The Minister of Education Tarek Shawky said that the government aims to partner with the private sector to provide 40% of the total target classrooms through to 2022.
Daily News Egypt sat down for an interview with Shawky, whereby he said that the ministry has put a plan to establish 200,000 classrooms between 2018-2022, with plans to finance 120,000 of them from the state budget, while the private sector will establish 80,000. The transcript for which is below, lightly edited for clarity:
The government has launched a new education system, which is expected to be implemented during the academic year starting this month. Shawky said that the new system requires the development of educational facilities. The General Authority for Educational Buildings has built new classrooms and a number of new schools, along with developing some of the current schools.
He acknowledged the challenges facing the new development plans, such as providing lands for new schools in high density and remote areas in addition to funding them.
Meanwhile, Shawky explained that the ministry re-exploited the spaces in schools, to provide places to create new classrooms.
He said that the total projects for the construction of school buildings implemented since July 2017 amounted to 1,388 projects with a total of 20,500 classrooms, which cost EGP 7bn, including the establishment of 5,629 new classrooms, expanding 6,880 existing schools, and renovating 8,021 classrooms.
A specialised committee will be formed with the participation of professors from the faculties of engineering and officials of the Ministry of Education to develop the standards and requirements of building schools to conform to the new education system, he explained.
Furthermore, Shawky also referred to the ongoing modernisation of the form and standards of schools and the establishment of new schools, such as the Egyptian-Japanese schools and distinguished schools.
Shawky said that the new education system will solve the problems of the current system, describing it as, “a real revolution in the education system.” The new system is working to identify the skills that characterise students at different age levels without relying solely on the achievement of grades, according to the minister.
The development of the educational process does not require an increase in the number of teachers, but needs to be redistributed. He noted that directives are given to all districts, educational departments, and schools to distribute teachers, in order to fill the deficit in various disciplines, before the start of the new school year, he elaborated.
The new system starts from the kindergarten stage and includes new curricula and innovative teaching methods. It will be applied to kindergarten and primary school students in September.
Shawky revealed that there are no exams from the first to third primary level, but students will be evaluated through simple applications that measure their scientific levels, hence the strengths and weaknesses of each student are assessed.
As for the fourth grade to sixth, there will be a different type of tests that match the scientific and educational development of the students’ mentality, yet; they will not control passing and failing, as they will be more descriptive in the sense that they will describe the academic achievement of each student.
He added that the study will be in Arabic in the new system from the kindergarten stage until the end of the whole primary stage. This will be applied in regular government schools, experimental schools, and national schools.
Shawky explained that the new system does not mean that the experimental schools are closed, but rather that all schools will study in Arabic during the primary stage, while English will be taught as a main curriculum.
The Ministry of Education has allowed the implementation of the new system to be postponed in the experimental schools to from September 2018 to September 2019 to give parents a chance to choose if they will enrol children in the experimental schools.
As for the new secondary school system, the minister said that this system will be implemented from September this year on the first secondary school year students and the third elementary school students now. Each student will receive a free tablet that includes the curriculum, through which the exams will be taken. Books will also be distributed in the first year, whereby students do not move suddenly from paper to e-books.
He pointed to the ministry’s interest in the training of teachers, while working to develop the performance of the professional academy for teachers, added that training programmes were set up in early August to train in the new education system, which will continue until November, while teachers will be assessed in December.
Training departments affiliated with the ministry or educational directorates and bodies have been placed under the supervision of the office of the deputy minister for teacher affairs, in a way to unify the goals and plans.
He expected that the departments of the ministry will witness a great development in the level of performance before the end of this year, through government plans; to activate e-government and eliminate bureaucracy, in the interest of teachers and parents and for the benefit of the system as a whole and to eliminate significantly the elements of administrative and financial corruption.
The minister pointed to the launch of an electronic link on the official website of the ministry to receive complaints and inquiries of teachers under the supervision of the deputy minister for teachers affairs; to facilitate communication, in addition to weekly meetings.
Shawky said that the ministry is interested in developing the skills of students of technical education and conducting a test to measure the level of students in the skills of Arabic and English languages, mathematics and computer, before the implementation of the skills development programme, as well as a test at the end of the semester, which will not be included in the final grading.
He added that the development of skills curriculum content will be in coordination with the development of materials managers and supervisors through technical guidance to provide a content for what will be taught every week to develop skills in the first semester of the 2018/2019 school year in the technical schools of three years.