Egypt's new breed of students at E-JUST university
Education–the lack of learning opportunities for millions of children or even the lack of job opportunities once young people receive high school or university diplomas–was one of the fundamental grievances of the Arab Spring.
Egypt and Japan have launched an innovative higher education project which intends to tackle part of the problem.
The officially named Egypt-Japan University of Science and Technology (E-JUST) was officially launched in June, 2010 and when fully operational will offer some 3,250 graduate and post graduate students courses ranging from electronics and communications engineering, robotics, energy resources and environmental engineering, industrial, manufacturing and computer science.
Walking around the temporary campus recently–the permanent campus near the Mediterranean city of Alexandria will take several years to complete,--university President Ahmed B. Khairy said his facility was designed to meet many of the frustrated ambitions not only of Egypt's but the entire region's disaffected youth.
"Until now, most research was done overseas," he said. "For the first time this university will provide a rich research environment to our students. Egypt suffers a severe brain drain. But this university will encourage our best and brightest to stay at home or return from abroad."
A new breed of student at E-JUST
E-JUST will provide the kind of graduates Egyptian, Middle Eastern and African industries require, he said, by "developing new models of work and doing research in such cutting edge technologies as nano science and nano mechanics–technologies which will benefit the poor and not the rich."
JICA is working closely with Egyptian counterparts to establish the university, providing training for engineer and educational instructors and operational staff, developing educational programs and coordinating cooperation with 12 Japanese universities.
According to Dr. Khairy, E-JUST was developed along the lines of ‘best Japanese practice.’ There is a joint Egyptian-Japanese administrative committee, resident Japanese professors among the teaching staff and permanent JICA officials attached to the project.
The university will also act as a showcase for Japanese culture, values, language and technology in the Middle East region and Africa.
Because of this fulltime partnership, JICA Project Coordinator Iwasaki Akihiro calls it the "biggest and most comprehensive program of its kind undertaken by JICA."
In addition to addressing some of the demands voiced by Arab Spring protestors in the last year, officials said they hope to establish E-JUST as an important regional university and within 10 years as one of the world's top 500 centers of higher learning–aiming to revive Egypt's ancient academic excellence. Alexandria, for instance, was once the site of the world's greatest library and of the Pharos lighthouse, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.