The rapid adoption of online education in Egyptian universities as a result of the pandemic last year halted student activities.
This year, Egyptian public universities are trying to resume online versions of those activities. The Ministry of Higher Education developed a plan for student activities focusing on cultural, social and art activities.
“Digital and social media platforms have been employed to engage the largest possible number of students,” said Taye’ Taha, advisor to the Minister of Higher Education for student activities.
At Egyptian public universities, student activities usually include cultural, arts and sports, with competitions, exhibitions and festivals. The activities also include cultural exchange programs that are both local and international. For this year, the ministry’s plan includes holding competitions in various fields such as poetry, singing, short story writing, photography, and chess, all of which will be conducted online.
“We hope these activities will contribute to restoring the spirit of fun and joy to student life in light of the social distancing imposed by the epidemic,” said Taha.
Egypt’s universities started the current academic year with regular classrooms and face-to-face student activities, but using the necessary precautionary measures. Ain Shams University’s Faculty of Engineering organized a competition for students from various Egyptian universities to manufacture electric cars using local components. But the high incidence of coronavirus cases the country has experienced since December prompted the ministry to cease on-campus teaching and student activities.
Ambitious Plan, Uncertain Outcomes
Some students welcome these activities for their role in easing the tension and psychological pressure imposed by lockdowns.
“We were in solitary confinement, and we needed to engage in any activity to get out of this crisis,” said Mohammed Mahmoud, a student at Helwan University’s Faculty of Commerce. Many of his fellow students have suffered psychologically recently, Mahmoud said, because of their inability to communicate directly with others.
Although some welcome the partial online resumption of student activities, others are not as enthusiastic. They believe that the online programs do not suit the nature of many activities that require a physical presence, nor does it break their isolation, but on the contrary, it increases the feeling of psychological distance.