Egypt’s Minister of Education Tarek Shawki has retracted statements made on Wednesday on "abandoning" the bifurcated education system traditionally used in the general secondary education track Thanaweya Amma, saying no decision on the matter has been taken yet.
Shawki had said yesterday that the bifurcated system, which allows students to choose between three curricular pathways (literature, science, or science/mathematics) would be abandoned for a new system to be implemented next year, essentially removing the science/mathematics pathway.
According to statements on his Facebook page, Shawki said that the issue of the bifurcated education system is still being examined by the Supreme Council for Pre-University Education and the Supreme Council of Universities, adding that a decision has not yet been taken.
Shawki stressed that the electronic exams for students who are in the first and second grade of Thanaweya Amma are not a "rehearsal" for the university entrance exams taken in the third and final year of secondary school.
He added that students will be required to take the electronic exams at schools under the monitoring of an electronic committee.
He also explained that the committees monitoring the exams will be secured by multiple security institutions (under the auspices of the Ministry of Interior), employing smart technical solutions to overcome any challenges and three levels of safety, costing nearly EGP 1 billion, to ensure that the exam reaches every student in Egypt (approx. 650,000 students).
“There will be experimental secondary exams, which will be held in the months of April and June,” he said, noting that the “real rehearsals” will allow the ministry to evaluate technical solutions and introduce students to the electronic form of the exams.
Shawki explained that the end of first and second year exams, based on a pass/fail grading system, are not competitive and that those who cheat will suffer in university entrance exams.
“Whoever deceives and cheats on his/her exams is the only loser,” and they will be missing the opportunity to learn and train for the end of third-year exam.
“The vast majority of students who depend on themselves are the winners in all respects because they have realised the purpose of the exam,” said Shawki, explaining how the exams, taken and evaluated electronically, are designed to circumvent human intervention, guaranteeing equal opportunities and absolute transparency.
"The concept of equal opportunity does not mean that the exams must be standardised... the exams will be different but have the same level of difficulty," he pointed out.
Thanaweya Amma examinations will not begin before the month of July, and there will be no deletions from the curricula, said Shawki.
The exams will be based on multiple-choice questions and students will know their results as soon as they conclude the exam, he noted.
The ministry will issue four versions of the exam at the same difficulty level, with students allowed to retake tests in any subject in a second round without any deductions in grades, which revives the improvement exam system that was in place until the 1990s.
In the past few years, Thanaweya Amma exams have been repeatedly leaked and shared on Facebook and WhatsApp.
The minister assured that the new electronic system would reward the “diligent student,” putting an end to exam leaks and cheating.