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Wednesday, 9 September 2020

Education Ministry releases guidelines for reopening schools on 17 October

Education Ministry’s guidelines out: blended learning for K-9; high school fully online; revamp of Thanaweya Amma: The Education Ministry has finally released guidelines for reopening public and national private schools on 17 October giving administrators leeway on what the upcoming hybrid academic year will look like. Schools across the country will be permitted the option to follow either a staggered weekly rotation schedule or a single shortened week, announced Education Minister Tarek Shawki at a televised press conference yesterday (watch, runtime 42:35). While every school will determine its precise schedule based on its own circumstances, the Education Ministry has issued a set of recommendations.

What are the recommendations? That K-3 students go to school in person at least three days a week, while grades 4-6 should have two days of in-person learning. Middle schoolers will be divided into three separate groups based on grade level and will attend in person classes twice a week on alternate schedules, while high schoolers will be fully online.

School administrators are currently tasked with drafting up their own schedules in the coming weeks with Ministry recommendations in mind. Administrators may elect to bring in students more frequently as long as they are capable of maintaining the ministry’s 1.5m social distancing rule in classrooms at all times. Instruction on the ministry’s core curriculum will be made available through several state-owned television channels, YouTube, and a number of the ministry’s education platforms at all grade levels.

A revamp of Thanaweya Amma: The standardized Thanaweya Amma exam will be amended and electronically administered this year with a shift away from a test focused on memorization to one that places more emphasis on comprehension. There will be multiple versions of the exam as opposed to a single standardized testing sheet for everyone in the country, akin to the SATs, said Shawki. The test will be taken on tablets provided by the ministry in examination facilities, while those without access to a tablet will be permitted to complete the test on paper and electronically graded, he added.

Students will also be getting the chance to retake the full exam or certain subjects in a follow-up test scheduled for August if they seek to improve their scores. Only the highest scores students earn on individual subjects will be considered in college admissions. Shawki also floated the idea of allowing students to retake the test a third time.

We’ll be getting more details on technical and STEM education, the status of international private schools and a host of other hot button issues related to education at a forthcoming press conference.

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