Tawjihi exams begin Thursday amid strict Covid measures

Over 200,000 students will take in-person exam after 3 online semesters

(Photo: Jordan News)
(Photo: Jordan News)
AMMAN — Students around the country are avidly preparing for the annual Tawjihi exams, which begin Thursday.اضافة اعلان

The exams, which mark the end of high school for Jordanian students and can be determining factors in college acceptance, will take place from June 24th to July 15th.  

The nation-wide test comes after an unusual three semesters of online schooling for Jordanian students. But unlike their classes for the last year, Tawjihi will be conducted in-person, with certain restrictions intended to prevent the transmission of COVID-19.

“I am distancing myself from any social media platform which may raise my stress levels,” said student Maha Marashdeh, who will be attending tomorrow’s exam, in an interview with Jordan News. “It seems unfair that the ministry chose the exam in lecture halls instead of online. Nonetheless, I aim to perform well.”

Each year, the high school exam causes a flurry of anxiety for students. Exam proctors are trained to treat student anxiety and deal with possible panic attacks. “Students must be given the needed care and self-reassurance prior to the exam from their teachers, proctors, and family members in order to assure their mental stability,” said psychologist Amina Hattab in an interview with Jordan News.

“Students may be prone to panic attacks if they are told that the fate of their future depends on this exam,” said Hattab. “Students have not attended school campuses and have been fully reliant on online resources to receive their education during the pandemic. This may result in an increase in stress levels in exam halls.”

“There will be 207,280 students attending the high school exam this year on the 24th of June, with 838 testing centers, holding 2,160 examination halls,” said Ahmad Masaafeh, a media spokesperson for the Ministry of Education (MoE), in remarks to Jordan News.

“Furthermore, the Ministry of Education is in solidarity with the Ministry of Health in creating a health protocol which governs all procedures of the examinations starting this Thursday. This protocol will cover three stages, prior to examination, during examination, and post examination. Sanitization will be provided, as well as social distancing banners.”

Students with temperatures exceeding 37 degrees Celsius will be placed in an isolation room for the span of an hour to assure that they are capable of attending the exam room with the rest of their peers. “COVID-19 patients, however, will not be attending and will be examined on another designated date,” said educational expert Thogan Obaidat over phone with Jordan News. While students will not be required to take a PCR test to enter the exam, they are encouraged to implement social distancing and to get tested if they have symptoms before the time of the test.

Necessary supplies, including writing utensils, water bottles, and tissue paper, will all be provided to the students to prevent any attempts at cheating. 

Additionally, the ministry announced that instant messaging apps, like WhatsApp, will be banned for the duration of the exams in the locations where they are held, another controversial decision. “We are totally against any kind of alteration, modification, and limitation on internet users’ rights,” Jordan Open-Source Association Executive Director Issa Mahasneh told Jordan News. He pointed out that the ban often leaks out and affects those living in areas next to schools where the exam is held.

“I think that the government should consider better alternatives rather than just shutting down the internet or specific services during the exams,” he said. “If we look at any country in the first world, they are not applying any of these measures during the national exam.”

Even outside of COVID-19, the exams, and the huge amount of pressure placed on them, have been contentious. Educator and author Husni Ayesh told Jordan News that he strongly opposes the idea of determining one’s fate and future through a single examination. “It is an unjust education system and simply demotivates the student,” he said.

Similarly, Leen Marashdeh, who took the exam last year, stated, “I was very frustrated with the format of the exam, having too many marks on one single multiple choice question, which took many points off my final grade.”

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