Hundreds of teenagers in downtown Cairo gathered Monday morning in front of the Ministry of Education in order to protest against Egypt’s education system and to call for the minister of education to leave, Middle East Eye reported.
Decrying what they saw as an “oppressive and failing” educational system, a few hours into the protest police tear gassed the students, shot rubber bullets at protesters and arrested a number of them.
Local news outlets reported that similar protests took place in other regions of the country, including Arish, Assiut, Alexandria and Port Said.
“How could I not come here today?” a student’s mother told the Middle East Eye, adding that the educational system is filled with “injustice.”
Egyptian high school students are required to take "thanweya amma" exams in their final year of high school in order to attend university. The exams force students to memorize tons of material and many students seek out private tutoring lessons to compensate for incompetent education system.
The students call their system oppressive and a failure. | Photo: Reuters
“My father’s money is being wasted,” Ahmed Khateeb, a student, told Middle East Eye. “Thanweya amma is destructive to households.”
The protest was triggered by a decision made by the ministry on Sunday to postpone the exam after the students had already taken it, because the exam’s questions and answers had been leaked.
"These leaks happen from inside [the ministry],” one protesters said while another added, “It’s not our responsibility that they can’t prevent cheating.”
Earlier in June, a university student who managed a popular Facebook page called “Chao Ming Helps Thanaweya ‘Amaa Students Cheat,” that leaks exam answers and questions to high school students, was detained and charged. Since then, three more people suspected of doing the same were arrested.
Abdel Hafiz Tayel from the Egyptian Centre for the Right to Education told the Middle East Eye that thanweya amma exams have been leaked for decades, but now are more accessible because of social media.
“Thanweya amma has been for years the only gateway for the poor to enter university,” he said. “The Ministry of Education itself used to leak the exam questions, and it was in the interests of the children of ministers, celebrities and other governmental officials who got these questions”.
Tayel also said that social media has allowed the corruption of the ministry to reach more people and “[the government officials] don’t want that.”