In Palestine the General Secondary Education Certificate Examination is referred to as Tawjihi or Al-Tawjeehi. It is the last step in the educational process, which will reach its conclusion after an exam covering a variety of subjects, including Arabic, English, Mathematics, Physics, Biology, Chemistry, Computer Science, Geology. To be eligible to take the exam, students must finish two years of preschool, ten years of basic education, and two years of academic or vocational secondary school (Tawjihi year).
The exam’s process
At the end of the 12th grade, students take six to ten exams over a period of two weeks for the Tawjihi, depending on the track they select. This is one of the most important stages in life for Palestinian students’ future. The results of the Tawjihi exams are directly related to the choices that students must make regarding their academic careers. In addition to determining which fields of study students are qualified to apply for, the grades will also determine whether students will be accepted into universities. Retaking exams is a choice for students who fail one to three of them. And if the students succeed, they may apply to colleges the following year.
The Tawjihi entrance exam limits a student’s choices for majors and classes in addition to determining if they are allowed to enroll in university. Passing with a mark of 50 is sufficient, however enrollment in a Palestinian university requires a grade of at least 65. The test results are announced across the country via radio, the internet, and television. But to receive a detailed analysis of their marks, students are required to visit their schools.
After the results announcement, cities and towns light up with fireworks, and student celebration parades fill the streets; while the entire family comes together to try and offer emotional support to the Tawjihi student.
The history of the Tawjihi
The Tawjihi has long been a part of the Palestinian education system. Exams were first introduced in the West Bank when the Jordans took over the administration there; while in Gaza they began in the 1990s, when the Palestinian Authority took control of the territories from Egypt. Thus, many East-Jerusalemites see it as a victory over Israel’s attempts to enforce its control. Israel tried to implement its own curriculum as soon as it had taken control of East Jerusalem in 1967. However, due to fierce opposition and a protracted school strike, it was forced to back down.
Up until 2006 the tests were based on the Jordanian curriculum books. But now anything published in the textbooks authorized by the Palestinian Authority is fair game for the test.
The long tradition of the exams, its high stakes for so many students, and the public nature of the results announcements have made sure that the tests are a staple of modern Palestinian society.