turkish, Persian, French, and Italian languages, and Arabic and Roman writing taught by eleven professors (the director and one other only being Europeans) to thirty-five students, of whom twenty were residents. Most of the native judges and subordinate officers of the new Courts have been educated in this school, which must acquire increased importance as a nursery for both magistrates and pleaders, as the reforms now in course of experiment take root and prepare the way for a purely national judicature.
Of more immediate, both official and popular, value, however, is the Medical School at Kasr-el-Ain, which, founded in 1827 by Mehemet All, closed by Abbas Pasha in 1849, and reopened by Said in 1856, has since then, under the teaching of such celebrities as Professors Clot Bey, Reyer, Lautner, Bilharz, Griesinger, and other French and German specialists, restored Egyptian medicine to the rank of a science, and replaced the Frankish quacks of the last generation by a native faculty which has no equal in the East. The Mohammedan prejudice against dissection has here long been got over, and the latest results of Western pathology having been freely accepted, this college of Kasr-el-Aïn now yearly turns out physicians, surgeons, and apothecaries, many of whom would not discredit our best European schools. Its curriculum extends over five years, the first two of which are devoted to further pursuit of the general education already begun in the lower schools, and the remaining three to exclusively medical studies. Last year its classestaught by eighteen native professors, mostly educated in Europewere attended by 195 pupils, of whom 175 were residents, bound at the close of their course to enter the army or the civil service, and twenty independent outsiders who, though paying nothing for their instruction, are free to follow private civilian practice where they will. Up till recently, a relic of the old militarism of Mehemet All still survived in this institution, in the manner in which its classes were recruited. The resident vacancies were annually filled by an arbitrary draft of youths from the preparatory lycées, three-fourths of whom were apportioned by lot to the medical, and the remainder to the pharmaceutical section of the school, without reference to individual taste or aptitude in any way. This method of impressment, which was applied also more or less to the Polytechnic and Surveying Schools, may have been necessary forty years ago, when Government education meant only enforced preparation for the army, and was dreaded accordingly ; but as this is no longer so, and education is now becoming every year more popular for its own sake, the practice operated injuriously alike upon the schools and on the branches of the public service of which they formed the nurseries. Amongst numerous other reforms, the present Minister has abolished this arbitrary method of allotments, and the pupils are now permitted to choose and specially prepare for their own careers. A large and excellently organised hospital in connection with this school furnishes ample means of clinical instruction to the students, and gratuitous medical treatment to all comers, irrespective of race, nationality, or religion. Attached to it also is the School of Midwifery, in which thirty young native women, also wholly maintained by the Government, are taught reading, writing, arithmetic, the elements of medical science, and obstetrics. After passing through a three years’ course of instruction, they are certificated and sent into the provinces, where the common prejudice of Arabs and Copts shuts the door against male practitioners of this specialty. Next in importance to this flourishing medical college ranks the Industrial School at Boulak, the river port of Cairo, which though founded only in 1867, is already, as an agent of technical education, rivalling the success of its mature neighbour of Kasr-el-Aïn. Just as the latter fitly adjoins the military and civil hospital, so this Boulak school forms part of the great establishment which groups together the Government printing-office, the cannon-foundry, and the railway workshops ; and here again the instruction given, during a course of at first three but now of five years, is most complete. Besides mathematics, chemistry, drawing, topography, and English or French, the pupils are taught nearly every branch of practical mechanics, but especially engineering. Last year they numbered forty-four, all residents, with a teaching staff of six natives and three Europeans. The passed students of this school have already largely replaced foreigners as engineers and mechanical directors on the various public works and in the Government and Daïra, factories, in. which also the working hands are now almost entirely natives. Of the two metropolitan Preparatory Schools whose pupils, after an elementary course of four years, pass to one or other of these higher institutions, that in the same building with the Polytechnic, Surveying, and Law Schools last year registered an attendance of 192 pupils, of whom 157 were residents, with a staff of thirty-four native and four European masters. The instruction here given includes rudimentary mathematics, geography, history, drawing an accomplishment, it may be remarked, which is taught with great success in all these schoolsArabic and European writing, and the Arabic, Turkish, English, French, or German languages. The other school of this class, also in Cairoin the old Mamlouk palace that lodged Bonaparte’s short-lived Institut d’ Egyptewas one of the earliest scholastic creations of Ismail Pasha, having been founded in 1864, the year after his accession, and in respect of organisation and efficiency is surpassed by no other school of its kind in Egypt. Its course, which also extends over four years, is similar to, but a degree more elementary than, that of the school last noticed, and for the Moslem lads of its lower forms includes instruction in the Koran. Its muster-roll last year showed the large attendance of 539 pupils, only sixty-nine of whom were non-resident ; of its staff of third four masters but two are Europeans. The third of this triad of preparatory schools is at Alexandria, and also dates from 1864. In organisation and course of instruction it is a close counterpart of the second, with, however, only 298 pupils (twenty-three outsiders) and a teaching staff of twenty-one, of whom only the drawing-master is a European.
