Equal Partners
by Roland Ezri

Equal Partners by Roland Ezri

Equal Partners

By Roland Ezri

"Women are the backbone of all societies. They do a substantial part of the work, and play a major role in raising the future generation yet they are largely powerless. The decisions that count are made by men and foisted upon women."

Writings by Roland Ezri

The Second Exodus – Egypt – CXXXII. My Education – (8 of 13)

For the first time, Le Collége Francais found itself with an insufficient number of pupils for the remaining three grades. Their solution was to send us to a sister school (same administration under the general supervision of the French government), Le Lycée Francais.

Le Lycée may have been a close relative of Le Collége, but it was a wealthy one! It was known as a rich kids’ school with matching school fees. However, in the case of Le Collége Francais’ previous students, their low fees were retained. That said, we did find ourselves with wealthy students who inevitably looked down at us, at least at the onset.

Le Lycée was downtown in an upscale area of Cairo called Bab El Louk. It was surrounded by nice buildings and a lot of greenery, a far cry from Daher!

Needless to say, it was a major adjustment for the former students of Le Collége. What made matters easier, was that quite a few teachers followed us. As well, we walked, talked, and ate in a nice area. (Because of the distance, I could no longer go back home for lunch; and being an adolescent, that suited me perfectly).

Le Lycée had an edge over Le Collége. It taught both girls and boys, but it wasn’t coed. There were two distinct sections (and administrations) separated by a wall. Thus, the sexes (supposedly) could not intermingle. However, a wall, no matter how high, was not going to keep the genders apart. If that was indeed possible, none of us would be here!

Being well-to-do or very wealthy, many of the pupils in 3rd secondary put on airs. I remember two of them who were the sons of Egyptian aristocrats, their parents owned vast tracts of land, and they were chauffeured to school every day. During the summer, they went to Europe where they gambled, drank, and bedded the kind of women the rest of us could only dream about. They extended a (benign) offer of comradeship to me, and in time we became friends – well, sort of.

Third secondary was a tough year. We were taught subjects such as chemistry and physics. More emphasis was put on English, but French was not left behind. Indeed, one day, the principal came to our classroom to apprise us of an interesting proposal Le Lycée has received from the French Educational Authorities (FEA).

They (the FEA) were willing to award us a French Baccalaureate by accepting all credits we passed after taking the Egyptian Educational Authorities (EEA) exams. There was obviously one exception: We would have to write their French language exam. A smart move. The FEA knew the exacting standards of the EEA, and were willing to rely on them, and thus be able to propagate French even further.

The French teacher elaborated further. The French exam will be taken in two years time. It would come at a time when we were very busy preparing for the Egyptian Exams. There would be separate French classes for those who were writing France’s exams. Thus, it would increase our workload for the next two years. He gave us a week to think about it.

Close to three-quarter of the class registered; those pupils were given an essay to help determine who would be included in this program. Ultimately, less than a quarter made it (I didn’t make it); of those, many dropped along the way; of the rest, only a handful passed France’s exams. But it was still a matter of great pride for Le Lycée.

After the June exams, I failed English and drawing. During the summer, since I was in Alexandria, my cousins helped me prepare for the English exams; I also practiced my drawing. In September, I passed both exams.

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