A Walk on the Wild Side?

Source: Carnegie Endowment
Author(s): Nathan J. Brown, Mayss Al-Alami

Original Link: http://carnegie-mec.org/diwan/74679

Tariq Shawqi was sworn in as Egypt’s education minister last February, joining the ranks of a group of technocrats in a cabinet not characterized by boldness. He has since challenged everything about the Egyptian education system—criticizing teachers, examinations, pedagogy, and textbooks (and not just the current textbooks, the very idea of textbooks are in his crosshairs). With each verbal bombshell he has challenged not only longstanding practices, but also powerful forces.

His first target was the system of examinations on which Egypt’s educational system rests. Periodic exams and certificates culminate in the general secondary school exam(thanawiyya ‘amma) in which students are tested on a battery of subjects. Their score determines not only whether they pass or fail, but also what subjects they may study in the state university system. The examination (and earlier examinations, such as those at the end of sixth grade) have legions of critics who charge that they are based on rote memorization, place enormous and inappropriate pressures on young students, and encourage students to study subjects at the university level based on their level of prestige, determined by their exam score, rather than their own interests and abilities…

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