These nine special schools thus collectively educate 1,386 pupils, 1,218 of whom are residentstaught by a net staff of 136 masters, allowance being made for twenty-two doing double duty. For the year this is a diminution of forty-nine in the number of pupils as compared with 1874.
More interesting, however, than the whole of these male seminaries, as an evidence of progress and of the lead Egypt is taking in Eastern civilisation, are the two Girls’ Schools, which, though not yet three years in existence, are now admirably educating nearly 450 Moslem, Coptic, and other girls as, since the Hegira, women in the East have never been educated before. It is to the Princess Tshesma Haft Khanum, the third wife of the Khedive, that the initiative of this great reform is due. Three years ago the only public schools for girls in Egypt were that conducted with exemplary self-sacrifice by Miss Whately, and another by ladies of the American mission. But these, although attended by a few Moslem children, were but as a drop in the ocean for the great mass of the Arab population. The deeply-rooted popular prejudice against female education had, however, baffled every at-tempt of the Government to supply this primary condition of social reform, till, in the spring of 1873, the third wife * of the Khedive lent the prestige of her sex and her position to the effort. Under her auspices, and at her private cost, an old palace in one of the most populous quarters of Cairo was purchased, in great part rebuilt and adapted to the necessities of school life, with accommodation for 200 boarders and 100 outside pupils. Even thus sponsored, however, the scheme was so far in advance of public opinion that, although it appealed to the poorest classes, offering free board, lodging, clothing and education to all who chose to come, it was with difficulty the first batch of pupils was obtained. But, the spell of prejudice once broken, the school rapidly filled with both residents and outsiders, and since then the applications have been many hundreds in excess of the accommodation. The pupils, ranging from seven to twelve years of age, are of all ranks, races, and creeds known to Egypt from Pashas’ daughters to slave-girls ; Arabs, Copts, Nubians, Jews, and Levantine Christians of every cross of blood. The course of instruction, which will spread over five years, includes reading, writing, arithmetic, drawing, geography, Turkish, French, music, the Koran (for Moslem pupils), plain and ornamental needlework, cookery, laundry, and general houseworkall thoroughly taught by a staff of fifteen masters and mistresses, two of the latter of whom and the directress are Europeans. Periodical lottery sales are held of all needlework beyond the personal clothing of the pupils, and the proceeds given to a dowry-fund for the poorest girls.
The great success of this first effort to rescue Egyptian womanhood from the ignorance and apathy of harem-life, and so to lay the true foundations of a really national education, soon led to the opening of a second school with a less extensive course, mostly with a view to domestic service, in another part of the capital, where, under a staff of nine teachers, of whom the directress and one mistress are Europeans, 147 pupils (76 boarders and 71 outsiders) were last year maintained and instructed at the charge of the Khedive’s first wife. Both these institutions, adequately endowed by their faun-dresses, are now under the control of the Ministry of Public Instruction, and rank amongst the most flourishing and important of the schools of Egypt. A third is in course of erection, and will be at work before the close of the present year, and, in compliance with numerous petitions, arrangements are in progress to open others in the chief provincial towns. In fact, popular prejudice has been completely overcome, and if this movement in favour of female education be continued, as there is every reason to hope it will, in another generation the most essential of Eastern reformsthe social emancipation of womenwill in Egypt be an accomplished fact.
