Many of us went through the Thanaweya Amma days, and they usually aren’t the best, to say the least. Thanaweya Amma is basically an 11-month torture cycle and we need to talk about it.
Education takes over 18 years of our lives, and that’s how it is almost everywhere. But here in Egypt, Thanaweya Amma alone feels like a million years of those 18. And we’re not going to lie, going to the daily private lessons in the nearby centers and meeting up with friends is definitely fun.
That being said, do we even learn? Is it fair to keep studying the same material over and over again for 11 consecutive months, just to go and basically throw them up on a piece of paper by the end of the year?
It’s not just about the controversial learning methods, it’s about our mental health that gets destroyed in the process. And it’s very unfortunate how incredibly neglected this is.
Very few people actually discuss the effects of Thanaweya Amma on students’ mental health. Rarely any of us – and I’m saying us because I was part of that system – come out perfectly fine by the end of it.
On the contrary, we reach the final exams at the end of this tiresome year feeling drained, exhausted, confused and most importantly, mentally and emotionally unstable.
The worst part about it is that it’s not even worth it. Most of those who feel destroyed because of university, for example, or other educational systems say it was at least worth it.
However, with the Thanaweya Amma system, it’s the complete opposite. Nothing is worth it, not even the good times we have through the year with our mates. Because we graduate from the system without learning anything.
And not because the material is not useful. Simply because it’s impossible to learn, understand and remember all of that in 11 months without a break.
On the other hand, let’s not talk about the material or the amount of time this all takes for a minute; let’s talk about the pressure. The pressure our parents create at home because they’re so afraid we might fail.
In addition to the pressure we put on ourselves because we cannot believe the possibility of not just failing, but also not being good enough for a certain domain/major we want to study in university. Especially, after going through all of that.
We act like our whole life was leading up to this and that it will literally be the end of the world if something goes against our wishes after working so hard.
So with all of the pressure, worries, doubts and fears; our mental health ends up in absolute shambles. Whether it’s the anxiety that takes over, the depression or a million other things.
And even if we succeed, even if we sore 99% and make the requirements for our dream college and study our dream field; something will always remain shattered because no one should have to go through all of that – especially when it doesn’t mean much – in order to pass high school and graduate.
Maybe those words are just being written out of anger and sadness over what a whole year of Thanaweya Amma did to me. But to make sure other people out there actually have the same opinion, I asked around:
“Thanaweya Amma was a nightmare. Whenever my mind accidentally wanders back to those days by the Centre, I try to immediately stop it. So much negativity when I think of it,” Rawan, 23.
“I didn’t have the worst experience, to be honest. But did I learn anything? No. Would I take it all back? Definitely. Because even though my life wasn’t completely ruined because of it, still it wasn’t worth all the sleepless nights,” Omar, 22.
“I remember when my father used to drive all the way from his work to our house in the middle of the day because I was having my usual breakdowns. There were days when I would actually take the decision to drop out and not go down that road anymore. But my whole family would all be there to drive me from those thoughts,” Nada, 21.
“A year? Man, Thanaweya Amma felt like a decade, definitely not a year! Yeah, I had some fun with my friends and actually met some great people at the time. However, it was disastrous. I remember the final exams months and how I’d be uncontrollably shaking in fear,” Sanaa, 22.
That being said, we’re actually seeing a development in the education system in Egypt, in general. For example, the steps that are currently being taken in the system for the 10th graders is remarkable.
And we really hope it means that there will be similar or even better steps taken for improving the Thanaweya Amma system, to make it more realistic and keep it from damaging our mental health, for good.