After what it says has been a lengthy investigation, the Egyptian government has taken action to shut down the 17 February Schools of the Martyrs, alleging that they are connected to the Libyan Muslim Brotherhood and do not have legal permits to operate.
According to the Egyptian Ministry of Education, the schools — located in Alexandria, Cairo-Nasr City, Cairo-6 October and Mansoura — should have closed their doors a year ago because of their failure to follow through on a number of decisions laid down by Education Minister Mahmoud Abdul-Nasr.
First, the Libyan Head of School, Tarik Al-Sakran, was to have stepped down, having been banned from entering Egypt because of his alleged involvement with legally banned terrorist groups.
In addition to this, in a memorandum dated 8 April 2014 provided by legal advisor to the Ministry, Ashraf Sayed Ibrahim Mahmoud, the schools were cited for plans to open a new branch without a permit, as well as having admitted non-Libyan students to existing branches.
Thus far, the rumour that some students were being trained as jihadis and sent to the front in both Libya and Syria has no grounds.
When asked how the Libyan Embassy planned to address the issue, Libyan Ambassador to Egypt Mohamed Jabril indicated he was frustrated, yet hopeful.
“Head of School Tarik Sakran has not returned any of our phone calls, so we really feel stuck between a rock and a hard place,” Jabril told the Libya Herald. “We’ve sent a letter of appeal to the Ministry of Education, however, and we expect to have a meeting with them tomorrow.”
According to Jabril, over 1,000 Libyan children have been affected by the closures.
“There’s no way that the Egyptian government is going to leave over 1,000 kids without a place to go to school. I am confident that we will work this out,” Jabril insisted.
Meanwhile, Libyan families are considering all sorts of options for their children, whose last day of school was this past Thursday.
For Ali Hussein, a high school student at the 6 October School, finding a new school soon is a must.
“I’m supposed to go to university in two years. Though I’ve enjoyed the vacation days, I need to find a new school quickly, but I don’t want to go to an Egyptian government school,” he said.
When asked what his friends were going to do, Hussein said that many of them were strongly considering going back to Libya.
As for the rumours circulating about the schools training jihadis, Hussein laughed: “No. Oh, God, no. Terrorists? No. Why would anyone think that?”
There is another set of Libyan schools in Egypt, Libya Bright Stars Academy, with branches in Cairo and in Alexandria. Those schools are completely independent of the 17 February Schools and have not been affected by the ongoing investigation.