CAIRO: Teachers held a second protest Saturday calling on the Ministry of Education to scrap assessment exams which determine whether teachers receive pay increases or not.
The exams were held over the course of three days this week for primary, secondary and technical college teachers.
During the protest, which was held in front of the cabinet office, teachers condemned what they regard as “humiliating and “ridiculous exams.
“I did not sit this exam because it is a humiliation, teacher of Arabic Raghab Ghazal told Daily News Egypt.
“How is it that I can graduate (university) with distinction, teach for 12 years and then be forced to sit an exam to determine whether I receive a pay increase? he asked.
While many of the teachers at the protest boycotted the assessment exams, those who did take it say that the questions were both unrelated to their teaching disciplines and did not properly assess teaching ability.
One teacher, Said Hassan, told Daily News Egypt the multiple choice format rendered the exam a matter of luck.
“One of the questions asked was, ‘if two pupils are involved in a fight, how would you respond?’
“All of the options were correct – there was no wrong answer, he continued.
Teachers opposed to the exams protested in examination halls while they were being carried out last week.
Mohamed Abdel Moneim, a teacher from Alexandria, told colleagues during a meeting held after the protest that he was arrested and briefly detained while chanting slogans in the examination hall on the second day of tests.
He was threatened that “there would be more serious repercussions if he was involved in further protest action.
Teachers are calling for across the board pay increases which are not linked to assessment exams, which they say is their right under the legislation introducing the pay increases.
They allege that the assessment exams form part of an eventual plan to privatize the Egyptian education system and phase out free education.
In addition to rejecting the assessment exam in principle, teachers state that the pay increase promised is “derisory, according to a statement issued by the Teachers’ Voice group.
“The increase decided on by the Ministry of Education is derisory and completely out of touch with huge price increases and the minimum wage needed to survive, the statement reads.
The Network of Egyptian Teachers is critical in a statement of the academies which will be established to train teachers, saying that they should be absorbed into education colleges and that they should supplement the Teachers’ Syndicate “which is legally obliged to develop teachers’ abilities.
The statement also demands that Syndicate membership be “the sole proof of competence to work in the profession.
The Syndicate has been the target of criticism by teachers.
“The farce of the assessment exams reaffirms the Syndicate’s weakness, its subservience to the executive authority, its participation in the squandering of public funds and its relinquishment of the role assigned to it by law, the Network of Egyptian teachers says in its statement.
“For these reasons the Syndicate should be stripped of confidence, the statement continues.
Sayyed El-Badry of the Teachers’ Voice group said during the meeting after the protest that the group is organizing a “million signatures campaign to strip the Syndicate of confidence.
Teachers’ next protest action is scheduled for Sept. 20 – the start of the new academic year.
“We will stage an open-ended sit-in at the Teachers’ Syndicate in Dessouq, Kafr El-Sheikh, Naim Ramadan, a teacher from Dessouq told Daily News Egypt.
“I expect about 5,000 teachers to take part in the sit-in. We won’t end it until the education ministry responds to our demands for pay increases without assessment exams, he said.