Friday,20 October, 2017
Current issue | Issue 1263, (17 - 30 September 2015)
Friday,20 October, 2017
Issue 1263, (17 - 30 September 2015)

Ahram Weekly

Back to the blackboard

Universities and schools are getting ready to start the new academic year, reports Reem Leila

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Al-Ahram Weekly

Summer is over, and after the Eid holidays next week, the school bells will start ringing. The new academic year will kick off on 27 September, much to the chagrin of many students and distress of many families. Teachers demanding salary raises, the changing curricula, text-books which are unavailable, and ill-equipped classrooms are among the greatest concerns.

All of Egypt’s 45,773 schools will start the new academic year as scheduled during the last week of September, dispelling rumours of a postponement until the first week of October.

More than 17 million students will soon start their new academic year as parents debate their annual fear regarding the lack of school textbooks. Minister of Education Moheb Al-Rafei, who was part of a major cabinet reshuffle earlier in the week, was instructed to stay in his post until a new cabinet is formed. Al-Rafei said the ministry had printed and delivered 77 per cent of new textbooks for schools, adding that the remaining number will be finished before the beginning of the new academic year.

Before Al-Rafei’s resignation he held a press conference in which he said the ministry had completed the literacy project to enhance the beginning of a treatment programme which began last July. The ministry, Al-Rafei said, had also managed to train 75,000 teachers and 2,200 school headmasters. The 30,000 new teachers who won a ministry-appointed contest will also be trained.

“The literacy treatment programme will be completed by the end of December. The ministry has enhanced school curricula especially that of the secondary stage and introduced skills to 30 per cent of them,” Al-Rafei said.

The school year will stretch 221 days, 126 in the first term and 95 in the second semester. The mid-year holiday will start on 30 January 2016 and the school year will end on 26 May.

This year, 200 new schools have joined the already existing 45,773 schools. According to Reda Abu Serei, deputy to the minister of education, the ministry has created a hotline — 62191— and the email minister@email.emoe.org for the public to send complaints and suggestions. “Complaints will be thoroughly studied by a specialised committee at the Ministry of Education,” Abu Serei said.

“Reforming Egypt’s education system is atop the Education Ministry’s agenda. The ministry intends to remove all superfluous material from all school textbooks,” said Abu Serei. The parts removed from the curricula have been sent to the country’s schools. Religion, Arabic and science are being revised by a number of specialists, each in his field.

Meanwhile, school teachers protested on 10 September asking for an increase in their current salaries, from LE1,200 to LE3,000. The teachers are also seeking an increase in the education budget to five per cent of Gross National Product (GNP), as well as an increase in pension for teachers who have retired. Rasha Ahmed, a teacher, said that since the protest began, officials have been “very evasive”.

“Promises, promises without any pledges met; this is all we get,” Ahmed said.

In a similar context, public universities will open their doors on 27 September whereas some private universities have already started. The university academic year starts amid fears of the implementation of a controversial decision which exempts students of high-ranking government employees from zoning regulations when entering university. The decision was annulled by former prime minister Ibrahim Mehleb. The Supreme Council for Universities (SCU), which is headed by Minister of Higher Education Al-Sayed Abdel-Khaleq instructed all universities to finish the admission and registration process before the beginning of the new academic year. Abdel-Khaleq will also stay on the caretaker government until a new one is formed.

Abdel-Khaleq denied rumours that universities will start the first week of October. He also said that no exceptions were made for students who are children of high-ranking employees in the country regarding zoning regulations while joining university. “The ministry will soon establish the first university with maritime specialties to serve projects to help develop the new Suez Canal as well as Sinai,” Abdel-Khaleq added.

Abdel-Khaleq announced in a press conference earlier this month that security measures on campuses had been tightened. “A security company will be responsible for monitoring students in universities,” Abdel-Khaleq said.

The minister added that no political activities will be allowed. “We will not allow the presence of parties or party blocs within university premises. The ministry will hold several symposiums to increase the political awareness of students.”

 

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