Our Market

Egypt’s student-age population constitutes 34.6% of the wider population, and a high birth rate is expected to further increase this share over the long run. Millions of children of school age enter the market for primary education each year, with strong demand forecast to persist well into the long term. However, public spending has been unable to keep up with growth in the school-age population, leaving Egypt’s academic infrastructure severely depleted. Government spending on education remains considerably below the average for countries at similar income levels, and 82% of expenditures went on paying teachers’ salaries in the 16/17 academic year. Favorable demographics and continuous decline of the public-school system has left private sector providers of education with a massive opportunity for growth.

Forty percent of Egypt’s population is under the age of 18, according to official statistics. With 34% of the under-18 cohort being under 4 years of age, already strong demand for education will receive a significant boost over the coming years. Given that only 60% of males and 44% of females have completed at least secondary education, there is significant room for expansion in depth as well as breadth of coverage. Despite these lags, Egyptian families place great importance on their children’s educational attainment, with the culture placing a high value upon graduation from an institute of higher education.

Public spending on education in Egypt remains significantly below the level for peer countries, leaving large segments of the market underserved. The government of Egypt spends 3.1% of GDP on education, compared to an average figure of 5.0% for a group of peer countries. Of the USD 5.9 billion spent on education in the 16/17 academic year, 82% went on remuneration for teachers, with just 10% earmarked for investments in capacity and improvements. Lagging investment has led to ballooning class sizes and a rising pupil-to-teacher ratio, with further deterioration at institutes of higher education. Over the coming years, public schools are on track to see classrooms with 50 or more students. This has led to a situation where pupils at overcrowded schools frequently make informal extra payments to their teachers for after-class tutoring services. Experts estimate such expenses at USD 2.2 billion per year for primary and secondary education, equivalent to almost half the government’s education expenditure. Estimates of such payments in the higher education system range into the hundreds of millions.

Classroom Density Progression, Public Schools

Academic Year Public Students/Class
12/13
16/17

Classroom Density Across Sectors, 16/17 Academic Year

School Type Students/Class
Public Sector
Private Sector
CIRA K-12

Public Schools

Academic Year Pupil to Teacher Ratio (PTR)
12/13
16/17

PTR Across Sectors, 16/17 Academic Year

School Type PTR
Public Sector
Private Sector
CIRA K-12

This situation has left private education providers with a massive opportunity for expansion: as of the 2016/17 academic year, 10% of Egyptian students were enrolled at private institutions, far below the OECD average and leaving significant room for expansion. Between 2014/15 and 2016/17, enrolment growth at private K-12 institutions outpaced public school registration by 2.1%, while private universities’ enrolment growth exceeded their public counterparts’ by 2.4%. Of the approximately 2 million students enrolled at private schools in the 16/17 academic year, 1.85 million were enrolled at institutions catering to a broad middle-income segment. This segment is considerably fragmented by pricing and curricula, and ranges from religious schools targeting the lower-middle sub-segment to schools offering international-standard curricula to families in the upper-middle sub-segment.

An unmatched harmonization of quality and affordability leaves CIRA in prime position to exploit market dynamics. Our branded Futures schools are now the largest player in the diverse middle-income segment and stand to benefit directly from the Ministry of Education’s recent disbandment of Experimental Schools offering the national curriculum in the English language. This is projected to drive around 1.3 million students into the middle-income segment of the private education market. Affordable tuition fees designed to capture upgrades from the low-income segment should give CIRA highly profitable exposure to this expected inflow. At the other end of the market, three of CIRA’s institutions offer the same world-class quality of education provided by international schools catering to upper-tier families – at much lower prices. These schools cater to the upper-middle income segment and are poised to attract families seeking to leave upper-tier international schools.