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Tuesday, 22 September 2020

Last Night’s Talk Shows on 22 September 2020

It was Education Minister Tarek Shawki’s turn to sit down for a marathon interview last night, during which he railed against people criticizing the ministry’s response to the SATs crisis and told parents to be patient while the ministry works out an agreement with private sector providers over the coming school year’s tuition fees. Here are the key takeaways from the two-hour exchange with 90 Minutes’ Osama Kamal (watch, runtime: 1:44:29):

  • Parents are going to have to wait at least three months before the dispute with private sector schools over tuition fees is resolved, Shawki said. Parents have been busy lobbying the government to defer installments on the coming year’s fees after private sector providers demanded that they begin paying early. Shawki said that parents are going to have to pay the fees as usual while the ministry works on the problem.
  • There’s no “Egyptianized” SAT coming, despite the ministry’s reservations about how the American education system operates in Egypt, Shawki said. Parents have raised fears that the ministry will introduce an Egyptianized test to replace the SATs exam, which caused chaos earlier this year when the questions were leaked ahead of the test. Shawki said that the ministry replaced the SAT with the internationally-recognized ACT exam, which is approved by an American institution as well as the Supreme Council of Universities.
  • Shawki dismissed talk about postponing studies or Egyptianizing foreign diplomas as nonsense and has no basis in truth, stressing that most international schools receive support from their home countries and are not controlled by the ministry.

Health expert gives mixed signals on covid: Al Hayah Al Youm’s Lobna Assal interviewed Ashraf Hatem, member of the Supreme Committee for Viruses, on how covid-19 will develop in the months ahead. Hatem voiced fears over what could happen with flu season approaching, and raised the prospect that a second wave could result in covid-19 and ordinary flu cases becoming confused in the coming months. In contrast, Hatem appeared optimistic that the country could soon bring the mortality rate down to zero, but admitted that it could be a while before the virus is fully eradicated from the country (watch, runtime: 44:59).

Flood warnings in El Beheira: El Hosary phoned Irrigation Ministry spokesperson Mohammad El Sibai, who said that the ministry had warned some of the residents in El Beheira to evacuate their homes in case of flooding (watch, runtime: 7:52), and talked to El Beheira Governor Hisham Amna who said that the governorate warned farmers that their crops are at risk of being flooded (watch, runtime: 4:59). Ala Mas’ouleety’s Ahmed Moussa also covered the story (watch, runtime: 6:04).

Development in Upper Egypt got some airtime: El Hosary phoned Local Development Ministry spokesperson Khaled Qassem, who discussed the World Bank’s involvement with the USD 1 bn Upper Egypt development program. He listed a number of current achievements, including a EGP 1.2 bn potable water project in Sohag, and a EGP 1.5 bn wastewater project in Qena (watch, runtime: 11:06). Meanwhile, Assal phoned Qena Governor Ashraf El Daoudi, who said that the government has begun to implement a plan that will see wastewater infrastructure extended to every urban area and 50% of villages in Upper Egypt (watch, runtime: 5:52).

Slum Development Fund head talks rehousing: El Hosary phoned Khaled Seddik, the head of the Slum Development Fund, who said that 175k families had been moved from slums to the new settlements such as Al Asmarat and Bashayer El Khair, , and that the government is aiming to increase this to 240k by the end of the year (watch, runtime: 10:47).

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