Owais: Tawjihi system (the General Secondary Education Certificate Examination) should be reconsidered
- Students will undergo a preparatory year before being admitted into their university majors
- The status of the teachers’ union can be discussed after the judicial decision is issued
- We need 10,000 teachers, and the budget allows only 4,000 to be appointed
- Private schools are subject to our oversight and there are complaints that are subject to investigation
- Admission policies to universities will change next year
Minister of Education, Higher Education and Scientific Research, Wajih Owais, said that the “Tawjihi” high school exam system is a vexing issue for the decision-maker, and it must be subject to reconsideration, especially since it no longer measures the student’s ability at all, revealing the next two years’ plan that includes the “Tawjihi” GPA being a requirement for university admission, not to major selection.
Owais revealed at the media forum that was organized by Center for Defending Freedom of Journalists (CDFJ) in cooperation with Zain company, that the students will undergo a preparatory year at the university, which will qualify them to enter specializations according to their abilities and inclinations, indicating that no high school certificate from Turkey or Arab countries will be equivalent as of 1 September 2023.
In the dialogue moderated by Mr. Nidal Mansour, Owais stressed that education in Jordan has witnessed a decline during the past years, and that the Ministry of Education is working to raise the quality of education in public schools, which requires good training of teachers, in addition to improving the infrastructure in schools, and developing the curriculum, which has already begun, alerting to the economic and financial challenges facing his ministry, including the need to appoint 10,000 teachers, however, the ministry’s budget does not allow for the appointment of more than 4,000 teachers.
The minister explained that these challenges require the ministry to resort to additional education to fill the shortage in the number of teachers, stressing that this solution is not the best.
Owais added that the response of the Ministry of Education to the repercussions of the Corona pandemic was remarkable, and that the ministry had developed a short-term plan, and a long-term plan to compensate for the educational loss that could be compensated, especially in the subjects of Arabic, English, and Mathematics for the first grades.
Owais pointed out that early childhood education is the most important stage of education because it builds the personalities of children, but it needs the presence of distinguished nurseries and kindergartens, with trained teachers, a good curriculum, and a good environment, expressing that the ministry falls short in this area, as it covers only 34% of children in (KG2), while the private sector also covers 30%.
With regard to the issue of the teachers’ union, Owais said that so far, no written judicial decision has been received, and that there are cases still being considered in the courts, noting that the legal period for the term of the union council, which is 4 years, has ended, and that after the judiciary has completed its tasks, the status of the teachers’ union and its elections can be discussed.
He stressed that after the issuance of the Parties Law, especially Article (20/A), students have the right to practice partisan work and express their opinions on campus without accountability if they do not harm others, noting that the ministry has finished setting up a system that frames the relationship between students and the university administration, and that it has raised this order to the Prime Minister.
He added that the Ministry of Education and the Curriculum Development Center had developed an educational material to promote freedom of expression among students, and that it would be taught to tenth and eleventh graders.
Owais acknowledged the existence of classism in education, and said “some foreign programs in private schools graduate students at an advanced level who outperform their peers in government schools.”
The minister added that private schools are subject to the oversight of the ministry, and those schools cannot raise annual fees more than the permissible and agreed-upon limit of 5%, stressing that there are many violations related to fees, transferring students from one school to another, and submitted complaints from teachers in the private sector to the ministry are dealt with immediately, and direct investigations are opened.
Regarding the incident of the murder of the student Iman Irsheed on the campus of a university, a case that formed a public opinion, Owais confirmed that his case is the first of its kind in Jordanian universities, and that the Ministry of Higher Education held two meetings with the university administration, and developed a plan for how to control entry and exit to universities campuses.
As for harassment issues, the minister said that harassment exists in all institutions in the world, not only in Jordan, and the danger is that an official or a university professor uses his authority to do this act, stressing that there are mechanisms to deal with such issues, and that they are being investigated. Owais added that anyone involved in such issues is exempted from his work, which is what happened recently in a university and in the Ministry of Education.
The minister noted that the merger of the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Higher Education will take place after many measures have been taken, most importantly the reduction of functions of the Ministry of Higher Education by giving some of its entrusted authorities to the High Education Council of Universities, including admission policies, explaining that a plan has been set in the Higher Education Council to change admission policies as of next year, and to transfer the full authorities of admission after another year to universities.
Owais called on the capable Jordanians to donate to build and maintain schools, noting that a fatwa issued by the Iftaa’ Department called on capable to donate to build schools, an act similar to building mosques.