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RANYA KHALIFA: "Democracy Digest"...


"Do we have a vision post Jan-25th?"

Posted on April 18, 2011 at 12:45 PM

Yes! Egypt's January 25th Revolution was a dream that had to be realized after 30 years of Mubarak's corrupt, stifling and repressive regime!!  Protesters in Tahrir Square as well as in many other governorates, notably Alexandria and Suez, came out in huge numbers and stood their ground, determined beyond a shadow of a doubt, that toppling the former president was both a necessity and an act of patriotism.

The Revolution was deemed "clean" and heroic by the international community, and we all felt proud of what the martyrs and "freedom fighters" in Tahrir and elsewhere all over Egypt had achieved for Egypt.  We felt like one homogeneous entity, Muslim embracing Christian, the old feeling proud of the tech-savvy young, and men and women standing shoulder-to-shoulder in street protests.  Slowly but surely, that homogeneous entity began to show cracks as different political factions and movements strode off in different directions, each striving to reap their own political gains.  This didn't come as a surprise, it was expected.  But, what I personally expect now from the coming government and president is a "Comprehensive Vision for Egypt".  In this blog post, I want to discuss my aspirations and hopes for a new and democratic Egypt. This list is by no measure exhaustive, but it contains the areas that I find most pressing at this stage. 

First, I want to see an extensive and intensive overhaul of the educational system, where curricula in both the public and private schools give students classes/courses in Human Rights Law, Citizenship Rights and Responsibilities as well as to increase  the level of cultural exchanges with other countries.  These countries need not only be Western cultures, but also Asian and Latin American cultures.  The aim is to reinforce the importance of cultural, ethnic and religious tolerance.  I also want to stress the importance of vocational training which is essential for economic development, sustainability, growth, and investment in Egypt.  A well-trained and skilled labor force will make Egypt's industries capable of facing global competition.  Needless to say, the Ministry of Education along with civil society NGO's and organizations et al must work relentlessly  to reduce the percentage of illiteracy in the country.

Second, I want to see a complete overhaul of the health system in Egypt, with an increase in the number of hospitals, particularly in areas with high population density.  Doctors need to get paid higher salaries and hospitals need skilled nursing/staff capabilities.  I want to pay particular concern to Drug Rehabilitation facilities, where it is stated by Egypt's National Council for Fighting & Treating Addiction (NCFTA) that there are 6 million addicts in Egypt i.e. 8.5% of the Egyptian population, many of whom are between the ages of 15-25.  The Egyptian media needs to have "Drug Awareness" campaigns, and to step up anti-smoking campaigns.  By the same token, attention needs to be given to mentally-disabled children, adolescents and adults.  The World Health Organization Assessment Instrument for Mental Health Systems (WHO-AIMS), reports that 5% of the training for medical doctors is devoted to Mental health in comparison to 10% for nurses.

Third, I want to see humane living conditions for the millions of Egyptians who are currently stacked like sardines in Cairo's slums!!  It is reported that half of the entire Cairo population lives in slum locations i.e. approximately 10 million Egyptians!!  It is out of this extreme poverty coupled with illiteracy and a poor educational system, that religious fanaticism is finding fertile breeding grounds.   These slum-dwelling Cairenes as well as all the Egyptians dwelling in slum areas must be relocated to decent housing, with connections to the transportation grid, bus routes and metro subways. The government has to focus on housing as one of the main pillars of social and economic stability in Egypt, along with reforming the education system, and of course, raising the per capita income.   

Last, but not least, I turn to Egypt's notorious transportation/traffic problem!  Egypt's traffic congestion is killing us all slowly but surely, if not by pollution, then by frustration and rising blood pressure levels!  The traffic routes will need to be re-designed, if Cairo is ever to attract foreign investment.  I truly believe that no matter how many fly-overs or bridges there are in Cairo and in other congested governorates, the problem will persist if we do not branch out into uninhabited desert areas. Driving rules and regulations need to be completely overhauled, and these new strict rules must be adhered to, any contravention of these rules must be punishable in a court of law.  Moreover, in a recent survey, Egypt was found to be the number one out of 35 countries, in terms of road accident deaths, with 156 deaths for each 100,000 vehicles! 

There is so much more I could write about, but I think these areas of concern will suffice for this piece.  The list is endless and the resources are indeed limited.  Egypt needs its citizens to unite now more than ever to wipe clean the foundation of this country and to re-build it on fertile, solid ground.  Re-building will not succeed unless Egyptians feel and believe that they now have a stake in making Egypt not only a success in its own right, but a role model for the entire Middle East.  After decades of subservient foreign policies and a wishy-washy stand on many foreign policy issues, it is Egypt's chance to re-write its own chapter in modern history.  No Egyptian is to be left out of this "New Middle East Order".  After decades of living under a Pharoah's tenure, finally the rule of Law must reign supreme, and each and every one of us, must be equally held accountable under this Law...


Categories: Egyptian Politics Today...

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