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By the Gazette Editorial Board

Now that economic reform is moving ahead according to set plans, more attention is being paid to improving healthcare and education services, the two most important sectors which affect the citizens' quality of life.

New health and educational projects are now making the headlines in the local media. They are projects that express a clear state intention to address long standing problems in a viable way.

A case in point is the long waiting lists of patients who have been waiting to undergo surgery in government-run hospitals. President Abdel Fattah El Sisi gave directives in this respect prompting the Ministry of Health to coordinate efforts with university and ministry-affiliated hospitals to schedule these operations and find funding to end the waiting lists in less than three months.

The recent incident at Deiarb Negm Hospital in which three kidney patients died and l2 others fainted at the end of their haemodialysis sessions, set the alarm sounding on the need to rid public offices and institutions of negligence.

The incident, which the president was keen to refer to while inaugurating a new medical edifice established by the armed forces for military men and civilians as well in Menufia Governorate, has shown that the sustainability of good quality services needs much more than initial decisions. Follow-up, maintenance, making the best of available resources and accountability are indeed basic components for improving any kind of service, not to mention healthcare.

Ongoing efforts to improve the healthcare service should not be disregarded. For instance, a campaign, the largest in the world, to be launched to detect and treat hepatitis C virus is one of the huge accomplishments in the medical field. Egypt has managed to successfully fight the disease and bring down the incidence rate by providing an effective and affordable cure.

Moreover, people are optimistic about the new health insurance system which is to be applied in its first stage in Port Said.

As for education, the change to be applied to curricula, methodology and approach, starting this school year, is part and parcel of comprehensive reform that aims to create better living conditions for the people.

 However, the public expects officials in all sectors to be prompt and decisive in their engagement with problems and shortcomings without having to wait for the president's directives. The fact is that years of accumulated deficiencies have made it challenging for the bodies concerned to set the record straight. It will take time for the people to sense real change. However, they should at least see that the new accomplishments are not being wasted by bad management. 

CAIRO, Sept 21, 2018 (MENA) - Egyptian Minister of Higher Education Khaled Abdel Ghaffar met Friday with the chairman of the supreme council of Italian universities, President of the University of Naples Federico II Gaetano Manfredi.

The minister stressed the importance of enhancing cooperation between Egypt and Italy in the scientific and educational fields, as well as boosting the partnership between Egyptian and Italian research and scientific institutions, according to a statement by the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research.

The ministry explained that the meeting came in light of the minister's participation in the activities of the international scientific conference on innovation, which is organised by university of Naples Federico II from the period September 20-22.

During the meeting, both sides discussed ways of boosting cooperation on establishing a complex for the university in Egypt, in order to help it in enhancing the quality of its university and technical education.

At the end of the meeting, the two sides signed a letter of intent to boost the strategic partnership between Italy and Egypt in scientific research and technology and increase the exchange of students and teachers.


How to make learning pleasant

By the Gazette Editorial Board

Schools across the nation are gearing up for a new system which the Ministry of Education will apply through a gradual process, starting this year with kindergarten and primary one pupils.


The new system, which the Minister of Education, Tarek Shawki, has advocated in recent months, has stirred up a row because it reshuffles established educational norms of the past few decades which have relied too much on rote learning.


Shawki's plan is governed by a philosophy that should make learning a pleasant process and a target in itself, rather than a means for pupils to get high scores in the final year exams regardless of cognitive skills and output.


So, the new system is bound to challenge mainstream society concepts regarding the purpose of school education. It must be said that most Egyptian families have been obsessed with the idea of their offspring finishing school to pass on to university only to get a certificate which is associated with social prestige.


Dr Shawki vowed at a press conference a few days before the start of the new school year not to allow primary school pupils to move on to the next level unless they are able to read and write properly.


This has not been the case in recent years. Many primary school leavers who had received education at government-run schools were found to have difficulty writing even their own names.


Therefore, Minister Shawki's ability to convince parents of the feasibility of the new system is bound by the approach of the teachers and school administrations.


The minister's plan has been well designed in principle. But we dare say that when it comes to practice the same description may not fit because the education system here has been stained by malpractice for many years.


For instance, study aids which explain the curricula in a detailed way with lots of exercises, have in time turned into a flourishing business for their compilers.


 And pupils gradually dispensed with school text books in favour of these aids which spoon feed pupils under an examination-oriented educational system.


According to the minister, pupils will get free tablets to help them with the research process as part of a flexible syllabus that does not expect all of the students to give similar answers.


