Education Minister Tarek Shawki (photo: Al-Ahram)
The American Chamber of Commerce hosted a webinar titled “Egypt’s Education Strategy Beyond the Crisis” on 22 September with Tarek Shawki, minster of education and technical education.
Shawki discussed the implementation of “Education 2.0” which focuses on digitising education in Egypt by providing servers, screens and tablets to 25,000 public schools, changing the assessment model for high school and other levels of education in the future, and uploading the curricula from KG through to Grade 12 to a digital library online that is freely accessible.
Minister Shawki also talked about measures taken to adapt to the pandemic, such as having schools moving their classrooms to the online platform Edmodo and assigning research projects to students under Grade 12. Shawki asserted that IT literacy has increased in Egypt as a result. He said he is also satisfied with how the ministry handled assessments in the previous year, claiming that students across all school years, with the exception of Grade 12, were assessed online and given detailed results about their performance in every subject. “No child was left behind in the pandemic,” said Shawki.
Grade 12, as per usual, required a proctored environment to ensure that no student cheated their way into higher education. Shawki,also announced that Grade 12 exams will soon be taken online, with the possibility of having different versions of the same test that are equally fair but limit the chances of students cheating mid-exam.
“With the exam on the cloud, we can avoid the exam being leaked ahead of time as has been the case in previous years,” he said. The ministry will also allow students to take their Grade 12 exams a second time if they did not get the grades they wanted the first time around, giving students a second chance to enter their desired universities.
Egypt's post-Covid-19 education strategy centres on the continuation of digitising education. As of now, Grades 10 through 12 are fully connected technologically.
The ministry plans to do the same for Grades 4 through 9 next. Physical books are also a thing of the past, with high school textbooks becoming accessible on tablets. With this sudden reliance on tablets for education, Shawki said that buying a tablet for every student would be too costly for the state. However, the government is launching an initiative to subsidise the purchase of tablets, to aid parents in acquiring them for their children.
In terms of attendance, Shawki stated that middle and high school students will be attending school two days a week, and elementary school students will be attending four days a week. However, they will be spread out across the classrooms of the entire school, to comply with social distancing standards. School time will be dedicated to office hours and extra-curricular activities, such as sports and music. Lectures or classes are being televised with set schedules so that students may learn from the safety of their homes.
Shawki highlighted the plethora of problems that remain in the education system, from schools with broken chairs and boards, to incompetent staff and teachers, to parents that prioritise grades over actual learning; indicating that there is still work to be done.