Cairo, Asharq Al-Awsat—Egyptian Minister of Education Mahmoud Abo El-Nasr said on Thursday that the government had retaken control of more than 150 Muslim Brotherhood-run schools in Egypt.
In exclusive comments to Asharq Al-Awsat, the education minister said: “Up to this point, 174 Muslim Brotherhood-run schools have returned to Ministry of Education administration.”
Nasr’s comments come after Egypt’s Ministry of Justice issued a list of schools across the country with financial or administrative ties to the now-outlawed Islamist organization. The ministry launched a broad-ranging investigation into privately run schools in Egypt following the ouster of Islamist President Mohamed Mursi and the designation of the Brotherhood as a terrorist organization in December.
“The ministry will focus on improving the educational process in these schools, and for the first time parents will participate in school administration,” the minister said.
This latest announcement from the Education Ministry comes after a previous decision in late December to inspect 147 schools with suspected ties with the Brotherhood.
In a statement issued shortly after Cairo designated the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organization in December, the Education Ministry said that any private school whose board of directors was made up of more than 5 percent Brotherhood members or which received financing from the organization would be nationalized and come under government administration. The statement added that the Education ministry would nominate new headmasters for the 147 schools, in addition to restructuring their boards of directors.
According to local media reports, there were approximately 400 Muslim Brotherhood-run private schools in Egypt at the time of Mursi’s ouster in July. Cairo has slowly been reasserting its grip on Egypt’s education system, which many claim had been Islamized during Mursi’s one-year rule.
The Muslim Brotherhood was a de facto outlawed organization during the Mubarak era. Despite this, the Islamist movement had been able to independently gain control of a number of schools’ boards of directors. Following Mursi’s election, the Brotherhood significantly increased its presence in Egypt’s schools, including claims that it sought to Islamize the national curriculum.
A high-level source within Egypt’s Education Ministry, speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat on condition of anonymity, said: “The Brotherhood focused on secondary school education, viewing this as a perfect time to influence and control young minds and gain supporters.”