Why is Egypt amending the fourth grade curriculum?

Jehad El-Sayed , Thursday 25 Aug 2022

Egypt’s Ministry of Education has declared that it will modify the fourth-grade curriculum for the 2022/2023 school year, with the details to be announced before the start of the school year in October.

School students
File photo: Students attend class on the first day of their new school year at a government school in Giza, south of Cairo, September 22, 2013 (Photo: Reuters)


The modifications to the curriculum aim to meet the timeframe the ministry has set for the start of the school year without compromising the desired education outcomes, the ministry said on Tuesday.

The fourth-grade curriculum, which was first introduced in its new format last year, has caused uproar among parents, and social media platforms have been rife with posts complaining that 10-year-old children were suffering because of the “heavy-weight curriculum.”

The ministry explained that the amendments are being made after a re-evaluation of the implementation of last year’s curriculum and after listening to the opinions of teachers, parliament’s education committee, and professors at faculties of education.

The ministry made the announcement days after the appointment of the new Education Minister Reda Hegazy. The previous education minister, Tarek Shawky, had strongly defended the curriculum against criticism by parents at the time.

“The [new] fourth-grade curriculum is the best that the ministry has produced in its history,” Shawky said in December 2021 in a stormy parliament session. At the time, MPs insisted the curriculum was difficult for students to study and for teachers to teach, accusing Shawky of failing to solve the chronic problems in schools.

Parents have complained that the curriculum is too long to be studied in one year.

“Science and social studies are too heavy for such a limited time,” Nermin Gharib, whose son was in fourth grade last year, told Ahram Online.

Gharib said that although the curriculum is “good,” is needs to be divided over two years. “It’s too much for just one year.”

“Information technology and technical skills are two subjects that were added last year in the fourth grade, and I don’t know the purpose of these subjects for these young students,” another mother, Maha Aamer, said.

Aamer said schools were suspended for two years because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and that these “heavy subjects” are “not suitable” after two years of suspension.

Egypt’s 2021/2022 academic year started in October 2021 with in-person classes after a year-and-a-half of virtual education due to the pandemic.

Moreover, Aamer criticised the fourth grade English curriculum for not being “suitable or clear” for a 10-year-old pupil.

However, Medhat Mossaad, an education expert and former undersecretary of the Ministry of Education, told Ahram Online that parents are not experts who are qualified to determine if a curriculum is suitable.

Mossaad said that compared to the fourth-grade curricula in other countries, such as the UAE, the Egyptian curriculum is simple.

“I don’t expect that the content of the curricula will be [heavily] amended,” Mossaad said, adding that the curriculum “is perfect, and not heavy like parents think.”

Mossaad believes the amendments will be to teaching methods and in developing teachers’ skills so they are more qualified to teach these new curricula.

Nevertheless, Selah El-Telmeez – which publishes study guides – recently announced on its official Facebook page that “this year, the Ministry of Education eased the mathematics curriculum for the fourth grade, deleting 12 lessons and marking them in the textbook as optional.”

“We have also marked the deleted lessons in our books as ‘for information only’,” Selah El-Telmeez added, raising speculation on social media that the amendments have already been completed and that study guides have been edited and printed accordingly.

On 18 August, Minister Hegazy announced that the 2022/23 school year would start on 1 October. Shawky had made an announcement a month earlier saying the start of the school year would be on 24 September.

The first term of the academic year for all public, private, language, and experimental schools, as well as Al-Azhar educational system school and technical education school, will start on 1 October, the minister said in August’s statement.

However, international schools that follow foreign education systems like the IGCSE, American diploma, and French education system will start the academic year on 18 September 2022.

Short link: