Gamal Abdel Nasser... How was he educated? How did he become a military officer?!

Gamal Abdel Nasser... How was he educated? How did he become a military officer?!

Reviewed by: Wafaa El-houseiny

Translated by: Nour Elhoda Abdel Ghaffar 

By Amr Sabih

The Shamashirjiya (a Turkish word that is now used to refer to people who support the monarchy and the pre - pre-independence period in the Arab world) may wonder how Gamal Abdel Nasser was educated and then became an officer in the Egyptian army while he was the son of a poor man who was a postal worker?!

Their purpose in asking these questions is to suggest that there was social justice and equal opportunities in the royal era!!

These figures will give you the answers you need, Shamashirjiya:

First: How was Gamal Abdel Nasser educated?

  • Of every one thousand Egyptian citizens, there were only 15 people who were lucky enough to attend school, Gamal Abdel Nasser was one of them.

Gamal Abdel Nasser, born in 1918, reached the primary education enrollment age in 1924. The number of enrollees in all grades (primary, intermediate, and secondary) was 15 individuals per 1,000 Egyptians.

Of every million Egyptians, only 15,000 were enrolled in school.

The population of Egypt at that time was 14 million, of whom less than a quarter of a million were studying in the various stages of pre-university education; young Gamal Abdel Nasser was one of them.

With their usual dexterity and ingenuity in falsifying history, one of the Shamashirjiya may say:

"Perhaps those quarter of a million individuals are only the Egyptians who have not exceeded the school enrollment age, while the rest of the 14 million Egyptians have already been educated and completed their studies."

Figures are the best response to Shamashirjiya because the percentage of Egyptians under the age of 15 (in 1927) was 38.6%, meaning that at that time the number of Egyptians of school age was about 5.3 million individuals, of whom only a quarter of a million were enrolled in schools.

What prevented the rest from attending school?!

When the revolution of July 1952 took place, and despite the efforts of Najib al-Hilali Pasha and Dr. Taha Hussein throughout the 1940s to implement free primary and secondary education, 75% of the Egyptian people over the age of ten were unable to read and write.

Also, more than 90% of females over the age of ten were unable to read and write.

- Second: How did Gamal Abdel Nasser join the Military College?

- In 1911, Italy occupied Libya, Egypt's neighbor to the west, and in 1935 Italy occupied Ethiopia. After the Italian fascist regime led by Mussolini allied with the German Nazi regime led by Hitler, and with the expansion of the German rearmament program under Hitler, the English began to consider preparing for a world war that was approaching day by day. Italy would be against them, and its armies would surround Egypt from the west and the south, so the British government concluded with the Egyptian government, headed by the Wafd party leader Mustafa al-Nahhas, the Treaty of 1936 on August 26, 1936. Among its clauses was a clause that allowed for an increase in the number of officers in the Egyptian army. After the Military College admits the usual required number of the sons of the Pashas and the elite, a number of young Egyptians from the other social classes are admitted to use the Egyptian army to defend Egypt and reduce the burden on the British occupation army in the face of the upcoming war.

The Shamashirjiya may not know that Gamal Abdel Nasser, after obtaining a baccalaureate degree in the literary department, decided to enroll in the Military College; he succeeded in the medical examination but failed in the commission's examination because he was the grandson of a farmer from Bani Mur and the son of a simple employee who has nothing. It was also because he participated in the demonstrations of 1935, and because he did not have an intermediary.

When Gamal Abdel Nasser's first attempt to become an officer failed, he enrolled in October 1936 at the Faculty of Law at Cairo University, where he stayed for six months. However, at the end of 1936, the Ministry of War announced the need for a second batch of officers to increase the number of young Egyptian army officers in light of the English’s fears of the ambitions of Nazi Germany. Gamal Abdel Nasser applied for the second time to the Military College, and in order not to be hindered by the reasons for his rejection the first time, he was able to meet the Undersecretary of the Ministry of War, Major General Ibrahim Khairy, who was impressed by his frankness, patriotism, and insistence on becoming an officer, so he agreed to admit him in the Military College. In March 1937, Gamal Abdel Nasser became a student at the Military College.

It was the conflict in Europe that led to an increase in the number of young Egyptian army officers regardless of their social class or wealth. Gamal Abdel Nasser, Anwar Sadat, and a group of Free Officers were among these young men.

It was not because of equal opportunities in the royal era or thanks to a grant from the king, but because Britain arranged to fight a new world war, before which it wanted to arrange the situation of its colonies.

Third: The meaning of the term "Shamashirjiya".

- Shamashirjiya:

A Turkish word that denotes the servants responsible for washing dirty clothes. This description applies completely to the supporters of the monarchy and the pre-independence era in the Arab world. Originally, the Shamashirjiya washed the dirty clothes of their master, the Sultan, the Khedive, the king, or the feudal lord, and then helped their master wear his clothes and shoes. The current Shamashirjiya attempt to wash away the dirty history of the royal families and the ruling classes in the Arab world at the time of occupation. Indeed, I respect the original Shamashirjiya, because they were only doing their job and cleaning the dirt of their masters' clothes. Meanwhile, the current Shamashirjiya only polish the dirt and disgraces of their masters' history which is a falsification and distortion of the truth, and glorification of the age of occupation, which is a crime similar to and more dangerous than the crime of forging official papers and documents. The current Shamashirjiya seeks to create generations that lack awareness and loyalty and are enamored by the age of occupation and against national independence.

- Photo of Lieutenant Gamal Abdel Nasser after graduating from the Military College in July 1938.



Redefining the Egyptian nation 1930 - 1945 by Israel Gershoni and James P. Jankowski Cambridge University press

Helen Chapin Metz, ed. Egypt: A Country Study. Washington: GPO for the Library of Congress.

Congress, 1990

Ahmed Abdullah Riza: Students and politics in Egypt

Abdul Khaliq Farouk: How much do Egyptians spend on education?

Mohamed Ouda: The Birth of a Revolution

Mohamed Hassanein Heikal: Suez files

Rauf Abbas: The July Revolution, Its Pros and Cons, Half a Century Later, Cairo, 2003

Ahmed Hamroush The Story of the 23 July Revolution - Part One