Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi directed, on Sunday, for all pre-university students to have the option to attend in-person classes, or turn to virtual attendance for the rest of the academic year 202-2021, if their parents choose to do so.
Al-Sisi’s orders came during his meeting with Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly and Minister of Education and Technical Education Tarek Shawky.
Over the last few weeks, Egyptian students and parents have been requesting for the option of in-person school attendance and the conduct of examinations online, due to the ongoing novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and risk of infection.
Egyptian Presidency Spokesperson Bassam Rady stated that the meeting also discussed the Ministry of Education’s plan to hold mid-year examinations, and the resumption of the academic year.
The President directed for the strict commitment to precautionary measures against COVID-19 when resuming schools.
During the meeting, Al-Sisi was briefed on the progress of the national project to develop the educational system in Egypt. He also ordered that the development operation includes the examination system for Egyptian students abroad.
After the meeting, Minister Shawky announced, in a press conference, that first semester exams will be held from 27 February to 9 March for all students in Grade 4 to 12.
The students in Grade 4 to 8 will take only one comprehensive exam combining all educational subjects, he said. The exam will have two or three questions from each subject.
The Education Minister added that students in Grade 10 and 11 will have normal exams for each subject. Meanwhile, the students in Grade 9 and 12 will take examinations after the end of the second semester. Shawky pointed out that the second semester will start on 10 March.
He asserted that school attendance will be optional, and that those parents who wish for their children to attend online classes should submit an official request to the Ministry of Education.
As for the second semester, Shawky explained that students in Grade 4 to 11 will take three comprehensive exams for all subjects in March, April, and May. Those three exams will replace the final exam, and each one of them will evaluate the students based on the amount of learning in each month.
The students in Grade 1 to 3, estimated at about 8 million nationwide, will be exempted from examinations.
He also confirmed that the Ministry of Health will provide coronavirus vaccines to all teachers and administrators working in all educational sectors and those responsible for exam monitoring.
On Saturday, the committee tasked with managing the coronavirus crisis announced extending the mid-year vacation for one more week to 27 February.
The mid-year vacation was initially set for the period between 16 January and 20 February.
Earlier in December, the Egyptian cabinet postponed first-term exams at schools and universities to after the mid-year vacation due to the second wave of COVID-19.