Prime Minister Abdullah Ensour said on Sunday that the poor results in the Secondary School Certificate Exam (Tawjihi) had underscored the need to revamp the higher education system and the university admission policy.
He told presidents of state universities and members of the Higher Education Council and the Higher Education Accreditation Commission that the poor results should prompt changes in the this year's university admission policy, adding that the opportunity to achieve that was "real and realistic." Ensour said during the meeting, attended by a number of ministers, that the results of the Tawjihi exam, which determines the fate of students, were "a qualitative leap in the general education reform process and that its output should reflect on the input and level of higher education." He said the results would grant universities the opportunity to extricate themselves from pressures and admit students fairly on the basis of merit, urging the Higher Education Council to review the exceptions in admissions and question the fairness of the current admission policies, including quotas. The prime minister stressed that the higher education sector should be a priority when it comes to reforms and development "as per thorough steps and in such a manner as to maintain the good reputation Jordan had attained over the years." He urged the accreditation commission to desist from opening new faculties and seek to strike a balance between academic specialisations and the labour market's real needs, stressing that the Tawjihi was the only viable means to select the best students to continue their university education.
Ensour also dismissed calls for abolishing Tawjihi as "non-feasible and unrealistic," adding that if it was rescinded, universities themselves would determine admission criteria and questioned their ability to do so.
Education Minister Mohammad Thneibat said this year's Tawjihi "was not a sudden coup, but was the beginning of a new strategy to redress the secondary certificate exam," assuring that this year's marks were "one hundred percent real."