Ministry rejects pass/fail assessments

Students voice their concerns on social media, claim their arguments were ignored

An undated photo of the entrance of the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research. (Photo: Petra)
An undated photo of the entrance of the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research. (Photo: Petra)
AMMAN — The Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research rejected a pass/fail assessment for medical students, sparking outrage on social media and among student activists.اضافة اعلان

Following a campaign by medical students to convert exams to this system due to the additional stresses of COVID-19 and the switch to online learning, the ministry issued a statement about “pass/fail” tests, where they rejected the option while also listing the reasons for the rejection, noting that it came after all parties, including the students, unanimously agreed.

Medical students’ representatives disputed this and informed Jordan News that “this was absolutely the opposite” of what they decided on with the ministry.

Zaid Al-Khateeb, a sixth-year medical student at the University of Jordan in the clinical stage who represented clinical stage medical students to the ministry, was one of the people who started a Twitter hashtag requesting the replacement of the current minister of higher education.

“Our demands are loud and clear. We contacted our university’s deans, as well as deans from other universities and the Ministry of Higher Education. We also reached out to the Higher Education Council, knowing that they have the final say on these matters. We finally came up with the ideal model that satisfied all parties,” he said.

“Despite our best efforts, they had us running around in circles. They declined to let us in at one point and refused to see us or discuss the matter with us, only to find out later that they had totally twisted the decision that we had decided upon and indicated that they had seen and spoken to us when this obviously did not occur. It’s no surprise that the students are enraged. That is why we started the ‘All or None’ movement.”

According to Khateeb, the students are not only outraged by the decision, but also by the ministry’s “disrespect” and “lack of cooperation,” which prompted them to launch the trend on Twitter, hoping that it garners a lot of attention and eventually leads to the replacement of the current minister of higher education.

Kamal Nasir, also a sixth year medical student in clinical stage, seconded Khateeb’s opinion. “This is more than just a hashtag and trends movement: These are our outraged voices speaking out against the ministry’s statement that simply does not hold any truth. The deans met with the deputy secretary-general to get approval for the pass/fail system, only to have the minister reject the whole concept,” he told Jordan News. “We never even had the opportunity to speak with the minister to explain our concerns. Instead, we had to wait outside for four hours, (with him) refusing to see us.” 

According to Nasir, the minister previously claimed that a pass/fail system could affect the validity of the students’ medical degrees; yet “many medical faculties around the world” have implemented the system already, as has the United States Medical Licensing Examination.

Mohammad Rasoul Al-Tarawnah, vice-chairman of the Medical Council’s Executive Committee, said that “medical students have no right to assert a form of a pass/fail assessment, and because the nature of practice of this profession includes three basic pillars, namely expertise, ability, and behavior, each of these is tested in the students’ assessments. The current situation does not necessitate such an approach. This approach was used during World War II, but only due to the desperate need for the intervention of doctors.”

For his part, Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research Mohammad Abu Qudais told Jordan News that “The Ministry’s decision is in the best interests of students, and a pass/fail system would damage their academic performance.”

Read more National