On a rooftop in Cairo’s disadvantaged neighborhood of Saft El-Laban, the tips of the Pyramids of Giza visible in the distance through the clouds, are engaged and energetic students arguing about world history, politics and philosophy. They laugh, talk over one another, ask questions. Often the students are so excited for class that they push each other to get through the door. This is a typical scene at Mish Madrasa. Mish Madrasa in Arabic means “Not a School.” We are not just a school. Mish Madrasa is a community-based alternative focused on positive youth development, social emotional learning, English language proficiency, interactive and multi-media pedagogies and project-based learning.
Serving primary and secondary year youth and operating in the ashwa’iyyat – or irregular community – of Saft El-Laban in Cairo, Egypt, Mish Madrasa promotes a culture of tolerance, social inclusion, gender equality, individual empowerment, community service, generosity and volunteerism, and teamwork. While we implement current education pedagogies – such as interactive media, the U.S. based concept of Project-Based Learning (PBL), and 21st Century employability skills – we also teach traditional subjects such as history, applied reading and writing in Arabic, and math.