20 per cent of grade 10 and 11 students have problems with their final exams results
With the end of June in sight many schools have yet to release final exam results for grade 10 and 11 pupils which were due at the beginning of the month. And the results that have been released till now show students scoring unprecedented low marks or failing, leading to the Ministry of Education announcing on Monday that it is considering partially re-marking some exams.
The reasons behind the low scores are multiple, say ministry officials, parents and teachers, and run the gamut from students being ill-prepared for the new exams to technical problems in the electronic exam system that resulted in some students who sat the exams being registered as absent.
The decision to re-mark, says deputy to the minister of education Reda Hegazi, will apply solely to paper-based exams which make up 30 per cent of the final results, and not to the tablet-based section of the examinations which accounts for 70 per cent of the final mark. The latter, he said, “are electronically graded and there is no chance for mistakes”.
Hegazi said students who faced technical problems while sitting their e-exams but could not report the problem via the e-application and accordingly failed will now pass. Students who did not attend the exams and whose schools confirmed their absence for one or more subjects though the absence was not recorded on the e-application will be considered absent and can re-sit exams in August. Students mistakenly reported absent in one or more subjects through the e-application should officially report the incident to the ministry’s General Department of Information Systems so their grades can be amended.
“The number of students affected is around 20 per cent of the 1.4 million sitting their finals in grades 10 and 11,” said Hegazi.
“Mostly it is the students’ fault they did not pass the exams. They did not study properly. Students have spent almost three years at home due to Covid-19. They have become lazy and unused to studying,” says Ibrahim Al-Zaim, a teacher who works at a private school and at the Madrasetna educational satellite channel affiliated to the Ministry of Education.
“This year’s questions for both grades were tailored to the average student, were direct and did not depart from the curriculum.”
Al-Zaim said he was having a hard time convincing his own son, a grade 11 student, to regularly attend school.
Heidi Mustafa, a grade 11 student, told Al-Ahram Weekly that her parents had refused to send her to school for fear she might contract Covid-19 and as a consequence she was dependent on private lessons, while grade 10 student Ahmed Moharram said that on many school days, especially during the first term when the coronavirus infections were at a peak, most classrooms were empty of students.
Many tutors who teach students privately, either at home or in centres, lack the necessary , according to Al-Zaim, while teachers in schools often “lack training in the techniques being used in the new education system which depends on comprehension rather than rote memory”. It is a verdict with which Ibrahim Ahmed, headmaster of Al-Haram Secondary School for Boys, concurs.
Secondary school teacher Mohamed Ibrahim complains that while the Ministry of Education’s guidance booklet for teachers in the old system is no longer valid, it has not been replaced by a new guide that applies to the new system. “The ministry must provide us with an outline of the method and form of exams with examples,” he said.
Students who failed in one or more subjects will be allowed to re-sit exams in August, says Hegazi. “While in the past only students who failed a maximum of two subjects were allowed to re-sit exams in summer this year students who failed any number of subjects will be allowed to retake them. There is no need for parents or students to worry since they will have a second chance to pass.”
Students require a minimum of 50 per cent to move up a year.
“We never heard of problems facing students of grade 10 or 11 before. All the fuss used to centre on grade 12 — Thanawiya Amma. Is this the result of the education reform they are always talking about,” asks Hend Mokhtar, mother of a grade 11 student.
“Every year the ministry vows to revamp the educational system and what happens is that we move from bad to worse.”
A version of this article appears in print in the 23 June, 2022 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly.