Thursday,19 July, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1305, (28 July - 3 August 2016)
Thursday,19 July, 2018
Issue 1305, (28 July - 3 August 2016)

Ahram Weekly

Hunting for a university

The Thanaweya amma nightmare continues as thousands of students apply to join university, reports Reem Leila

Al-Ahram Weekly

The Ministry of Education announced on 24 July the final results of the thanaweya amma, or final year high school exams, after a lengthy one-month period due to exam leaks of several subjects. This year’s thanaweya amma started on 5 June and ended on 4 July. The usual time allocated for the exams is around 20 days.

Minister of Education Al-Hilali Al-Sherbini held a press conference on Sunday, announcing that 75.7 per cent of thanaweya amma students passed this year, a percentage lower than last year’s 79.4 per cent. “Some 93 students who are residents of governorates were ranked top scorers in their exams but no student achieved a full grade in any one subject,” said Al-Sherbini.

According to the minister, a total of 483,366 students sat for the exams in July out of 560,533 who were registered. “15.88 per cent of students got between 95-100 per cent; 18.07 per cent achieved 90-95 per cent; 16.77 per cent of students obtained 85-90 per cent while 15.21 per cent achieved 80-85 per cent; 12.94 per cent scored 75-80 per cent, 8.5 per cent got 70-75 per cent, and 0.3 per cent of students scored between 50-55 per cent,” Al-Sherbini said.

He also announced that 117,187 students had failed and would need to re-sit the exams. Those who passed are scheduled to start applying for universities on 28 July.

The Ministry of Education has allocated hotline number 19468 for complaints and questions.

For more than a month thanaweya amma exams have been making headlines. Since the beginning of the exams in early June, exams had been leaked on social media, either prior to or during the exams, although the Education Ministry denied some leaks. The leaks led to public protests by students who were dispersed by police using tear gas. Some were arrested.

The leaks also put the ministry under increasing pressure, raising questions about the education system, which many are calling to change.

The ministry said that it took unprecedented decisions to counter the leaks, announcing it had referred 105 students to the general prosecution for “violations”. Last week, Al-Sherbini said that for the first time in the history of the thanaweya amma, eye glasses and watches with wireless technology were used for cheating, adding that some students also used ear pieces.

Following the leaks, Egypt’s President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi said that they would not be repeated next year, adding that the country was currently considering an overhaul of high school exams.

The race to enter top faculties in public universities is scheduled to start today. The first batch of thanaweya amma students are cramming at college computer labs to start applying via university websites. The application process is divided into three phases based on the students’ grades. The first phase starts with students who received the highest grades.

At each university there are at least six computer labs available for students to enable them to fill out their application. At least 4,000 computers in universities are available for students. Students eligible to apply in each of the three phases have seven days to apply for universities, in addition to two or three days for amendments.

Science students who scored a minimum of 90 per cent and arts students ending at nearly 80 per cent will be the first to apply. Ashraf Al-Shihi, minister of higher education, said the percentage of students who will join top-flight faculties will decrease due to the increase in the number of students who failed this year as opposed to last year. “This year the number of students of the science section who passed does not exceed 12,000 compared to last year›s 14,000,” said Al-Shihi who expected that the percentage needed to enter engineering, long considered a prestigious faculty, might not exceed 92 per cent.

Many Egyptians see educational reform and the thanaweya amma as a lost cause. They say every year the government vows to revamp the system but has so far not kept its pledge. If anything, they believe the situation is getting worse. Many say the system has become a threat to Egypt’s future and that education is the root of the country’s problems. Students and parents are dismayed by the lack of plans and programmes to improve the country’s education system. Many believe Egypt should tailor an educational structure instead of adopting systems from developed countries.

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