Sunday,20 August, 2017
Current issue | Issue 1355, (3-9 August 2017)
Sunday,20 August, 2017
Issue 1355, (3-9 August 2017)

Ahram Weekly

Education overhaul

The minister of education has announced new rules to regulate the system, reports Reem Leila

 

Shawki during the press conference
Shawki during the press conference

Minister of Education Tarek Shawki has announced several new rules regarding the education system in Egypt. Among these is the cancellation of the Primary Education Certificate. Sixth grade of primary school will be a normal school year, cancelling the certificate that was taken at this stage.

At a press conference on Tuesday, Shawki said the ministry had decreased the curriculum for students, amending its contents to cope with modernity. “The current curriculum of grade four until grade nine will be gradually reduced,” he said.

“The ministry is reviewing curricula and looking to enhance support for the disadvantaged. Specialists in the field highlight the need to give particular attention to gaps in human resources, improving governance and helping teacher morale,” the minister said. “The country’s effort to expand access to education at primary school age has come in many cases… at the expense of quality.”

According to Shawki, the ministry intends to reduce the number of exams for young students. “All concerned officials at the ministry are working according to a certain vision aiming at enabling education for everyone without discrimination by 2020-2030, so that education contributes in the construction and integration of future generations within society,” Shawki said.

The minister stated during the press conference that following instructions from President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi, the ministry will establish a school for extraordinary students in every governorate. “The cost of establishing such schools is very high; accordingly it will take some time. There are already 11 schools of this type in the governorates. The ministry’s mission in the coming years is to continue setting up these schools,” the minister said.

He said these schools were built in coordination with the Tahya Misr Fund. He said the government is also looking to link state-run schools with the Bank of Knowledge, a state-funded project that provides free access to net-based research resources.

Mid-term grades, according to Shawki, will not be calculated among the final grades of the student. “Mid-term exams will be considered experimental. Also, drawing and computer science will not be added to the students’ final grades. They only need to pass their exams,” the minister said.

During the conference, Shawki stated the vision which the ministry is trying to adopt regarding 12th grade, or Thanaweya Amma, and the entire secondary stage of education is difficult to be based upon the current education system. The new system will be applied next year. “The new system will include a new evaluation mechanism for students throughout the three years in the secondary stage. The new evaluation system is divided into two parts. The first is based on student projects done in school during the academic year. The second is based on booklet exams,” said Shawki.

The minister said the name of the Thanaweya Amma certificate will become “Egypt’s certificate”. The final grade of Egypt’s certificate will be determined according to the average of the students’ grades throughout the three years of secondary education.

Egypt’s education sector is the focus of much attention. Its public education system is the largest in terms of student population in the Middle East and North Africa yet its levels of public spending have only seen nominal increases in the last five years.

Head of the General Education Sector Reda Hegazi revealed the government’s current plan includes working to integrate modern technology into the education system, adding that Internet speed and the number of computers have increased at state-run schools.

“The country’s strategic plan includes improving the learning environment through training programmes for professors and teachers, and new, active learning techniques to help students develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills,” said Hegazi.

The findings from the 2015-16 Global Competitiveness Report by the World Economic Forum (WEF) illustrate the impact of Egypt’s education and literacy levels on the country’s economy. Categorised by WEF as a stage two, efficiency-driven economy, it is ranked 116 out of 140 countries compared to 119 out of 144 countries in the 2014-15 report. Although this does not show an improved performance, the report gives a generally positive assessment of the country’s institutions, noting, in particular, the higher levels of physical security, a more efficient judiciary in settling business disputes and improved protection of property rights.

According to UNICEF estimates, less than 10 per cent of schools in Egypt meet the national standards for quality education and 20 per cent of buildings used for educational purposes are not fit for use and lack functional water and sanitation facilities. UNICEF estimates that less than 10 per cent of schools in Egypt meet the national standards for quality education and 20 per cent of buildings used for educational purposes are not fit for use and lack functional water and sanitation facilities.

University professor Ahmed Hamad believes that the education system is trying to build up more specialised academic programmes as well as training courses for entrepreneurship and innovation to ensure a more real-world, effective applicability of curriculum.

Increasing numbers of university applicants could also pave the way for more private institutions to enter the market. “Given the large number of students looking to attend university and the limited capacity of public institutions, there is considerable room for growth for private players,” Hamad said.

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