Back to normal: Egypt's Thanaweya Amma grades see a 'change in culture'

Zeinab El-Gundy , Tuesday 17 Aug 2021

For the first time after three decades, Thanaweya Amma grades do not see a-100-percent grade

Thanaweya Amma

Egypt’s Education Minister Tarek Shawki announced on Tuesday the results of the final exams of the high school certificate, known as “Thanaweya Amma”, as well as the names of its top-top-ranking students whom for the first time since more than three decades did not achieve a GPA of 100 percent.

The past year’s results saw 39 students achieve the full mark of 100 percent. However, this year only 20,190 students went over the bar of 90 percent in the GPA compared to more than 90,000 students last year, Shawki told a press conference in Cairo.

Shawki added that the success rate among Egypt's Thanaweya Amma students in the academic year 2020/21 is 74 percent, less than 81.5 percent in the year 2019/20.

The grades of students this year are significantly lower than those of the previous years, the minister said, which also lowers the minimum GPA requirement for university admission.

A statement by the Higher Education Ministry announced that the minimum grades required for applying for first stage faculties are 88.41 percent for the science section, 80 percent for the mathematics section and 65.73 percent for the literature section.

Roughly 650,000 high school students took the Thanaweya Amma exams this year. Scores in the competitive nationwide exams determine which university and faculty students can attend, if any. 

Back to Normal grades

Minister Shawki said this year’s exams were “the first real tests to measure the levels of understanding, application and analysis,” following a shift from the culture of memorising for exams.

Renowned education expert Dr. Kamal Moughteeth believes the grades of Thanaweya Amma returned to normal after three decades of “madness”.

“It all started with late education minister Hussein Kamel Bahaa El-Din and his Thanaweya Amma systems that made the grades hit the ceiling without any use for the students,” Moughteeth told Ahram Online.

One of the longest serving education ministers Egypt has ever had, Bahaa El-Din changed the whole system of Thanaweya Amma and its grading several times during his term under Mubarak’s era from 1991 till 2004.

Bahaa El-Din once introduced an “enhancement system” which allowed the students to improve their grades by setting for a second-trial exam in 1994. Starting from there, the GPA went up to 100 percent and 101percent, which led universities and faculties in the country to raise the minimum GPA requirement for their admission.

“Even Einstein himself would not have got 100 percent GPA if he had exams in different subjects, he may get it in physics and math but would not get it in history and language,” Moughteeth said.

The systems of Bahaa El-Din were criticised by university professors for a long time as those schemes depended on memorisation and do not reflect true learning by the students.

“Those normal numbers in GPA which we have this year are the students’ capabilities of understanding and not their abilities of memorisation if we think about it, those grades in the past were unbelievable and ridiculous,” the veteran expert added.  

It is worth mentioning that this is the second year students have examined during the coronavirus pandemic.

Professor Hassan Shehata of teaching methodology in Ain Shams University and an education expert believes that this noticeable decline in the GPA reflects the real potential of the students and not that fake superiority of the “100 percent GPA culture.”

“This year we witness the end of that fake 100 percent GPA era, we have students who can think and not memorize the textbooks and the questions of the special tutors’ lessons that created that era,” He told Ahram Portal.

Shehata believes that the 2020/21 results showed the real level of understanding of the students.

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