A Student Union conference for secondary schools, planned to be held at the Press Syndicate in coordination with the Freedoms Committee, was cancelled on Monday as none of the students were permitted entrance.
Security personnel surrounded the syndicate and prevented anyone from entering the area, except journalists. Officers took the IDs of some students from the union but did not allow anyone in for the conference.
Some students, who are members of the union but preferred to remain anonymous, told Daily News Egypt that it is still unclear why the security blocked their entrance and took their IDs. The head of the union came early but left shortly after once he was informed that the conference has to be cancelled, the students added.
“We thought that there would be a conference inside the syndicate building, however, the security told us that it was a protest not a conference,” one of the students said.
Khaled El-Balshy, head of the Freedoms Committee, told journalists who managed to enter the surrounded area that he was just allowing students the space to express their opinions and discuss their case, adding that he does not want to risk anyone being arrested, thus the the conference was cancelled.
The Student Union released a statement on Sunday announcing the press conference, the goal of which was to discuss the latest crisis of secondary school students’ exams, the absence of information, and lack of transparency in tackling the problem.
Education Ministry spokesperson Bashir Hassan said on Sunday that the education system needs substantial changes, pointing out that change will need time. He added that the ministry has already started to change curriculums and train teachers to use new technologies.
Hassan went on to say that there is corruption inside the ministry, however, the minister is taking measures against it and refers all corruption cases to the public prosecution. “The minister has a vision to develop the education system, it has already been disclosed in the parliament and the developments will soon be felt,” the spokesperson said.
There was an uproar among secondary school students, who were set to take the important thanaweya amma exams in June, when several exam papers were leaked on Facebook. The leaks were released prior to or during the scheduled exam time, though the Education Ministry denies some of the leaks.
Earlier this month, secondary school students took to the streets to protest against the ministry’s decision to repeat their exams, calling for the dismissal of the education minister. The ministry has arrested about 20 people on charges of leaking exam papers on the internet.