The Ministry of Education denied on Wednesday that a photo of Egyptian Nasa scientist and former presidential advisor Essam Heggy was removed from a secondary school textbook.
Minister spokesman Bashir Hassan said Wednesday that Heggy’s accusations are not true as his name “is in page 58 of newest edition [2015-16] of the national studies book”, adding that he is mentioned “among individuals who achieved international acclaim”.
The 2016-17 edition is still being revised by education officials, Hassan added.
Earlier on Wednesday, Heggy said on his personal Facebook post that he was shocked to find that his name and profile in the book was removed.
Born in 1975, Heggy is an Egyptian scientist who studied astronomy at Cairo University and then went on to acquire his doctorate from Paris in the field of planetary discovery, making him the first Egyptian scientist to hold such a degree. Heggy is currently working with Nasa.
Heggy has been critical of the current regime’s policies related to education, health, and security. Heggy said he was verifying a report stating that the ministry removed Mohamed ElBaradei’s photo from a textbook, only to find his removed as well.
ElBaradei was removed from a textbook in the primary school national curriculum a year ago, under the rule of former minister Moheb Al-Rafie.
According to the ministry, the committee responsible for the national curriculum said the reason behind the removal was in response to complaints by students’ families.
ElBaradei has often been at the centre of controversy for his critical political stance since 2011. He took part in the 25 January Revolution and was later accused of involvement in the United States invasion in Iraq in 2003. He opposed the 30 June uprising in favour of democracy, and he resigned from his position as vice president of foreign affairs under interim president Adly Mansour in mid-August 2013 following the deadly dispersal of Muslim Brotherhood sit-ins.
Egypt’s educational curriculum has been criticised for being nationalist and containing a “politicised version of history”. A study by the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR) published in 2014 claimed that educational curricula for preparatory and secondary schools is nationalistic.
The study examined history and national instruction textbooks in the academic years 2012/2013 and 2013/2014 in order to formulate recommendations for the Ministry of Education, which recently announced it would change 30 textbooks to incorporate the political events since 2011.
It found that the “Brotherhoodisation” of education, the alleged attempt of the Muslim Brotherhood to rewrite the educational curriculum, was exaggerated, as changes made under the rule of the Brotherhood’s political wing, the Freedom and Justice Party, were “few and insignificant”.
After the ouster of former president Mohamed Morsi in July 2013, former education minister Mahmoud Abou El Nasr said he would investigate the “Brotherhoodisation” of education.
The study noted that the 25 January Revolution that ousted former president Hosni Mubarak is not portrayed as an uprising against the post-1952 system, but rather as opposition against distinct wrongdoings in the last 10 years of Mubarak’s rule.