Egypt's Minister of Education Tarek Shawki has certified the 2017/18 Thanaweya Amma exam results, which show a 74.3 percent pass rate nationwide this year, up from 72.4 percent last year, the education ministry said.
In a press conference, the head of the general education sector in the ministry, Reda Hegazi, said around 556,284 students sat for the examinations last month, which are the last stage in the Egyptian high school education system.
Some 314,079 students passed the exams, with 50 students nationwide ranked first, including two female twin sisters.
According to the ministry’s spokesman, Ahmed Khairy, Shawki called all 50 top ranked students who had achieved top grades to congratulate them on their scores and the successful completion of their secondary education.
The press conference also highlighted the ministry’s efforts in combating internet leaks of examination questions.
The ministry has introduced the booklet exam system, which reduced the risk of leaks and helped identify students who allegedly tried to leak the exams online.
Unlike last year, there were not many online leaks of exam questions.
Hegazi said that the ministry’s "electronic cheating" committee monitored all "cheating pages" on social media in an effort to eliminate the phenomenon.
Around 1,411 cases of cheating nationwide were monitored, down from 3,200 last year.
Hegazi added that Shawki agreed that 58 students be referred to the general prosecution over publishing sections of the examinations on social media, barring them from sitting for the exams for two years, based upon a law passed last year by parliament.
Last year, Egypt toughened the penalties for academic cheating and other exam violations, including publishing exam questions and papers and possessing mobile phones and other wireless devices in examination rooms.
Penalties for contributing to exam leaks include hefty fines of EGP100,000-200,000 and jail terms of between two and seven years.
Students will soon be applying to public universities based on their Thanaweya Amma grades.
This phase usually starts within a week after the official announcement of the results.