Secondary School Development: Challenges and Opportunities

On our way to the development of education in Jordan, we will face many challenges, at the elementary stage (lower and upper) along with the secondary stage. Today I will address three challenges related to the development of the secondary school and the secondary school exam (Tawjihi) in particular. I will discuss the elementary stage challenges later on.

Challenge number 1: The challenge of accepting change. If we run a survey today to see who is for the development of education and who is against, the majority of results will be supporting the development process. Even if we discuss the vision and general goals of development, we will find the overwhelming majority with them. However, once we begin discussing the details of implementing visions and objectives, the different stakeholders will defend the current status quo. It is the human nature that fears change and anomaly, which if left as is would have aborted any change or development, not due to bad intentions, but due to the fact that change means moving out of the comfort zone. The change that people want is the one that affects everything except themselves.

In his seventh debate paper, His Majesty King Abdullah II warned about this phenomenon and the dangers of procrastination and delay. Therefore, the mission on hand is to move forward towards change while benefiting from dialogue and feedback, not to disrupt the process, but to maximize gains and reduce risks.

Challenge number 2: It’s the urgent need today and amidst the fourth industrial revolution to move from the superficial and transient understanding of school subjects to more in depth, specialized, critical and creative thinking. So, it is necessary to reduce the number of subjects required from students to be able to interactively and practically focus and delve into more specific subjects.

We are fully aware of the good intention of our colleagues who have warned from “the catastrophic consequences” if the number of subjects is reduced from 9 to 8, and 7 in the Tawjihi exam, but we want them to rest assured and familiarize themselves with the global practices in this area. In countries which are more advanced than Jordan in different education indicators, it’s required to pass six subjects in the secondary school exam. We call our colleagues once again to look at the paradox in our system in Jordan which has been issuing equivalencies to the certificates of international programs at the high school level for all private schools in Jordan for seven subjects. Why do we allow Jordanian students in private schools to apply for seven subjects in foreign programs, and do not allow the same to our students in the national exam?

Challenge number 3: The challenge on us as parents and educators to give our students the ability to make decisions regarding their future. Not necessarily leaving them alone, but to allow them to discover their professional and scientific tendencies, and to enhance their decision-making and responsibility. I am fully aware that we always want the best for them, but they do need to express themselves, their desires and tendencies.  If we do not give them the opportunity to participate in decisions that affect their future, happiness and self-fulfillment, when will it happen? We have to provide professional and career guidance, information and alternatives to empower them to decide for their futures. 

The development is taking place not only in the secondary school and Tawjihi but in all stages, and in all components of the educational process, the most important being teachers and professionalizing the teaching workforce through a system of moving up the career path along with working on safe and healthy school environments. We are aware that the challenges are big and the road is long, but our chances are strong and the momentum is high, we have to move forward with courage and confidence, learn from our mistakes, learn from global best practices to benefit for the interest of our students and our country.

                                                                 

His Excellency Dr. Omar Al Razzaz

Minister of Education