The first established School for the Blind is also little more than two years old, but it last year usefully instructed eighty-eight non-resident pupils in arithmetic, Arabic grammar, and the Koran, for all of which an excellent series of raised-letter text-books has been prepared and is in successful use. Similar instruction is given in a second recently-opened school of this class, in addition to which the pupilsmany of them adultsare also taught mat-making, knitting, wood-turning, chair-making, and other handicraft suited to their condition.*
The Normal School, which is also a recent addition to the system, is an effort of great importance to raise the level of education in the Arab primary schools, by training a class of masters of much higher qualification than the present illiterate fikis and moadibbs. With this view, instruction was last year given in mathematics, geography, history, writing, elements of physics, and the Koran to thirty-five non-residents, chiefly recruited from amongst the most promising students of the Azhar, who, if qualified at the end of a two years’ course, are appointed to country schools, with a fixed salary, and the prospect of further promotion. In connection with this institution, there are also classes for actual teachers of primary schools who desire to improve themselves, and so qualify for Government pay and employment. These persons receive gratuitous instruction and a pound a month till they either succeed or fail, during the same term, in passing the necessary examination.
Of the twenty-three municipal Civil Schools which complete the roll of the purely Government institutions, perhaps the most important, though not the largest, is that founded three years ago by Prince Tewfik Pasha, the heir-apparent, on his estate at Kobbah near Cairo, where, in addition to a very complete course of secondary instruction, practical farming is taught to ninety pupils, fifty of whom are boarders and the remainder gratis outsiders. This institution, like the two girls’ schools, is wholly supported by its founder, and so costs the education budget nothing. Besides it, there are sixteen other schools of this class, in or near Cairo, which receive no boarders, but, as before remarked, provide free instruction for those who cannot afford to pay for it, and levy only a trifling charge for those who can. These last year collectively registered 1,683 pupils. In Upper Egypt, three similar schools have been established in the towns of Beni-souef, Minieh, and Assiout, which together educated 631 pupils ; but of these 502 were residents, fed and clothed at State cost. A fourth is in successful work at Benha, in. Lower Egypt, 233, all residents ; and finally two in Alexandria (of which one was founded and endowed by Rattib Pasha) complete the tale with respectively 139 and 129 externes.
During the past year this list of Government institutions has been increased by the establishment of three industrial schools, in which the least promising pupils of the primary schools are taught trades, instead of, as was formerly the custom, being drafted into the army. In these the instruction is free, and half the proceeds of the work doneless a deduction of five per cent. for pocket-money is applied towards forming a fund to provide the pupils with free kits of tools and other aid to a start in life at the end of their five years’ course.
Next in official order after these Government seminaries come the mosque colleges and Arab primary schools, which are mostly supported by their own endowments (wakfs), and, with few exceptions, are independent of State control. At the head of this second category stands the great college of El-Azhar (” the splendid “), the oldest mosque in Cairo proper, and which has long been famous as the chief university of Islam. Last year this great centre of Moslem learning registered 11,095 students, attracted from all parts of the East, and representing in unequal proportions the four rites or sects into which Soonee orthodoxy is divided,* lectured by no fewer than 325 sheikhs or professors. Each “nation” has its separate riwaek, or cloister, with its library and staff of teachers proportioned to the number of its moogawareen. The present chief sheikh, or head of the mosque, belongs to the Hanafee rite, and has at all times been an important personage in the official hierarchy of Egypt. The present occupant of the post is Sheikh-ul-Islam for all the dominion of the Khedive. As might be expected, the instruction here given is much less liberal and modern than the curriculum of the upper Government schools. It is in fact, as before remarked, limited to the mental gymnastics of Arabic grammar, logic, rhetoric, Koranic law and theology, and to such a smattering of pre-Copernican astronomy and mathematics as is requisite for an almanac-maker, or the time-keeper of a mosque, with a view to precision in the hours for prayer ; for it is still both ” science” and doctrine at the Azhar that the earth is flat, that the sun moves round it, and that the sky consists of seven super-imposed canopies. At the Government schools reason and knowledge ridicule this old-world dogma, but here in the mosque faith clings to it still. Before the secularisation of the mosque lands by Mehemet All, the Azhar enjoyed large endowments, but these are now reduced to the rents of some adjoining houses, which merely suffice to furnish rations of bread and beans to a majority of the students, who, however, further receive from the Government distributions of clothes and provisions during Ramadan and on the occasion of the other great religious festivals. The instruction is of course free, as the professors are unpaid, and maintain themselves by private tuition, copying the Koran, and other clerical work. Up till 1872 these sheikhs were, in a manner, self-elected ; but in that year the Government interposed with an order that for the future they should be admitted to teach only after passing an examination in their respective subjects, and should be classified in three grades, promotion from the lower to the higher of which should also depend on a similar test of qualification. The result has already been a marked improvement in the quality of the instruction given ; but even yet, for all modern and practical purposes of education, this great college is centuries behind the secular State schools.
