(The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Al-Fanar Media).
During a visit to Jordan last summer, I observed boisterous families in the streets, spraying foam in the air and beeping car horns as the pressures of sleepless nights and looming exam dates finally came to an end. They were celebrating the end of the Tawjihi year, the final year of high school that leads up to the Tawjihi exam, which measures high school success and determines who gets into a university and what they can study.
While on holiday, my family members and I gathered around to hear the results of the highest achieving students in the country.
My own high school experience was with the International General Certificate of Secondary Education (IGCSE) and British A-Levels curriculum, which I studied in Oman.
But knowing that most of my relatives in Jordan studied Tawjihi, I became very curious to know what their experiences were like. When I asked my uncle, who was the fifth-highest achieving student across Jordan back in his day, about his opinion on the system, he described it in one word: hectic.
Choosing One’s ‘Stream’
There are many differences between the Tawjihi system and the British curriculum that I studied. For instance, before entering their Tawjihi year, Jordanian students must decide which “stream” of the national high school curriculum to study, whether it be scientific, literary, technological, or managerial.
However, in contrast with the A-levels, in which students study up to four subjects for their final two years of high school, Tawjihi students study up to ten subjects, which could be very diverse in nature and totally unrelated to one other, such as economics, chemistry, physics and art.