What Was Education Like in Ancient Egypt?

Public education in ancient Egypt was very limited. Boys from wealthy families could attend school to learn how to become a scribe or doctor, but girls and lower-class boys were denied this opportunity.

Boys in ancient Egypt who studied to become scribes attended school from the ages of 4 to 15. They studied reading, writing and mathematics. After graduating, young men found employment with wealthy businessmen. Like modern day lawyers and accountants, they kept records and managed contracts.

Since most of the population remained illiterate, there was plenty of demand for their services. Scribes used a simplified form of hieroglyphics called hieratic for everyday use. The complicated hieroglyphic symbol system was used only for religious material and for carvings on buildings.

Wealthy girls were taught at home by their mother or father or a private tutor, who was usually a slave. On rare occasions, wealthy girls were also educated in how to read and write. Girls from lower social classes learned how to take care of children, spin, care for farm animals, grow crops and harvest grain. Boys learned how to farm using irrigation, become butchers and take up trades, such as weaving.

Medical and pharmaceutical schools called Per Ankh, or Houses of Life, developed in later Egyptian culture. They took place in temples and royal palaces, and classes were taught by scientifically educated priests.