Egyptian high school students say system is 'unfair', stage protests

Ahram Online, Tuesday 1 Jul 2014

Students protested in three cities on Tuesday to call for reforms in the country's educational system

Students protesting in front of the ministry of Education on Tuesday 1 July, 2014 (Photo: courtesy of Revolution of Thanaweya Amma Facebook page)

Students protesting against Egypt's "unfair" education system clashed with security forces in Cairo on Tuesday, according to Al-Ahram's Arabic news website.

The students, all from the Thanaweya Amma, or general secondary level, organised a sit-in in front of the education ministry in Cairo.

Security forces intensified their presence ahead of the protest and then clashed with the students when they tried to break into the ministry, reported Al-Ahram.

After the dispersal, ministry officials met with some of the students and insisted they would look into their demands and investigate the exam leaks that marred the end of the academic year and testing period, said Al-Ahram.

Among the officials were head of the exams committee, Mohamed Saad, and also Education Minister Mahmoud Abou El-Nasr.   

In addition to the leaks, the students also posted three core demands on a Facebook page titled "We Have a Right".

The first demand is doing away with the current system of determining a student's university faculty according to grade point average (GPA). For example, medical and engineering schools are usually the top-ranking faculties, meaning that only students with a high enough GPA can enrol.

The students argue that the system is unfair, especially after the answers to so many of the final exams were leaked online.

They say that university enrolment should also be determined by a student-capability test.

The second demand is developing Egypt's educational system so that it can compete with developed countries.

Finally, the students called for respecting the dignity of Egyptian students and teachers.

Meanwhile, the student group organised a protest in the Mediterranean city of Alexandria, where tens gathered in front of the city's public library.

A student march also took place in the city of Suez, where students called for the same demands as those in Cairo and Alexandria.

Thanaweya Amma – essentially the last part of high school before university – used to last two years but in 2013 was reduced to just one year, reviving a system adopted in the past.

Grades from this period determine university prospects and thus are a source of panic for pupils and family alike, as the received qualification is regarded as a key for students' future.

Around 450,000 students take the final exam nationwide under the new one-year system, while approximately 43,000 others are being tested under the now-absolved two-year system.


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