Educating for global citizenship in Egypt's private sector: A critical study of cosmopolitanism among the Egyptian student elite
El-Badawy, Emman Seif El Din
Thesis or dissertation
University of Exeter
In an age of globalisation, conflicting identities and cultures continue to remain a source of seemingly intractable conflict. Educative interventions are meanwhile increasing in trend among academics, politicians and multilateral aid organisations. Each regard education as a long-term solution to contemporary social and security issues. Supporting literature on the relationship between education and identity suggests that formal education has a powerful influence on students’ outlook on life, their loyalties and their identities. This premise suggests that when questioned about global issues, Egyptian students who attend international schools within their own country of origin should show more signs of cosmopolitanism and global mindedness than their nationally educated peers. Yet, contrary findings to that of prevailing discourse suggest that education’s ability to shape values and loyalties is likely overemphasised when placed in the context of foreign curricula and international education. At times, students of international schools involved in this study showed more signs of nationalism than their nationally educated counterparts, and presented as equally traditional, conservative and ‘anti-West’ as their compatriots. The thesis thus argues that when education is placed within an international framework, its ability to socialise is significantly weakened, as it is faced with considerable firewalls that are yet to be adequately acknowledged in the discussion of post-national citizenship education. Using a combination of interpretative and critical research methods, rich and original qualitative data was gathered on attitudes and lifestyles of elite Egyptians enrolled at a variety of Egypt’s private international schools. Twenty-two international school educated Egyptian students, and a control group of 21 nationally educated Egyptian students of the same socio-economic background were invited to participate in specially tailored one-to-one interviews to measure their degree of cosmopolitan attitudes. Supplementary participant observations of Egyptian families actively involved in Egypt’s international education community were also conducted to consider the complementarity of the students’ home lives with their school lives. Focus groups were held with students of international schools to determine their views and attitudes towards global issues and other communities. All findings from this research were assessed alongside large-scale values surveys including the World Values Surveys and the Arab Youth Surveys. With the large sample size of pre-existing opinion polls, and the unique isolation of curriculum type as an independent variable in this study, it was possible to assess the transformative impact that an international education plays in the expression of values and beliefs of Egyptian students. The findings of this thesis have multidisciplinary value. For political science readers, the study offers a critical and epistemological analysis of concepts of cosmopolitanism, Westernisation, globalisation and global citizenship. For readers of the Middle East, it is a study into Egyptian youth today and their conflicting identities and loyalties. The Egyptian experience of private international schools and foreign investment is representative of a regional trend, and valuable to those wishing to consider competing narratives for identity in twenty-first century Middle East societies. Finally, it is a study that has an added value to educationists as it explores the role education plays on identity, and more specifically the role of international schools on globalisation and international mindedness. The growing trend of research and analysis that focuses on increased global connectedness and a culturally converging world makes this thesis an important and timely contribution. In an effort to extend the debate beyond the prevailing macro-analyses of change through globalisation, this thesis stresses the importance of looking at global interconnectivity at the micro-level, and particularly how young people navigate and negotiate their identity within the context of increasingly transnational spaces. Through this endeavour, it has reached a critical evaluation of our current understanding of a ‘post-national’ future, through the attitudes and opinions of some of today’s internationally educated generation.
PhD in Arab and Islamic Studies