High school students protested outside the Education Ministry on Sunday against a new policy allocating 10 percent of their grades to attendance and behavior, the privately owned Al-Masry Al-Youm newspaper reported.
Education Minister Al-Helaly Al-Sherbiny announced a decision on October 8 to allocate seven percent of thanaweya amma school grades to attendance and three percent to behavior, according to the privately owned Al-Tahrir news outlet.
Students told Al-Masry Al-Youm that the new policies would make already existing differences between public and private school students even more extreme.
“The decision threatens the basis for equal opportunities between students, especially since the rule does not apply to international school students or homeschooled students,” one pupil commented.
Students carried banners that read, “No to the 10 percent,” and, “A failed decision.” They also chanted, “The education minister will not stay in education,” and “We will not leave our rights, understand.”
Al-Masry Al-Youm reported that Education ministry workers were forced to enter the premises through a side entrance, as security forces blocked the main entrance to prevent students from getting inside.
The students threatened to strike and not attend classes if the Education Ministry does not address their demands.
On Saturday, the head of the Union for Egyptian Students, Sayed Mohamed Naguib, threatened to resign over the new grading policy. Naguib released a statement on Saturday stating that the decision marginalizes the role of the student union, which would be unable to guarantee students their basic right to a good education.
He criticized the Education Minister for announcing the decision without consulting with the union or student body. He asserted that the new policy would pave the way for increased bribery, nepotism and corruption.
But, after meeting with Naguib on Sunday, Sherbiny refused to change or modify the new stipulations, Al-Masry Al-Youm reported.
This is just one of a number of changes made by the Education Ministry for the new school year, which began in September.
On Friday, new legislation was released criminalizing the leaking of exam papers in universities, with prison sentences of up to a year and fines ranging from LE20,000 to LE50,000. Students told Mada Masr that this would effectively turn universities into prisons, given how prevalent cheating is in exams.
There has also been widespread criticism from parents and students over other broken promises by the Education Ministry, including the delayed opening of additional schools and uncompleted repairs to dilapidated buildings. Several parent-led protests and sit-ins have been reported nationwide in the last few weeks since the semester began.