The other principal medressehs are those attached to the mosque of Ahmadi at Tanta, and to that of Ibrahim Pasha at Alexandria, the former of which was last year attended by 3,827 students, with thirty-six professors, while the latter registered respectively 413 and sixty-five. The instruction given in these seminaries is similar to, though more limited than, that provided at the Azhar, and, like the latter, both are supported mainly by their own endowments.
Comparatively wide, however, as are the scope and influence of the institutions thus briefly noticed, the true measure of instruction among the great body of the fellaheen is supplied rather by the kouttabbs, * or Arab primary schools, most of which date back from the early years of Moslem rule in Egypt, and rank, educationally, below the Irish hedge-schools a quarter of a century ago. As every village possesses one or more of these elementary nurseries of learning, the total number of them throughout the country probably exceeds 5,000, the whole of which were, up to three years ago, entirely free from Government control or inspection in any way. Last year, however, a sort of educational census was taken, which, though confessedly imperfect, registered an aggregate of 4,685 kouttâbbs, attended by 111,803 pupils. Of these, Cairo returned 265, with 8,875 scholars, and Alexandria respectively 187 and 3,114; the remaining 4,283 and 99,814 being scattered throughout the other fourteen provinces. About half these primary schools have, or originally had, small endowments ; but between these and the others which depend wholly on the voluntary contributions of the pupils-averaging a piastre a week each for those who pay anything at allthere is little or no difference in either the method or quality of the instruction given. The chief aim and limit of the whole are to teach the reading and learning by heart of the Koran, supplemented or not by writing and the most elementary arithmetic, beyond which modest range the scholarship of the fiki (teachers, plural properly foquah) seldom or never extends. Many of them, indeed, are not merely illiterate, but blind to boot, and depend on their great powers of memory and the adroitly used help of an arif, or monitor, for at all decently acting their part. Their emoluments however are, as a rule, on a par with their qualification, averaging commonly not more than an Egyptian pound (20s. 6d.) a month.
In the case of schools with endowments, this modest wage is supplemented during the month of Ramadan with gifts of a tarboosh, a piece of white cotton for a turban, and another of blue stuff for the usual long blouse, from the funds of the wakf ; to which the wealthier parents add gratuities of a few piastres as soon as their children can read or have learned by heart one or more of the 114 chapters of the Koran. As the office of schoolmaster, too, of whatever grade, is looked upon as semi-clerical, the fiki further adds to his earnings by reciting the sacred book at funerals, marriages and circumcisions, where he. is always a welcome, and generally a remunerated guest. Within the past couple of years, most of these primary schools have been induced to submit themselves to the Ministry of Public Instruction, to the extent of accepting periodical inspection, and in many instances a higher class of teachers furnished from the Normal School. But a few still conservatively resist State interference, and remain at the low ebb they sunk to after the Turkish conquest.
