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Addressing the Tawjihi nightmare

Mar 18,2015 - Last updated at Mar 18,2015

During Tawjihi, the General Secondary Certificate Examination, over 100,000 students live a year of stress, and as many families live a nightmare waiting for the expected results.

I do not see an easy solution in replacing Tawjihi, but we should continue adapting it.

There is no doubt that it should be modified and the Ministry of Education is probably studying alternatives for modification.

The question is, why reinvent the wheel? Let us just look around and see what worked in other countries and what did not, taking into consideration two factors: Tawjihi has to become less stressful to the society, the family and the students; give students more chances and alternative to bring out their strengths and find the line they choose for their careers.

Many schools in the private sector, rightfully so, adapted international external exams, like the IGCSE, GCE or IB. These are approved by the Ministry of Education and a system exists to provide equivalency of grades.

Why are those becoming more appealing? 

These international exams are taken by students over the course of three years, starting with the 10th grade. 

All subjects taken in those three years are taken into consideration for the equivalency. 

Students can re-sit for any subject to increase their average and the ministry accepts the higher grade.  These exams also became attractive because of the focus on the English language, since most of the scientific subjects at universities are taught in English. This strong knowledge of scientific English terminology helps students a lot during their first year at university. 

These exams proved to be less stressful for students and families and more useful to the students’ career and future.

So why not adapt such a model, make our Tawjihi, for example, a two-year process?

The ministry could assign certain subjects at ordinary level in the 11th grade, such as Arabic language, Islamic religion and national education as a must for all. Students in the scientific stream would have exams in mathematics and three sciences, while those in the literally stream would be given other subjects.

In the 12th grade, students would sit for advance level subjects; also during this year they could re-sit in any subject taken in the 11th grade to raise their average.

It would be advisable for the exam to be taken in two sessions every year, to reduce the tension and allow the students to sit for two or three subjects every session, and not in one session, as it is done now.

The results could also be announced gradually, and by subjects, rather than as an overall average in one day. 

I have no doubt that the Ministry of Education has considered this and has much expertise to build on this idea.

What we need is a comprehensive modification of the Tawjihi process. We simply cannot afford not to change. 

The writer is an education adviser with more than 30 years of experience in education planning, curriculum development and leading international schools. He contributed this article to The Jordan Times.

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