Universities and schools start the new academic year with new regulations, reports Reem Leila
Summer is over along with Ramadan and the fun spirit of the Eid. Now is time for school bells to start ringing. More than 52,350 schools with 20 million pupils, along with 17 universities with 2.5 million students, kicked off the new academic year on 24 September. The percentage of attendance in schools was more than 90 per cent during the first week. But many families are concerned. University students as well as their staff members are to undergo blood tests for HIV, Virus C and drugs. School students are also facing new regulations to control the educational process in schools.
A week before the beginning of the academic year, Minister of Education Al-Helali Al-Sherbini held a meeting with senior officials from the Education Ministry to discuss the new regulations. During the meeting, Al-Sherbini and the officials agreed on a ministerial bill for school disciplinary systems, one that will enable schools to execute their educational, moral and scientific roles and focus on educational therapy methods instead of using more traditional punishments.
A proposal for “electronic absence” recordkeeping for attendance for primary high school students was also approved. The electronic absence is set to be applied at other levels of high school education during the 2017-2018 and 2018-2019 academic years. “Electronic absence was taken since the first day of the academic year,” Al-Sherbini said.
Al-Sherbini said, “Every student who attends classes and shows disciplined behaviour will be awarded an extra five points to be added to their grades.”
According to Al-Sherbini, the first term of the academic year started on 24 September. The beginning of mid-term exams will be on 14 January 2017 while the mid-year holiday will start on 28 January and end on 10 February. The second term of the academic year will start on 11 February, whereas final term exams will kick off on 13 May. This year’s academic year will total 103 school days.
The minister stated, “The ministry coordinated with the Ministry of Interior to safeguard the 20 million school students as well as the 1.5 million teachers.”
The ministry has finished printing 85 per cent of school books; the remaining 15 per cent will be finished during the first week of the academic year. “By the end of the first week of the academic year, all students will have received their books,” Al-Sherbini said.
On the first day of school, female police personnel were stationed in front of schools with stun batons to prevent harassment of female students and possible violence against them.
Minister of Higher Education Ashraf Al-Shehi said newcomer students all over the country’s universities, whether public or private, must undergo blood tests during the first month of the academic year. Blood tests are meant to determine whether Egyptian students are suffering from Virus C or drug addiction and whether foreign students have HIV.
“Foreign and Egyptian students as well as university employees and staff members are to take blood tests. Special attention will be given to students who reside in university dorms,” Al-Shehi said.
According to the minister, students found to be infected with HIV will be immediately dismissed from both the university and dorms. “We can’t risk the health and wellbeing of our students,” he added.
Just days before the academic year began, some schoolteachers held a protest demanding an increase in salaries. Ministry of Education officials promised to solve the problem within the next few months.
President of Cairo University Gaber Nassar said university dorms had sufficient room for 2,000 male and 4,000 female students. “Blood tests are routinely done for all students who apply for the dorm. However, it is the first time to undergo these tests for all university students and staff,” Nassar said.
According to Nassar, a new plan has been drawn up for student activities in order to help them enhance their life skills as well as their practical and leadership abilities. “Students’ cultural programmes will be reactivated in order to enrich their capabilities,” Nassar added.
President of Ain Shams University Abdel-Wahab Ezzat said new security measures will be applied this year. “The university will issue a new kind of student ID card called Radio-Frequency Identification (RFID). The card will be impossible to forge. It will be given to students, employees and university professors. Those who do not have this card will be denied entry into university premises,” Ezzat said.