Still, rude and limited as is the instruction provided by even the worst of these kouttâbbs, they educate the great mass of the fellaheen up to a level which, low though it be, is much above that reached by the Mussulman peasantry in Turkey proper, amongst whom ability to spell out the Koran and scribble the simplest mektoub is a very rare accomplishment indeed. Any very consider-able improvement of these primary village schools must, however, of necessity be a work of years, as their very number and the cost of a higher class of teachers preclude rapid reform. But the policy of Riaz Pasha, the present Minister of Public Instruction, is to gradually bring the whole under State control, and by a better administration of their endowments, to increase the pay of the fiki, and so attract higher qualification, without either unduly swelling the education budget, or sensibly adding to ” local rates.” Much may, no doubt, be done in this way ; but even Pharaoh can no longer make bricks without straw ; and progress in public instruction, like the extension of railways or canals, must be regulated, not by what there is room for, but by what the country can afford. At present, without reckoning the military and naval academies (which are charged to their respective ministries), or the liberal donations made by the Khedive from his privy purse to the non-Moslem and foreign schools, and exclusive, of course, also of the wakfs by which most of the mosque colleges and primary village schools are wholly or in part supported, its education budget costs the Egyptian Government above 40, 0001. a year,* to which the Khedive adds 12,5001. a year, the rent of the Wady estate ; against less than 50, 0001. a year, similarly spent by the Porte on a population nearly seven times as large. True it is that much of this amount is absorbed by the board and clothing of pauper pupils, and so does not represent outlay on pure teaching ; but without such bribe of free living, few or none of those who benefit by it could be lured to education at all.
It remains to notice the native non-Moslem schools and those belonging to the foreign colonies, which form nearly as important an element in the educational resources of Egypt as either of the groups thus briefly sketched. Of the former, the Copts have in all twelve in Cairo, one in Old Cairo, one in Ghizeh, and two in Alexandria. Of these, the most important is the college attached to the Patriarchate, which last year registered 379 pupilsforty boarders and 339 externsof whom 302 were Copts, six-teen Moslems, one a Jew, eight Armenians, five Greeks, four Greek Catholics, two Armenian Catholics, and one a Syrian, to whom thirteen masters taught Arabic, Coptic, English, French, geography, writing, and singing. A theological school at the same time trained twelve non-resident candidates for the priesthood, teaching them divinity, Coptic, Arabic, and church chanting. A third seminary, the college of Hart-Saqqaïn, was attended by seventy-four non-residents, of whom seventy-one were Copts, two Moslems, and one an Armenian Catholic, who were instructed in Arabic, Coptic, English, French, writing, and arithmetic. In the same quarter is also a girls’ school, in which 45 pupils, all Copts, were taught Arabic and needlework ; and near the Esbekieh is another, where 80 girls received similar instruction. The remaining seven schools in the capital, as also those in Old Cairo, Ghizeh, and Alexandria, are primary schools attended only by Copts, and last year mustered altogether 244 pupils, who learned Arabic, Coptic, writing, and elementary arithmetic. The total cost of these Coptic schools was last year 201,518 piastres, towards which the Khedive contributed 109,688 piastres, being the rent of 1,500 feddans of land given by his Highness as an endowment : of the remainder, 20,000 piastres was derived from house property belonging to the schools, and the balance from the Patriarchate, which controls the whole. The Catholic Copts have besides several primary and secondary schools, chiefly in Upper Egypt; at Assiout, Takhta, Akhmin, Ghirgeh, Kenneh, and Nagadeh, in which last year nearly 300 children received instruction.
Besides several primary schools in Cairo and Alexandria, the Jews maintain in both cities, a large free school for children of their own community. In the metropolitan seminary 175 boys and the same number of girls were last year taught Hebrew, Arabic, French, Italian, writing, and arithmetic ; and in that in Alexandria similar instruction was given to 127 boys and 145 girls, of whom seventy of each sex were native Egyptians, and the remainder Israelites of other nationalities. There is also another Jewish boys’ school in Alexandria, in which a tithe of the fifty-five pupils are free, and the rest charged a small weekly fee. But these institutions furnish no complete measure of the state of education amongst the Jews of Egypt, as both boys and girls of this community largely frequent the numerous foreign schools in operation throughout the country, to such an extent, indeed, that an illiterate Egyptian Jew is now rarely met with.
The rayah Greeks support two free schools for boys and girls at Cairo, in which respectively 140 of the former are taught Greek, French, Arabic, arithmetic, mathematics, geography, and history ; and 120 of the latter learn Greek, French, history, geography, arithmetic, needle-work, and music. In Alexandria, where this community is more numerous, it similarly educates, in two separate schools, 430 boys and 222 girls, of whom, as in Cairo, a considerable number belong to other rites. Indeed, the liberality with which nearly all schools in Egypt are thrown open to all comers, without regard to race, creed, or nationality, is one of the most gratifying features in connection with public instruction in the country.
