How it all began
A fore-runner of the school was short-lived Arabic Union Mission Training School, operated in Matariah, near Cairo, from 1927 to 1930, directed by V.E Toppenberg with Ibrahim Khalil as teacher. In 1941, there were two schools, one at Beni-Adi, and another at Tataliah. In a decade and a half, the educational work grew to twelve schools. In 1946, the Egypt Training School was established at Fayoum, upper Egypt.
In 1946, the Egypt Training School was established at Fayoum, upper Egypt. It was situated on a sixty-five acre farm in an oasis area. It was mainly for intermediate and secondary Seventh-day Adventist boys. During the first year when the administration building was under construction, the twenty-five students who attended, lived in tents until a dormitory was constructed. Robert L. Rowe was the first director of the school, he also was in charge of the farm. He continued his position until 1948 then E. C. Wines was appointed principal. Principals after Wines were Yacoub Nashed, son of the first native believer in Egypt, Chafic Ogah, L. H. Cowles, W. R. Lesher, and Shehata Guindi all followed after.
In 1953, it was decided to move the institution to a place near Cairo. Accordingly a piece of land was secured at Gabal Asfar, ten miles northeast of Cairo. Funds were provided by the Middle East Division to begin construction on this training institute in the Nile Valley. However, before boarding facilities were arranged at Gabal el Asfar, a secondary school was first conducted in Heliopolis, with T. S. Russel as headmaster.
Administration building was constructed. Classes began in October 1954, with thirty-nine male students who carried on an agricultural program as part of their training. Out of interest in the agricultural work of that school, the Egyptian Government re-directed the course of a canal they were digging in the area so as to touch the boundary of the school property. Soon the rich waters of the Nile River brought fertility to the dry sandy land of the school. In the mid-1950s government curriculum requirements caused the church to close most of its schools, this school along with the Heliopolis Adventist School remained open. The Heliopolis elementary school was later moved to property at nearby Zeitoun.
In 1963, government authorization was secured and the intermediate school was opened. It also worth noting that by 1958, trees planted at the Gabal Asfar farm began to bear fruit. Carpentry was added to the curriculum and enrollment increased to fifty students. The industries, farm, and dairy made rapid progress and became self-supporting. However, the increasing government regulation led to the adoption of a seminary-type program, and the school was renamed to the Adventist Theological Institute. It was recognized by the government and by the ministry of education as a theological school. Students from Matariah and others who finish their primary education at the elementary school in Zeiton, went to Gabal Asfar to complete their intermediate and secondary studies. The importance of this school in training future workers for Egypt becomes more meaningful since there was but one worker for each 570,000 individuals, one church member for each 35,000 individuals, and one Seventh-day Adventist for each fifteen square miles of the Arab-land. By 1963, the school was functioning with a faculty of eight teachers and a staff of seven other workers. Theology and religious training were emphasized, and the school was accredited by the Board of Regents of the Middle East Division.
Since public schools in Egypt operate on Saturday, Adventist youth are often faced with serious problems. Examinations were almost invariably scheduled for Saturday, and if students do not sit for these examinations, they are not given credit for the work covered during the school year. After much consideration, the educational secretary of the Egypt Section, Safic Ghali, made an appeal to the Director General of the Educational Zone; he requested that some arrangement be worked out so that SDA students could receive their examinations on some day other than Saturday. Ghali’s efforts were fruitful. After much correspondence and several interviews with the educational authorities, the Director General of the Educational Zone issued the following instructions:
“In view of the religious circumstances of the Adventist Intermediate School which compel them to refrain from any work during Sabbath and to keep it holy, the Zone concurs in the school’s request to allow their students to sit for the promotion examination on days other than Sabbath.”
In harmony with the above action, it was arranged that all SDA students in the various districts could come to Heliopolis and sit for the examinations on a day other than Saturday. Certainly that was a favorable consideration by the educational authorities in a country.
The boys dorm was completed in 1959 and within a few months electricity, water and a telephone line was connected. A new wing to the administration block was added in 1961 and girls dormitory was openned in 1989. However unfortunately the school lost its government accreditation in 1986, the same year it was formally renamed to Nile Union Academy. Currently the school is accredited by Middle States Accreditation (MSA) and the North American Division of SDA Schools (NAD). An NUA diploma is accepted in many places around the world. NUA is still working on being accredited with the government again.