Dr. Mamdouh Shoukri, President of York University, Toronto, warned that the religious component had grown in the education system in Egypt since his childhood there, and said that "by its very nature, religious education anywhere and at any time limits one's ability to think and keep an open mind." Speaking on the Egyptian DMC TV channel on April 20, he said: "I don't know how this can prepare a person to live in an open society."
Mamdouh Shoukri: "The goal of the entire education process, from kindergarten to university graduation, is to create a good citizen, who can benefit society and benefit from it, and raise a family, and so on. So it is very important to start education at kindergarten.
"Basic education (in Egypt) has changed significantly since I was a small child.
"The volume of religious education has grown significantly in Egypt. With all due respect to religions, by its very nature, religious education anywhere and at any time limits one's ability to think and to keep an open mind. I think this is one of the great problems. The second problem - and I won't quote figures because I'm not sure of them - has to do with the percentage of Egypt's GNP that is invested in education. It is below average, so there is neglect. But of course, this is not just about money. It is my opinion that the religious education is Egypt's greatest problem. I have seen figures. The number of Al-Azhar primary, junior high, and high schools has grown more than it should have. This is a phenomenon I don’t understand. Why has the state handed over the education to religious organizations? This is something that is difficult for me to comprehend. People should consider abandoning this and going back to the order of the past. If you want to study religion, you can do it at the mosque, the church, or at home, and you can also have one religious lesson a week."
Interviewer: "Or you could decide to learn it in depth if you want to join Al-Azhar."
Mamdouh Shoukri: "Right. But when you study region all day in a religious institute - I don’t know how this can prepare a person to live in an open society. The world has opened. Technology has connected everybody. How can you possibly understand other people this way?"