Teachers lash out at assessment exam, demand more respect

Teachers lash out at assessment exam, demand more respect

CAIRO: About 120 school teachers expressed their rejection of government plans to link pay increases with teachers’ performance in assessment exams at a protest Thursday.


Teachers say that the examinations are “humiliating.”


During the protest, which took place on the steps of the Teachers’ Syndicate in Zamalek, demonstrators held up banners reading “No to testing of teachers…no to humiliation of teachers” and “Fair pay and free syndicate.”


Examinations will test their knowledge of a variety of subjects not necessarily related to the discipline they teach.


“Why should I be tested on my knowledge of Arabic grammar when I teach geometry?” Mohamed Ibrahim Dessouqy asked.


“Some of the teachers who will be tested have been in the profession for over 30 years — they are the ones who taught the minister of education himself. Why after 30 years of teaching are they being tested now?”


Primary school teachers will be tested on Sunday while secondary school teachers will take the exam on Tuesday and Wednesday.


Teachers in technical colleges will be examined on Thursday.


“This is an insult to teachers,” Abdel Nasser Salama told Daily News Egypt.


“Why don’t they do this for all professions? Why just teachers?” he asked.


A statement issued during the protest by the Tagammu political party alleged that the decision to link the 50 percent pay increase promised to teachers, with examination results is illegal because it is not provided for in the law governing the pay increase.


The Tagammu statement places the decision to link pay increases with testing in the context of an eventual plan to privatize education.


Abdel Nasser Ibrahim, of the Giza Federation of Teachers emphasized this.


“This is not just about a minimum wage: this is about a policy which will eventually stop schools accepting pupils if it is decided that the schools aren’t up to standard — where will these children go?” Ibrahim asked.


This scheme in schools follows on the heels of a recent government initiative in universities whereby professors will volunteer for a scheme of pay increases linked to performance.


The scheme was heavily criticized by university professors as divisive.


In addition to rejecting the idea of testing in principle, teachers criticize both the content of the exams and the way teachers will be examined.


“A professor at the faculty of education looked at the model examination paper I showed her and told me that the questions themselves don’t make sense,” teacher Iman Helmy told Daily News Egypt.


“On what basis am I being tested? I go online to try and find out the subjects that I will be tested on and find that there’s no relation between the subjects they list and the questions in the exam,” she continued.


Salama also alleged that some of the questions in the exam have nothing to do with education.


“What has a question like ‘what number stop is the Mubarak metro station?’ got to do with anything?” he asked.


Teachers claim that the exam is a method by which the ministry of education can avoid giving pay increases to all teachers.



They allege that stipulation that exams are answered in pencil rather than pen is so that correct answers can be altered and the numbers passing the exam controlled.


George Ishaq of the Kefaya movement also criticized the testing scheme during the protest.


“You can’t test teachers without training,” he said.


New academies will be created as part of the scheme where teachers will receive training, but they will be tested before receiving this training.


Egypt’s in trouble because its education is in trouble. We call for the resignation of the syndicate’s leaders and the creation of a popular syndicate which will defend teachers’ rights rather than adopting government causes,” Ishaq continued.


A syndicate representative did not speak during the protest.


Before the protest began however, deputy syndicate head Yehia El-Kilany told a small group of teachers that syndicate officials recently discussed the matter with the minister of education.


“It was ministerial advisors who came up with the idea of testing,” El-Kilany said.


El-Kilany told Al-Osboa newspaper last week that the syndicate requested that teachers be given their due promotion first and that the Academies be opened afterwards — after which time those who wish to receive training can do so.


Teachers say that the syndicate does not defend their interests and criticize the fact that the syndicate head is appointed by the state, rather than elected.


During the protest teachers called for promotions to be applied according to seniority rather than by examination.


They demanded that training and experience be linked to promotion rather than being linked to pay, and called for the abandonment of the academies scheme, demanding that the role of training centers within schools be improved.


They also called on President Hosni Mubarak to implement the promise he made three years ago for a LE 1,000 minimum wage for teachers.


Teachers say that they will not sit the exams. El-Sayyed El-Badry of the Alexandrian branch of the Committee for the Defence of Teachers’ Rights called for a strike if teachers’ demands are not met.


“The 50 percent increase amounts to LE 150 per month,” one teacher said during the protest.


“Is it really worth losing my dignity in front of the pupils for that sum?”