The grades of Thanaweya Amma, or last year in high school, were announced earlier this week, causing many Egyptian hearts to miss a beat. Thanaweya Amma is a series of standardised tests that lead to the General Secondary Education Certificate and serve as the entrance examination for universities. The tests also often make older generations recall their own experience in the decisive exams.
While until a couple of years ago it was common for students to receive a 99.9 per cent grade, this is no longer the case. This year, the range between 70 per cent and 80 per cent was the average among students who finished sitting for their exams two weeks ago. “None of the Thanaweya Amma students with its different branches gained the full mark in any subject,” Minister of Education Tarek Shawki said. Shawki is spearheading the reform of the education system, including the Thanaweya Amma exams, aiming to transform education from depending on memorisation to one focused on learning for life while increasing the use of technology.
While at first students and parents were left puzzled and concerned by the lower than average grades, many were pleasantly surprised that they could still access the faculties of their choice. The first phase of the tansik, the public university enrollment system, accepted grades of 89 per cent, 83 per cent and 63.5 per cent in the scientific, engineering, and literature branches respectively.
It is expected that the faculties of medicine will accept students who received a minimum of 92.5 or 92 per cent, said former minister of higher education Khaled Hussein who is currently head of the medical sector at the Supreme Council of Universities (SCU). These were the average grades 30 years ago, he noted. There will be no more grades that surpass the full mark as was the case a few years ago, Hussein said, adding that the refurbishing of the educational process was essential because the grades were abnormal. “Now we are back to normal.”
Throughout the past few years, the Ministry of Education has introduced a number of amendments to the Thanaweya Amma exams, substituting the decades-long system of memorising academic materials for tests with a system based on their comprehension. This system has significantly lowered the overall grades and ended the phenomenon of students gaining full marks in their finals, Hussein said.
Students will also not have difficulty entering a university because there is a larger number of universities available, be they public, private, international, or non-profit, all over the country, Shawki said. Some 650,000 students sat for the Thanaweya Amma exam this year. According to Hussein, 12 new non-profit universities and 18 private universities began offering their services this year.
Hussein believes that parents and students should be content with the Thanaweya Amma results. “Although the grades are [low], the [top] universities acceptance grades will decrease,” explained Hussein.
The Ministry of Education is allowing students to petition their grades online during a 10- day period starting 8 August. According to Mahmoud Hassouna, spokesman for the Ministry of Education and Technical Education, petitions are to be submitted online. Students must pay LE300 for each subject and specify the subject(s) to be reviewed. “In case the student’s grade(s) were amended the fee will be refunded and the grades will be re-calculated,” said Hassouna, adding that the new grades would be authenticated by the minister before informing the student.