Egypt: No voices for Moms ,Educational Custody’s Rules Ban Children from Private Schools

Entry type: Single project

Country/area: Jordan

Publishing organisation: Arab Reporters for Investigative Journalism (ARIJ).

The Investigation was also published in Arabic at Raseef 22 website ( Arab media outlet).

Organisation size: Small

Publication date: 2022-02-03

Language: English

Authors: Ayat Khairi


Egyptian Investigative journalist, worked for many Arab and International media. She has a special interest in reporting on education and minorities. She worked as a former head of the investigations department in a national dailiy newpaper.
Khairi won first at the 2021 Katherine Schneider Journalism Award for her investigation report “Falling on Deaf Ears,”, which was carried out with the support and supervision of the Arab Reporters for Investigative Journalism Network (ARIJ). Also, Khairi is a winner of Egyptian Journalism Award 2017 from the Syndicate of Journalists in Egypt.

Project description:

The investigation reports on denying children of divorced women in Egypt their rights to study in private schools. Private schools provide educational services for families seeking better education quality in the country. These schools may refuse to accept the child in the absence of a judicial ruling that grants the mother “educational custody”. The Investigation documents 12 cases of divorced women whose children’s natural right to education has been curtailed by the “educational custody” provision .This custody refers to the law administering the children’s educational affairs, it is automatically given to fathers in the absence of marital disputes.

Impact reached:

After publishing the investigation, several members of the Egyptian parliament submitted a request to change the law so mothers would be granted the right of educational custody of their children. They also demanded to put penalties on schools that refuse to implement the law and denying divorced women the right to exercise their children’s educational rights.
The Investigation encouraged more women to speak up; the Egyptian Ministry of Education received many complaints from divorced mothers supported by a number of civil society organisations, demanding to get the educational custody of their children to apply for private schools.
The Investigation “Egypt: No voices for Moms ,Educational Custody’s Rules Ban Children from Private Schools “ was granted special mention at the ARIJ Award 2022, for which 133 investigations from 23 countries competed.
A national woman foundation held a number of seminars to raise awareness among divorced women about their rights in taking decisions for their children. and how to get “educational custody”.

Techniques/technologies used:

Excel sheet: a In this storytelling Investigation a databse was created using data of 100 schools in three big governorates. These schools costitutes the sample on which the investgation rely on .
The journalist perform data collection and analysis to reach the findings about how private schools act toward children of divorced women, and what conditions they imposed, to which the mothers should comply.Also, Public data was needed to get the statistics of divorced couples.

Context about the project:

Many texts in Egyptian law support women, but the implementation is the hardest part, as challenges and difficulties rise during this process, especially in the case of laws related to women.
The hardest part in this investigation was persuading divorced women to talk about their suffering. It is difficult for women in Egypt to discuss personal matters, as this may put them in trouble with their families and with the society. The journalist puts a huge effort to gain their trust and to encourage them to speak up.

What can other journalists learn from this project?

In case of the lack of public data, journalists have to put more effort into collecting and anaylsing data to reach important findings.

Project links: