Egypt's education minister vows to solve problems with new school tablets following system failure

Marina Barsoum , Monday 25 Mar 2019

A file photo of Egypt's minister of education Tarek Shawky ( Photo : Ahram Arabic website)

Around 600,000 first-year high school students in Egypt (grade 10) were not able to take experimental tests due to a failure in the digital system of the new examination platform.

The exams were cancelled for the second day in a row on Monday following a system failure that prevented the tests from being downloaded on the newly introduced examination tablets.

Education minister says challenges expected

Minister of Education Tarek Shawky said on his personal Facebook page that "we expected challenges in the early days and we will overcome them before the end of the week."

"Let us remember that the goal of the experimental tests was to introduce students to new types of questions ahead of the end-of-year exams," and not to introduce them to the new technology, the minister said.

"We use the technology for two main purposes; provide access to the additional digital content prepared by the Egyptian Knowledge Bank to enrich understanding of the materials, as well as prevent fraud and manual correction errors," the minister explained.

What's next? 

The minister stressed that the end-of year tests will not be administered using tablets unless their efficiency is ensured.

"We will notice a great improvement every day, we are working on fine-tuning the electronic system to avoid any problem," Shawky said, explaining that the way to fine-tune the new system is by testing it before the end-of-year exams.

Education reform

Egypt’s new education system is based on digital learning and eliminating tests based on memorising, officials have said.

Students will be trained to use their tablets to log onto educational websites, including the Bank of Knowledge, York Press and Encyclopaedia Britannica.

Tests will be sent to students’ tablets and will be marked electronically.

Students will be required to complete 12 exams in each subject during their three secondary school years. The highest six grades will be used to calculate a student’s final grade.

In April, Egypt received a $500 million loan from the World Bank earmarked for teacher training and upgrading the education system.

The education reform programme is part of Egypt’s ‘2030 Vision’ development strategy, which stresses that education reform is vital for achieving social transformation in the country.

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