The Armenians, though availing themselves readily of both the native and foreign schools, maintain only one free seminary for thirty boys of their own community, at Cairo, in which the course of instruction is limited to Arabic, Armenian, French, and arithmetic.
The Syrian Maronites have primary schools in Cairo, and the Greek Catholics of the same ” nation ” another in Alexandria ; but the whole contribute little or nothing to the educational progress of the country, and call therefore for only passing mention.
Between these native so to speak denominational schools and the large contingent conducted by foreign missionary and other agency may be ranked the two fine “Free, Gratuitous, and Universal Schools,” founded in Alexandria and Cairo respectively in 1868 and 1873. under the patronage and with the very liberal support of Mehemet Tewfik Pasha, the heir-apparent. As their programme motes, these institutions are ” exclusively scientific and professional, and teach no religious dogma whatever, so that men and children of all creeds may come and learn what is needful for their aims in life. Their work belongs to humanity, and they cannot in any case become the instruments of a system or creed, since they recognise only liberty of thought, and morality dissociated from every preconceived idea.” So broad a basis, coupled with gratuitous instruction, speedily attracted a heterogeneous crowd of pupils to both schools, the 486 who were registered in Cairo last year including 262 Egyptians of every native race and creed, fifteen English, sixty-two French, seventy-three Italians, twenty-six Greeks, twenty-one Austrians, five Prussians, three Turks, three Russians, three Spaniards, and thirteen of undetermined nationality; while the 256 on the books of the Alexandria school were equally diverse. The course of instruction in both institutions is nearly identical, including Arabic, English, French, Italian, elementary mathematics, history, and writing. In connection with both are night-schools for adults, which are also largely attended by Arabs, Copts, Jews, Levantines, and Europeans of almost every nationality : the waifs-and-strays of Babeldom who have no time for school-work by day, but who take industriously to it six evenings a week under the attractions here offered. The Khedive is also a generous supporter of these schools, which depend on voluntary contributions for the balance of their expenditure.
The most important foreign day-school in Egypt is one Italian College at Alexandria, founded during the reign of Said Pasha, who aided it with a grant of 2,4001 , to which the present Khedive subsequently added the gift of a large and valuable piece of ground, the sale of a part of which covered the whole cost of erecting the college building. This institution ranks as a “national college,” and as such receives a subvention of 1,2001. a year from the Italian Government. The course of instruction includes Italian, Arabic, English (if desired.), French, mathematics, book-keeping, natural philosophy, history, geography, writing, and drawing. A majority of its pupils are Jews, and about twenty of the remainder Moslems.
Of the foreign missionary schools, which play so important a part in public instruction in Egypt, the oldest are those conducted by the Sisters of St. Vincent de Paul and the Lazarist Fathers, whom Mehemet All encouraged to establish themselves in Cairo in 1844, by a grant of valuable house-property as an endowment. The Brothers of the Christian Doctrine soon followed, and during the next ten years the success of these pioneers and the liberality of the Viceroys attracted further reinforcements of Franciscans, Sisters of the Good Shepherd, and other educational propagandists of Rome, who, it must be gratefully admitted, have contributed much to the spread of popular instruction in the country. Most of their schools are free, and, although the “national religion” of the whole is Roman Catholic, proselytism is subordinated to sound secular teaching, and the result has been a deserved success both in Alexandria and Cairo, to which their labours have been chiefly confined. Independently of private schools, these Catholic missionary seminaries last year registered 3,132 pupils, as diverse in race, creed, and nationality as those in attendance at any of the schools already noticed.
