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VIDEO: Why many Egyptians seem impressed by their new education minister

Shounaz Meky

Published: Updated:

A TedxCairo talk by Egypt’s newly appointed Education minister, in which he talks about the significance of passion in acquiring knowledge, has gone viral among social media users.

Tarek Galal Shawki appears in the video talking about his ongoing passion for learning. He looked back at himself as a young boy and explained that despite having grown older, he was still a young boy inside, wondering about the world.

In the video he recalls how he spent 13 years of his life as a professor of theoretical and applied mechanics at the University of Illinois, and how he switched to Information and Communications Technology when he saw that he had achieved all his goals.

“The journey of searching and learning should never end, and certificates are only small milestones,” Shawky said, adding that he’s still learning and discovering, searching for passion and ways to impact the world.

To many his vision of linking passion to learning sounded like a message of hope - a hope they shared and expressed as something that could actually change in the country’s ailing education system.

Shawki, who is known to be a fierce dissident of Egypt’s failing educational system, says he dreams of developing a model for learning inspired by countries like Malaysia, Finland and Singapore.

Born in June 1957, he received a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Cairo University in 1979 and then a master’s in engineering in 1983 from Brown University in the United States. He was subsequently awarded a PhD and worked as a researcher and professor in mechanical engineering at the University of Illinois.

He held the title director at UNESCO’s Regional Bureau for Science in Arab States from 2008 to 2012. He was also appointed as the dean of the School of Sciences and Engineering at the American University in Cairo in the same year.

Shawki will likely enjoy more popularity compared to his predecessor El-Hilali El-Sherbini, who faced calls for his resignation from MPs last summer when school exams were leaked on social media.