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Insight 05/12/2018

Alexandria Schools Trust: a history

In 2014 the Alexandria Schools Trust (AST) merged with Education Development Trust and we continue to use the trust’s ringfenced funds to fulfil its founding mission: to promote and maintain the teaching of the English language and culture to children and young people of school age in the Middle East.

A history of Alexandria

The cosmopolitan city of Alexandria in the first half of the twentieth century had a mixture of cultures, and comprised Greek, Italian, French and British settlers. Between 1900 and 1940, the influential British community in Alexandria founded the three original schools upon which AST came to be based. The reason was to provide a British style of education for the children of prominent families from all backgrounds within the city. The Foreign Office supported the notion; offering a choice to parents alongside the French, Greek, Italian and German schools that had already become established in the city. 

The origin of schools

The Alexandria Schools Trust comprised three schools with differing origins. Victoria College for Boys opened in 1902 set up with funds from wealthy British residents. In 1940, a boarding branch of the school opened in Cairo and became fully independent in 1948. The schools became the preferred choice for the sons of prominent Egyptian and Arab families throughout the Middle East. The British Boys’ School opened in 1928, again with donations from British families with most pupils coming from the Maltese community.The English Girls’ College was founded in 1935, when the British community had recognised that a school for girls was needed so as not to lag behind other cultures. It provided education for a selective group of girls and academic standards were high. 

A time of change for the schools

Following Britain and France’s unsuccessful attempts to regain control of the Suez Canal, which was owned by an Anglo-French company, many British residents were expelled or placed under house arrest and the Egyptian government seized British-owned businesses, assets and property. This included the three schools, which were incorporated into the Egyptian state education system.The schools were renamed: Victoria College to Victory College; the British Boys’ School to El Nasr Boys’ School; and the English Girls’ College to El Nasr Girls’ College but all are still running today. Fees today are now at a lower rate, meaning that they are more accessible to a wider sector of parents.

The birth of the Alexandria Schools Trust

Following the Suez Crisis, the expelled school governors began claiming compensation. This was eventually paid in 1960 from Egyptian government funds and, with no chance of regaining possession of the properties in Egypt, each governing body used the funds to establish charitable school trusts. To save on costs, in 1972 the Victoria College and English Girls’ Trust combined. The British Boys’ Trust joined in 1980 and the Victoria College Cairo fund was transferred in 1987. 

For more than 50 years, AST has used its funds to promote and maintain the teaching of English language and culture across 20 countries in the Middle East, including Egypt, Malta, Ethiopia, Jordan and Syria. Education Development Trust is proud to continue this work today.

Find out more about our English language teaching work in the Middle East

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