CAIRO: Egypt’s Education Ministry is taking action following a spate of incidents in schools recently.
One student, Malak Mohammed, died and 15 others were injured when a staircase partially collapsed as they climbed the stairs at the Muhammadiyah Preparatory School for Girls in Giza. Authorities are investigating the incident.
Eight-year-old Mina Farag was killed after falling from a third-floor window at her school in Agouza, Giza, as she ran from a teacher who was trying to discipline her. The teacher has been arrested.
A disgruntled school employee in Sohag, southern Egypt, stabbed the principal of a girls’ high school in front of students and teachers gathered for morning assembly.
The victim was rushed to hospital where he was treated for his injuries. The attacker was angered by repeated rebukes over frequent absences and dereliction of duty, local media reported.
There are 25 million schoolchildren in Egypt who attend nearly 50,000 public schools. Classes in private schools, which number about 9,000, began two weeks ago.
The ministry has directed schools to ensure the permanent presence of directors and general managers to follow educational process and wait until the last student leaves the premises.
The ministry has called on education directorates to immediately report the occurrence of any problems or emergencies and to communicate directly with the minister’s office.
It also called for scheduling parents’ entry on specific dates to prevent overcrowding and ensure students’ safety.
Education Minister Reda Hegazy ordered the closure of unsafe schools that require comprehensive maintenance.
“Maintenance is the responsibility of the school director and the building official. They must review the maintenance completely and accurately and describe the conditions of the school,” he said during a meeting last week.
Dalia Al-Hazawi, the founder of the Egyptian Parents’ Coalition, told Arab News: “It is necessary to develop organizational plans for supervision in schools to manage and monitor students’ behavior, whether during recess or when they enter and leave the school to prevent accidents. Unfortunately, some teachers view daily supervision as just routine work that they do with indifference.
“After the incident of the student’s fall from the third floor, the decision to have classrooms of younger students must be reviewed. Classes on the upper floors should be dedicated to students in higher grades, while the classes on the ground floors must be for students of lower grades. It is because students in the early stages of their lives are unable to distinguish between right and wrong,” Al-Hazawi said.
Educationist Safwat Muhammad Hussein told Arab News: “Schools must know well that their duty is not just to educate, they are also required to protect students. The recent incidents highlight the need for the government to take strict measures against those who are negligent in their duties. The move to review the safety of buildings in all schools throughout the country is an important step, but it was introduced a little too late.”