The school year for primary and preparatory schools in North Sinai has come to an early end and will not see the administration of final exams, according to the governorate’s education directory. This is the latest hurdle for educators and parents trying to ensure students’ continued education amid a military campaign that has heightened security and restricted movement.
In the statement issued on Sunday night, the North Sinai education directorate officially announced the second semester of the school year will end early, adding that students would be graded on the results of their first semester exams. The directorate’s statement affirmed, however, that exams for both thanaweya amma and technical high school students will be held on schedule this coming June.
The Sunday decision was taken, according to the official statement, “due to the ongoing circumstances the governorate is going through, and the courageous war which the great Egyptian Armed Forces is going through to fight terrorism.”
Students in the final year of their education and those preparing for their preparatory school certificate but who have not taken their first semester exam will have the right to take an exam that will be counted for both semesters and hence the whole academic year, according to the statement.
In addition, students who want to repeat exams are free to do so, on condition they file a request with the directorate before June 3, the directorate added.
This decision is the latest interruption in the educational process in North Sinai since Operation Sinai 2018 was launched on February 9. While the early end of the school year was officially announced Sunday, all governmental schools and universities in North Sinai have been closed since the start of the military operation.
Parents and and students have turned to private lessons as the only source of schooling in the governorate. However, amid strained economic conditions, several of the families Mada Masr spoke to have stopped sending their children to private tutoring as a result of the fuel and gas shortage, which has led to transportation difficulties within North Sinai Governorate.
Mohamed Kamal, who lives near the west Arish neighborhood of Masaeed, tells Mada Masr that his two children, one of whom is in the seventh grade and the other in the fifth grade, have stopped receiving private lessons.
He cites transportation difficulties, saying that teachers refuse to come to his house for tutoring sessions.
Similarly, Khaled Samir, who lives in the Samran neighborhood in southern Arish, has stopped sending his daughter to private lessons as security forces are stationed around their residential area, which has made traveling for lessons an impossibility.
Samir’s son, who is in the final year of the preparatory stage of his education, which is the final year before entering thanaweya amma, faces the same problem, to the extent that he had to drop some subjects in order to attend lessons in others.
Samir tells Mada Masr that his son attends English and mathematics lessons since they need a tutor, while the other subjects can be studied with the help of family members.
For Salem Mohamed, an Arish-based preparatory school teacher, the education directorate’s decision is worrying.
“What is concerning is that this disrupts cumulative subjects, such as mathematics, languages and Arabic grammar,” he says, pointing out that the curriculum is designed to build on the course work of each successive semester.
Mohamed argues that the directorate must provide a solution to the disruption, with one scenario being that teachers would start the new year’s semester by reviewing the sections of the curriculum which were missed due to the termination of the school year.
The military campaign’s effect on North Sinai’s education system has also reached the tertiary level.
While classes have been halted in North Sinai universities, there have been no official statements issued to address the situation of the thousands of students in state-owned universities or to announce a resumption date.
Since the beginning of April, Sinai University, which is owned by businessman Hassan Rateb, has transferred graduating seniors in all of its six majors from Arish to its Qantara branch. Meanwhile, dentistry students in the university were transferred to the October 6 University. However, in a statement released on April 1, the university delayed announcement of a resumption date for students in their first, second and third years until after Eid al-Fitr.
The management of the Arish-based High Institute of Engineering and Technology has delayed any announcements concerning the resumption date for classes, but has transferred graduating seniors enrolled in its engineering program to the Suez Canal University to finish their studies.