Sunday’s papers: Thanaweyya amma results, opposition coalition dissolving

Thanaweya amma is the Egyptian high school certificate, and an issue of collective consciousness in Egypt that easily makes headlines in all types of press. Today’s news is the results of the final exams, and coverage bounces between the positive thinking of the state-owned press and the cynicism of the privately-owned and opposition press.

State-owned Rose el-Youssef leads with “Girls are the first in thanaweya,” referring to the fact that female students scored the highest grades in this year’s round of final exams. State-owned Al-Akhbar and Al-Ahram also lead with news about the results, albeit with less of a celebratory tone. A series of passport pictures of the girls who scored the highest grades is featured in all three papers, giving a positive image to a process dubbed “traumatic” by most of those going through it.

Privately-owned Al-Dostour on the other hand leads with more alarming news: “Half of thanaweya amma students have failed,” is its headline. Al-Shorouq declares: “50 percent is the rate of success in a thanaweya of void.” And opposition paper Al-Wafd runs with an even more ominous headline: “The worst result for thanaweya amma exams ever.”

Abdullah Kamal, chief-editor of Rose el-Youssef, writes a whole column about the need to improve education. In his editorial, Kamal writes that a nahda (renaissance) in education could be the one national project around which all Egyptians could gather to support. He notes that education is perhaps a more urgent and relevant question than even the nuclear project or the urban development of remote areas in the country.

In independent papers, some party news made front page headlines. Al-Dostour writes about the Nasserist party quest to “rectify itself and its path” ahead of the up-coming parliamentary elections. Iameh Ashour, vice-president of the party, says in an interview with the paper that he is supportive of an election boycott and would “out” any state officials who try to strike agreements with the party in order to grant them seats in the parliament in an indirect way. “We don’t need those seats. We need our respect for ourselves as well as the street’s respect for us,” Ashour says.

Al-Wafd, mouthpiece for the opposition Wafd Party, confirms news that has been circulating about the party’s pullout from the opposition parties coalition which convened earlier this year to collectively strategize ahead of the parliamentary elections. The Wafd Party’s decision comes after Democratic Front Party head Ossama Ghazali Harb’s call to boycott the next elections and his criticism of the Wafd Party’s high board’s announcements regarding preparing for the elections. Mostafa Shordy explains to the paper that the party already tried boycotting elections in 1990, but experience proved that it such a tactic is not an effective tool. He says the boycott negatively affected subsequent election results for the party, with only five Wafdists making it into parliament in 1995. Shordy reminds Harb at the time of the Wafd Party boycotting the elections, Harb was part of the ruling National Democratic Party (NDP)’s Policies Secretariat and appointed to the Shura Council by the NDP to guarantee the latter’s majority in the council.

Al-Shorouq pitches into the dispute by running a short news item on its front page about the Democratic Front Party (NFP)’s response to the Wafd Party’s pullout from the opposition coalition. Ibrahim Nawar, responsible for political awareness-raising within the NFP, says in an interview with the paper that the Wafd Party’s decision has killed the coalition. “We had previously decided to leave the coalition but reconsidered following the personal intervention of Hassan Nafaa, coordinator of the National Association for Change. But with the Wafd Party’s decision to pull out, there is no longer a coalition.”

And so it seems that the attempt earlier this year by opposition parties to rally together against the NDP ahead of upcoming elections is already history.

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