The schools of the American Board of Missions rank next in importance, and similarly awe their success in great measure to the liberal protection of the Khedive. The first of these was opened in Cairo in 1855, in a building granted by Said Pasha, and within the next ten years others followed at Alexandria, Medinet-el-Fayoum, Assi-out, Kous, and Mansourah. These have since been supplemented by thirteen others in the chief towns and villages of Middle and Upper Egypt ; until last year no fewer than twenty-eight schools, with an aggregate of 1,244 pupils, were in active operation under agents of the Board. Their chief centres of work are at Cairo, Alexandria, and Assiout. In the first of these they have a boys’ ” college,” two girls’, and one mixed school ; in the second, one boys’ and one girls’ school ; and in the third, one boys’ and one girls’ school, a ” college” for advanced male pupils, a theological seminary for native Protestant candidates for the ministry, and a training-school for female teachers. Nearly the whole of these are free, the cost of their maintenance being borne by the Board, aided by grants from the privy purse of the Khedive. Last year, the site of the old building occupied by the college at Cairo being required for one of the civil improvements, his Highness gave instead of it a valuable plot of ground in one of the best parts of the Esbekieh, with a donation of 7,0001. for the erection of a new and improved tenement, which will suitably lodge not merely the 150 or more pupils, but the whole teaching staff of missionaries and their families. Although these American schools throw open their doors to pupils of all races and faiths, their chief clientèle are Copts, amongst whom Messrs. Ewing, Lansing, Harvey, Hogg, and the other. principal agents of the Boston Board, have won deservedly great influence.
Comparable with the best of these American semina ries is the “British Mission School,” founded in 1862, and since then personally conducted in Cairo by Miss Whately, the daughter of the late Archbishop of Dublin, who has devoted her life and fortune to the promotion of instruction amongst the fellaheen, with an energy and liberality which have already made her school one of the chief educational forces of Egypt. Last year it gratuitously taught Arabic, English, French, geography, history, and writing (and to the girls needlework), to 150 male and 158 female pupils, chiefly peasants, but also including not a few’ of middle class and higher rank, whom the excellent repute of the school attracted to its classes. This institution is also much indebted to the generosity of the Khedive, who made a free grant of its site ; but it mainly depends on the private fortune of its foundress, and the contributions of English travellers visiting Cairo.
A couple of Scottish mission schools in Alexandria complete the list of the more important of these foreign auxiliaries of public instruction in Egypt. Last year these two institutions, which are also free to the poor, were respectively attended by ninety-five boys and ninety-two girls, of all races and creeds, who, besides needlework for the girls, are taught Arabic, English, French, Italian, writing, arithmetic, and history.
Such, then, is the educational machinery now at work in the dominion of the Khedive. The official inspection of last year, which was confessedly incomplete as regarded the village schools, and omitted also many private ones conducted by foreigners in the large towns, returned a total of 4,817 schools of all classes, with an aggregate of 140,977 pupils in regular attendance. This showed an increase of 1,072 schools and 27,722 pupils on the figures of the preceding year, but the augmentation is no doubt to be explained as much by the greater completeness of this last return as by the actual growth in the number of schools during the twelvemonth. ” On the other hand,” says the official report, “the inspection of more than one province having been made, either while the harvest was being gathered in, or at the time of high Nile, when nearly the whole population was out in the fields or on the river-banks, the recorded figures often imperfectly represent the average attendance of the year. Such as they are, however, the results now submitted prove a rapid increase, which shows how fructuous and persistent have been the efforts made by his Highness for the spread of public instruction in the country.”
Relatively to Europe, the educational level attained by Egypt is not, of course, a high one ; but it is still respectable. Thus, while Prussia and Switzerland register 15, France 13, England 12, Austria 9, Ireland 8, Greece 5, Portugal 2 1/2, and Russia 2 per cent. of their populations as receiving primary instruction, Egypt shows 2 per cent. of her motley millions as under regular school teaching of some kind, or, in fact, more than 4 per cent. of her whole male population, seeing how few of her 140,000 odd pupils as yet belong to the other sex.
Such figures form a potent factor in Egyptian progress, and in view of their steady growth from the first year of the present reign, are full of hope for the future, not merely of the country itself, butfrom its relation as the natural watershed, so to speak, of civilisation to the whole continentof Africa at large. Nor could the conduct of this great humanising work well be in better hands than it is at present. Riaz Pasha, the Minister of Public Instruction, like most of the other members of the present cabinet, was educated in Europe, and is a man of wide and liberal culture ; while, as remarked in a previous chapter, his inspector-general, Dor Bey, is a specialist of altogether exceptional qualification and devotion to his work.