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An exam-free year
Published in Ahram Online on 31 - 03 - 2020

Final exams for primary and preparatory students have been cancelled in the face of the COVID-19 outbreak and the assessment of students will be based on a project or a research paper in each subject, said Minister of Education Tarek Shawki.
Students in grade nine, the last preparatory year, will be required to submit a research paper in each subject in order to guarantee their move to secondary education.
“Students are to limit their research to the curriculum they studied up to 15 March. Their final grade will be the average of grades in the first semester and second semester, and will determine whether they move to technical or general secondary education,” said Shawki.
“Identical researches and plagiarised ones will be excluded from evaluation and students will fail the subject,” he warned.
A framework of the required research and its grading will be announced in April and students will be assigned the mandatory researches after the announcement.
Students in grades 10 and 11 will take exams electronically from their homes on 5 April, though the testing is being run as an experiment.
“The exams are not graded. Students will be divided into groups to join the examination platform throughout the day. Each student will have his own SIM card in order to be able to sit for the exam,” said Shawki.
“My son has already become adept at using the tablet which was provided in February,” says Heba Samir, the mother of a grade 10 student. “Our problem, in this period of social distancing, was collecting the SIM card for the exam from Telecom Egypt outlets which are crowded. Then the school informed us that we could collect the SIM from any public school in the same education directorate and the problem was solved.”
According to Reda Hegazi, deputy to the minister of education, the Ministry of Telecommunication is facilitating the process of distributing SIM cards.
“The Telecommunication Ministry is allocating employees to government schools to distribute SIM cards to students so they can sit the experimental exam in April,” said Hegazi.
Only grade 12 students will their exams as scheduled. Hegazi says the number of classrooms and schools where grade exams are being held has been increased so there are less students per exam station.
The American Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) for the American Diploma certificate has been cancelled owing to the global pandemic. Students from grade one until 12 are instead required to submit a project for each subject.
Grade 12 students who failed the SAT exam before the decision to cancel tests for this year will be evaluated on the basis of the GPA of their total grade required for admission to the university, says Hegazi. An admission exam will to be held by the Ministry of Higher Education in qualifying subjects based on each student's major.
Students who passed the SAT exam can choose between joining university according to the criteria of last year (GPA represents 40 per cent of the grade and SAT 60 per cent), or letting GPA represent 100 per cent of their total grade.
Students enrolled in the International General Certificate of Secondary Education (IGSCE) from grade one until nine must submit a project in order to move into the following year. “Regarding grades 10, 11, and 12 the ministry is still contacting the British Council to determine the method of evaluation as grades from these years qualify the students for university admission,” said Hegazi.
Omar Abdel-Hamid, 19, a SAT student in grade 11 who is scheduled to join university next year believes the decision to annul SAT has rescued the future of many students.
“We know now we have to submit a project for each subject. The school administration has said it will inform us about the details of the project and when and how we should submit it in the next few days,” said Abdel-Hamid.
Malak Hesham is a grade 12 IGCSE student who this year is sitting Advanced Level exams in two subjects and wants to join the American University in Cairo. “I don't know what to do. I am still studying via private lessons, but I don't know what will happen and how we are going to be evaluated.”
*A version of this article appears in print in the 2 April, 2020 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly

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