The new system is meant to boost the children's creative abilities and analytical thinking and, according to the minister, teachers have been trained to use new teaching methods.


The point is will authors of study aids still find a way to get through to the new system?

Moreover, the ministry's new approach is meant to curb private tuition at all school levels.

This will not take place overnight because the new system will be applied gradually. However, the minister has already taken a big step towards educational reform and it is the duty of parents to help him achieve this national mission.

September blues

By Ramadan A. Kader

Having yet to rally from successive hikes in prices of different goods, tens of thousands of families across the nation are bracing for the imminent start of the new school year. On Saturday, more than 20 million students go to school, an event usually associated in Egypt with financial and psychological woes.

Weeks before schools reopen their gates, many families have already recruited the service of mushrooming private tuition centres, which is ironically an unlawful business. This type of informal education has virtually become the order of the day and far influential than schools for long years.

This is particularly true for thanawya amma or the general secondary school studies, which have over the years transformed schoolsinto ghost places in favour of private tuition venues.

Rises in school and transport fees mean that families have to fork out much more money than before for their children’s education.

In the run-up to the new school year, Education Minister Tareq Shawqi has kept a high profile in the media with what he has called the “biggest educational revolution” in Egypt’s modern history.

For months, the minister has been at pains to tout his plan to “revolutionise” the national education. He promises that the new multi-layered system will make costly private lessons a matter of the past and schooling a pleasant experience.

Last week, Shawqi was quoted in the local media as saying: “The whole world is waiting for the onset of the new education in Egypt.” His statement has raised many eyebrows and generated online derision. Even though, the minister sounds optimistic about the new process.

Scepticism among parents will arguably be a major obstacle to the success of his upgrade plan. Evidence is this strong demand for private teachers ahead of the new school year.

It is not hard to know what make parents act like this and view the much-hyped education “revolution” with suspicions. Mention the term “education development” and most of the nation’s parents will feel deeply apprehensive.

The term sounds notorious. For decades, it was repeatedly evoked with results being disastrous. For example, in the 1980s, the sixthgrade was scrapped in the name of developing education. Years later, it was reinstated on the same pretext.

Likewise, the pre-university thanawya amma studies were the target of several changes. First, its final examinations were limited to one year. Later, they were stretched over two years.

According to Shawqi’s plan, they will cover three years.Plain and simple, the current situation is underlined by a long-standing trust problem that has taken root as a result of ill-conceived and baffling education decisions.

Adding to this mistrust is a strong feeling among parents that they have been kept in the dark about the controversial new system. The Education Ministry contends that the system has been at the centre of wide debate.

The trust gap is a non-starter for the promised reforms. Parents are a major success factor in the process. Their feeling of being left out is counter-productive. The large numbers of students already frequenting private tuition around the nation is a message that education authorities should not misread.

CAIRO, Sept 16 , 2018 (MENA) - Education Minister Tarek Shawky signed a protocol with Dr. Annette Bohling, Advanced chief accreditation officer, and Dr. Kem Hussain, Advanced vice president for the Middle East/ Asia- Australia, on the regulations governing the American diploma in Egypt.

In a statement on Sunday, Shawky underlined the importance of the protocol to ensure the quality of education.

He noted that the ministry is working in full power to apply the new educational system on early stages of primary schools this year.

Advanced is a nonprofit organisation to help educators improve schools and enhance learning for millions of students. 

CAIRO, September 13, 2018 - Education Minister Tarek Shawki said on Thursday that a protocol of co-operation between the education sector and the international schools association in Egypt will contribute to improving the quality of education and offering distinguished educational services to students.
The minister made the remarks at the signing ceremony of the co-operation protocol.
The protocol has been signed by Head of the General Education Sector at the Ministry of Education Reda Hegazy and chairman of the board of trustees of the International schools association Nadia Mohamed Hafez.
The protocol falls within the framework of the Education Ministry’s initiative, according to which the international schools association will provide technical support to a number of the international governmental schools in Cairo, Alexandria, Qalyubia, Port Said, Sharqia, Gharbia, Dakahlia, Minya and Sohag governorates, as of the new academic year 2018/2019.
For his part, Hegazy said that the Education Ministry was keen that the deal would obligate the targeted schools to teach school subjects that are related to the national identity in line with the international curricula.
Speaking at the signing ceremony, Hafez asserted her association’s keenness on integrating with the Egyptian Education Ministry with the aim of scaling up the pre-education level’s system.
Hafez pointed out that the association will offer technical support and educational content needed for operating the targeted schools, noting that it will also help schools to obtain international accreditation from the international donor community.

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