Minister of Education Omar Razzaz on Tawjihi Reforms

Reforming Tawjihi

Ever since assuming post as the Minister of Education, Omar Razzaz has been busy engineering plans to upgrade the Kingdom’s education system, starting with the General Secondary Education Certificate Examination (Tawjihi).

Razzaz, who has been a vocal advocate of the importance of a modern education system that provides an equal opportunity to all, said the ministry has come up with three pillars to improve the Tawjihi experience for the Kingdom’s youth.

The first, he said, was implementing the concept of learning for life. “If we want to translate that, we cannot tell a student at any stage of their lives that their learning journey has stopped,” Razzaz said at a meeting with the media last month. “Which is why we decided to allow the students to repeat their Tawjihi exams for unlimited times.”

In the past, students were allowed to resit for their Tawjihi exam up to four times. Today, Razzaz said the ministry understands that students might go through some difficult circumstances in their lives, whether psychological, health, or family conditions. This will also allow older people to retake the exam.

The second pillar is providing equal learning opportunities. “We all know that there is a gap in our education system, between the private and public education, there is even a gap within the same class between those sitting in the front seats and those sitting in the back. We have to narrow this gap so that education can be an opportunity for everyone to achieve their goals,” stressed Razzaz.

While the third is to reach the right formula to build national values that bring people together while allowing each student to realize their own distinguished potentials. Each student is distinguished, said the minister, adding that the ministry needed to acknowledge these differences among students while helping each to realize their potentials.

To do that, the ministry plans to introduce some drastic changes including the raising the final score to 1,400 starting from school year 2017-2018. “Each student has their own talents, passion for a subject, and hatred of another. If we do that then we will help them reach self-confidence and a higher self-esteem.”

According to razzaz, these changes that the ministry initiated in coordination with the Ministry of Higher Education, will be a continuous process that will require years to be fully implemented to develop the Tawjihi exam first. The ministry will also evaluate the students during different stages of their education journey, like the ninth and third grades. “The aim is not to fail these students,” he stressed. “But to understand if there are certain learning difficulties in these classes and understand students preferences.”

Razzaz criticized the education system’s tendency to focus solely on memorization and encourage critical thinking instead.

He also hopes to be more just in considering the scores according to the different regions of the Kingdom. Even if their score is below that required by the engineering or medicine faculties, explained Razzaz, if they are still the first in their region then they should be allowed to study any of those subjects so they can go back and serve their governorates.