The cabinet approved amendments to Article 28 of Education Law 139/1981on regulations of ThanaweyaAmmaexams.
The amendments coincide with Egypt’s plan for sustainable development, part of Egypt’s Vision 2030 which focuses on improving the quality of life of the Egyptian citizen. They are meant to improve the quality of education, especially the ThanaweyaAmmaor 12th grade high school stage, to meet international standards.
According to the amended law, which is awaiting approval fromparliament, Thanaweya Amma students will sit for their finals in June 2021. The exams, to be virtualandtaken at ministry-supervised locations,willbe taken byregular students, home-schooled and technical school students. The situation is not yet clear for students who are repeating the year and those who are hospitalised or imprisoned. The ministry is still studying their status and will announce its final decision within a few months.
RedaHegazi, deputy to the minister of education and technical education, said every student will be provided with his or her own tablet and that ministry-supervised locations will be electronically supervised. The locations will be technically equipped to facilitate the exam process for students. “Thanaweya Amma exams will be prepared by professors from the National Centre for Exams and Educational Evaluation who will prepare four different exams for each subject, all of equal difficulty in order to avoid cheating,” said Hegazi.
The exams which will be electronically graded, according to Hegazi, will be multiple choice and will not contain writing sections. Students will have an opportunity to retake two tests other than the original, in July and August, with the main exam being administered in June. Students will benefit from the test with the higher scores and the low score exams will be discarded.
The new education system is based on digital learning and removes curricula and test methods that depend mainly on memorising. The new system aims at expanding the use of foreign languages and technology and developing a Grade Point Average(GPA) system not fully weighted to final exams.
According to the new draft, the grades of Thanaweya Amma students will be calculated according to the accumulative system of years 10, 11 and 12 (the secondary stage). Secondary students will sit for 12 exams in each subject over the three years of the secondary stage. The best six grades out of the 12 exams are to be chosen, according to which final grades will be calculated.
“The ministry’s new education system aims at providing Thanaweya Amma students with a better quality of education and to re-sit for their finals several times in case they want to improve their score so they can realise their dream by joining the university they want,” Ministry of Education Spokesman Mahmoud Hassouna said.
Hassouna said the new draft stipulates that students will not pay examination fees for their first sitting, however, they will pay not more than LE5,000 for further sittings. The number of times students will be allowed to take the exams is yet to be determined, as too the subjects for which there can be redoes.
Rabab Al-Moqadem, a mother of a grade 10 student, believes there is nothing new in the new education draft law. “I cannot judge the new system before trying it, though I hope it won’t be applied to my daughter,” Al-Moqadem said.
Gihane Said, an accountant and a mother of grade nine twins, believes the new system will be better for her children. “If the new system is to be passed by parliament soon, it could be applied to my twins. It’s a blessing that they cantake their Thanaweya Amma exams several times and the school takes the best score. This will help our children be confident and will remove exam tension, thus enabling them to get higher scores,” Saidsaid.
The new education draft, according to Hassouna, will be submitted to parliament soon. “It is expected to be applied to students who are currently in grade nine,” he said.
Mohamed Ibrahim, a father of three, said the best thing in the new draft is the annulment of the Thanaweya Amma exam fees. “Exam fees are not less than LE1,500 which is quite a sum for many,” Ibrahim said.
Mohsen Ammar, a real estate broker, raised a different point: the new draft is imposing very high fees (LE5,000) on students who want to re-sit for their exams. “This is unfair especially for middle-class parents who can barely afford the basic needs of their families. Middle-class students are usually not very clever as their parents cannot afford the high cost of private lessons and it is very possible they would want to re-sit for an exam or two to improve their score. How would parents be able to afford such an amount?”
*A version of this article appears in print in the 17 December, 2020 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly.