The pass rate for grade 10 students this year, 91.4 per cent, shows that Egyptian students fare well when tested by the internationally recognised methods, Minister of Education and Technical Education Tarek Shawki said during a press conference.
Yet despite the overall success rate “there were subjects where the pass rate was just three out of 20.”
Students can log to the website https://g10.emis.gov.eg to know whether they passed or failed, said Shawki, and in the next few days each will receive a report card listing grades in individual subject as well as detailed assessments of the student’s weaknesses and strengths.
“Students can work on improving their weak points by surfing the Egyptian Knowledge Bank which includes a number of digital sources that explain the curriculum,” said Shawki.
The ministry has already equipped 2,530 schools — covering a total of 11,336 classrooms — with servers and internal networks and provided 467,912 students with tablets.
Yet grade 10 teacher Ibrahim Hassan argues the new system has achieved just 20 per cent of its goals in its first year of implementation. Next year he expects the figure to double to 40 per cent.
Education expert Kamal Moghith believes that — low grades not withstanding — the new system is forcing students to think rather than memorise answers.
“The new system is a step towards rectifying a process based on rote learning. It encourages students to think for themselves and has been praised by international educational institutions such as Pearson.”
Moghith asks parents and students to be patient and give the new system a chance.
The tablets, networks and software on which the system depends are tools to improve the education process rather than an end in itself. One by-product of the implementation of electronic exams is that it has ended the phenomenon of cheating which had grown exponentially in recent years.
This year grade 10 students were assessed for the first time by computer-based open-book exams. Students receive training in using tablets to log on to educational websites.
Tests are sent to students’ tablets to be answered and are then corrected anonymously. Under the new system students are required to complete 12 exams in each subject during their three secondary school years. The highest six grades are then used to calculate students’ final grades.
Full implementation, however, will wait another year. For the time being Thanaweya Amma grades will be calculated as an average of year 11 and 12 results.
Shawki also addressed the ministry’s plans to improve the conditions of teachers.
“Salaries and bonuses have increased,” he said, “and we are investing across the board. Improving teacher’s status is a top priority, and a number of training courses have been instigated to improve teachers’ skills.”
*A version of this article appears in print in the 27 June, 2019 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly under the headline: Mixed interpretations