“There are many different fields to explore in cooperation and in dialogue. But what could be better than to start from the beginning and to aim for the future?” said Sweden’s Ambassador to Egypt Charlotta Sparre during a First Generation event in Cairo. “The beginning of course being childhood, and the future being the young generation”.

In November 2016, the Embassy of Sweden in Cairo and one of Egypt’s largest public universities, Ain Shams University, arranged a cultural day with a special focus on education and gender equality. The event included a Swedish-Egyptian cultural exhibition, a seminar by Swedish professors promoting gender equality through children’s literature, and a panel discussion on the Sustainable Development Goals on quality education and gender equality. More than two hundred Egyptian students, teachers and academics in the field of education attended the event, which was organised by the Embassy in cooperation with Ain Shams University’s Faculty of Education and International Relations and Cooperation Office (IRCO), and supported by the Swedish Institute.

Ambassador of Sweden to Egypt gives opening remarks before the seminar begins.

After the opening of a cultural exhibition, academics, teachers and students from the Faculty of Education attended a seminar about children’s education and gender equality held by Swedish academics Dr Anna Nordlund and Ann Boglind.

In the afternoon, a panel discussion was held on the Sustainable Development Goals, with a special focus on Goal 4 on quality education and Goal 5 on gender equality. This panel discussion was part of the #FirstGeneration campaign, an initiative by the Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs to spread knowledge about the Global Goals and the important role of educators in engaging young people in sustainable development. The panellists included H.E. Ambassador Wafaa Bassim, UNICEF Director Bruno Maes, UNESCO Senior Programme Specialist Dr Nazar Hassan, UN Women Education Programme Specialist Hoda Kamal, and Dr Nardeen Nabil, Professor of Literature at Ain Shams University. The discussion challenged aspiring young teachers and current educators to evaluate the important role of schools in advocating for and achieving the SDGs. Attendees left feeling motivated to implement a more holistic approach to teaching.

The event ended with a screening of the Swedish documentary Astrid, about world-famous Swedish author Astrid Lindgren who wrote the Pippi Longstocking stories and many other famous books for children.

Throughout the day, attendees had a chance to explore an Egyptian-Swedish cultural exhibition highlighting Swedish children’s literature, Sweden’s global engagement, holidays and cultural icons, including Pippi Longstocking and Zlatan Ibrahimović. Egyptian heritage was also highlighted through ancient handicrafts such as pottery and sculptures of ancient pharoahs.

The panelists included H.E. Ambassador Wafaa Bassim, UNICEF Director Mr. Bruno Maes, UNESCO Officer-in-Charge Dr. Nazar Hassan, UN Women Education Programme Specialist Ms. Hoda Kamal, and Dr. Nardeen Nabil, Professor of Literature at Ain Shams University.


Text: Dina Elrashidy
Photo: Mohamed Samy