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Full text of "The Egyptian Problem"

xm        ,                        EDUCATION                               229
more instruction in the vernacular, and Arabic has now become the chief teaching medium. But the difficulty with Arabic is that the vernacular differs very widely from the literary tongue, which is that of the Koran. Mahomedan influence clings to the latter and would fain have every text-book written in it, which is much like requiring of an English text-book on aviation that DO word be used which cannot be justified out of Chaucer. The scientific text-books suffer most, but the study of Arabic itself tends to slip to the ground between the two stools of the literary and vulgar tongues. European teachers are naturally prone to hold the change largely responsible for the steady retrogression in the Secondary Schools. The arguments in favour of making the language of the country the vehicle for instruction are admittedly very strong. But, unfortunately, there is very little modern literature of any value in Arabic, and youths who under the present system do not learn enough English or French to get any pleasure out of English or French literature feed chiefly on vernacular newspapers more exciting than edifying. Only in one thing does the Western education they are supposed to receive in Government schools impress its stamp upon all. The boys are all obliged to wear European clothes, far less clean and far less suitable to the climate than their own native dress.
The British teaching staff, amongst whom are to be found some of the severest critics of the whole system imposed upon them, is often harshly taken to task by Egyptians. The service would probably have been less open to attack if men had been specially recruited for it from the beginning. But for a long time the best amongst those who joined it were promptly switched off into the other public services. When the war broke out, most of the British and French teachers went off to fight or to do war work, and at a critical moment the European element in the schools was reduced to a minimum, Then during the last twelve months the Egyptian teachingyptians bega^to agitate forponse from the Egyptian               1