Hala Aboulela aspires to improve education in Egypt, one school at a time

By: May Allam         Sunday March 3, 2018

28536507_10159971129360705_458894004_nWith a vision to provide better learning opportunities for children in Egypt, Hala Aboulela, shifted her career from web design to education. The founder and president of Montessori Foundation of Egypt, and the mother of two, spent a significant amount of time researching and learning about different education methods. She developed a passion for Montessori education and decided to bring the authentic Montessori education to Egypt, for the first time. She established Montessori Foundation of Egypt (MFE), a non-profit foundation based in Cairo and affiliated with Association Montessori Internationale (AMI) in Amsterdam.

The foundation is also working on outreach projects supporting the establishment of Montessori environments in underprivileged and rural areas to offer the children a quality education. As Montessori is not just one of the world’s most successful educational methods, but a philosophy to understand human development and raise happy, independent, and successful children; MFE aims to participate in reforming both education and parenting in Egypt.

Women of Egypt: Ms. Hala, how efficient do you see the application of the Montessori system in Egyptian schools, particularly international schools?
Hala Aboulela: It is important to note that Dr. Maria Montessori did not have a patent for the education system named after her name; so, you would see all kinds of Montessori schools everywhere. Dr. Maria Montessori and her son Mario have founded the Association Montessori Internationale (AMI) to uphold and promote their contribution towards children.

AMI Montessori Schools have to meet high standards in order to be recognized as AMI schools. These standards include having guides (teachers) with AMI training relevant to the age group they work with, proper mixed age groups, uninterrupted work cycles, and specific sets of materials for each age group etc. At Montessori Foundation of Egypt, we have developed our Montessori Quality Assurance Programme which welcomes all Montessori schools and nurseries in Egypt. The process sets schools and nurseries on a path of continued growth and improvement towards AMI accreditation. We hope that soon, our programme would help Montessori Schools in Egypt implement their Montessori Programmes.

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WOE: Montessori nurseries are the most expensive nurseries in Egypt. They use the Montessori system for profiting rather than focusing on its potential benefit. What do you think could be done to change this?
HA: We believe that with more public awareness and with the help of our Montessori Quality Assurance Programme, parents would be able to find and choose nurseries and schools that allow the child to get an authentic Montessori experience. In general, I believe that the awareness of parents is something that could change the game in education and oblige education providers to offer high quality education.

WOE: Could the Montessori system be integrated in the Egyptian curriculum to encompass it as one of the building blocks of character in the primary stage?
HA: Montessori is implemented in different school systems worldwide and it is possible to implement it in Egyptian Schools too. In fact, one of our goals here at MFE is to map both the Montessori and Egyptian curriculums, to prepare a national one to be used in Egyptian Montessori Schools, not just in primary (elementary) but in all stages!

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WOE: Would you introduce a non-profit project to teachers how to correctly apply the Montessori system while teaching in Egypt?
HA: Yes, we are a non-profit foundation and we are already in contact with other foundations and community schools to prepare for our first community projects. Our aim is to maximize the reach of Montessori principles and values to as many children as possible in Egypt.

WOE: Can you tell us about your personal experience with your children?
HA: As a parent, Montessori was a life saver for me! Understanding the Montessori philosophy made me a more confident mother and has helped me to better understand my children. Our relationship together is very smooth and respectful from both sides.

WOE: Do you suppose in a few years the Montessori system in Egypt will be obligatory in the education sector?
HA: I hope that soon, Montessori schools would be an option that parents in Egypt could choose for their children. We hope to collaborate soon with the Ministry of Social Solidarity and the Ministry of Education in order to implement Montessori as an option in public education.

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WOE: Do you suppose you can further promote the system using media?
HA: Yes, Montessori is still new in Egypt and the media could certainly help us to promote it to both parents and schools.

WOE: Have you been approached by international organizations working in the same field that could help you apply the system in Egypt?
HA: We are affiliated to Association Montessori Internationale (AMI). Our affiliation to AMI is certainly our backbone as we offer all our services with the help of AMI trainers who have the knowledge of this successful method of education.

WOE: What are your future dreams and aspirations for Egypt, your children and yourself?
HA: I wish to see every child in this country having access to quality education, preparing them for the unknown future! For myself. I wish to further my knowledge and expertise in the field of community service as this is what makes me feel complete.

Check out Montessori Foundation of Egypt Facebook page and website.

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