This research explores non-formal education in Egypt, analyzing its alignment or divergence with prevalent human capital and modernization discourses. Using a narrative approach, the study explores the practices of four organizations that offer non-formal education opportunities in greater Cairo: San3a Tech, Wataneya Society, Alwan wa Awtar, and AlAthar Lina. The study explores the narration of 9 educators and 10 learners from these organizations to understand from educators’ perspectives how they design their experiences and its relation to the culture and needs of the targeted audience. It also looks at what kind of impact do these experiences have on the learners. The study uses the human capabilities approach and culturally relevant education models as a framework to understand these narrations.

The study shows two methods used in developing non-formal education in the Egyptian context: adaptation of imported models and participatory approaches within target communities. Culture is perceived in these organizations as a multifaceted aspect. It is seen as a silent factor, barrier, dynamic factor, and resource. The study offers a different perspective of culturally relevant education than the one studied in a multicultural context like the United States.

The findings highlight that while employability remains a central concern, these organizations extend their impact beyond conventional human capital ideals. They situate themselves in a place between neoliberal approaches and liberatory approaches to education, focusing on individual empowerment. The study identifies enhanced self-awareness, self-efficacy, and social competency as key outcomes for learners engaged in these non-formal education experiences.

The study implies the need to diverge from the one-size-fits-all all in education, more research on the meaning of culturally relevant education in the Egyptian context, and longitudinal impact assessments of non-formal education programs beyond the confinements of the human capital impacts.


School of Humanities and Social Sciences


Educational Studies Department

Degree Name

MA in International & Comparative Education

Graduation Date

Spring 2-28-2024

Submission Date


First Advisor

Malak Zaalouk

Committee Member 1

Teklu Abate

Committee Member 2

Maha Bali



Document Type

Master's Thesis

Institutional Review Board (IRB) Approval

Approval has been obtained for this item