Monday, May 05, 2008

Standard BS

The geniuses of the higher education council yesterday announced that they are lowering minimum university entrance requirements for some fields at private and some public universities. Now, students are required to get 55% on the Tawjihi examination to be accepted in a number of fields. Previously, the minimum was 60%.

Now, I have been scratching my head about this all day. Why 55%? I mean, if they said 50% (the minimum passing grade), then that would make more sense. The logic would be that anybody who passes the Tawjihi has the right to continue his or her university studies. Despite the flaws in this logic, it does have a certain sense to it. But 55%? Why not 52%? Did they conduct some study that said that a 55% student was academically qualified for undergraduate studies, but 54% was just too low? Is this to maintain some pretence that they are interested in maintaining high quality in our higher education system? Like they are saying “sure, we have standards!”. What a joke.

Of course, the point is to help private universities maintain high enrollment levels. Most of these clowns are shareholders in private universities, and so they have a vested interest in packing them in. This way, classes are full, and the cash flows out of parents’ pockets into theirs. A perfect set up.

What about the students and their families? Sure, they are happier in the short run. But in the longer view, are they being served or abused. Are they being kept from going into the labor market or getting professional training that will allow them to make a decent living? Will the degrees they receive equip them to face the requirements for high quality white collar jobs that they are supposedly being trained for? As far as I can tell, getting students a university degree is a requirement made by parents and not by employers. From a statistical perspective, weak students in high school tend to be weak students in universities. Of course, universities (especially private ones) are loath to expel failing students because they make money off of them. In the final analysis, these students graduate and obtain diplomas, but are of little use in the workplace. Does anybody care?

Is it the job of the higher education system to respond to society’s preferences, or does it have a responsibility to reshape people’s attitudes to better reflect the country’s needs?

We keep hearing talk about giving our new generation the tools for dealing with the modern job market. Clearly, actions speak louder than words.



At 11:46 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The scary thing is that this scheme serves only the intermediaries who get the remaining bits of land from the target customers of these new entry requirements. The well off can and will send their brats to western and more prestigious universities or will get the higher grades needed for better degrees in better local universities. The deprived families in our Jordanian villages, where most of the above-mentioned clowns originally came from, whom their kids gave few goes at Tawjeehy to get a pass mark will need to sell their land for some worthless bank notes to pay for their Mowafaq’s and Mohammed’s tuition fees, cell phones and Malrboros. The Hyenas used to roam the Jordanian landscape until they became nearly extinct, are they coming back in different form to haunt the Jordanian villagers forcing them into cultural extinction?

Did anyone really adhered to last Sunday’s strike?

At 11:50 PM, Blogger Mohanned said...

I commented on naseem's blog about what the king said in 2005: Lower achievers become journalists and relegious "scholars"..He forgot to mention teachers also.. But what amazes me is that the actions and the policies are the exact opposite of the vision..Actually I am not amazed, I'm just trying to be amazed, but each time I fail to be amazed:)

I think their decision was based on economical concerns-sorta.I don't know how many students study abroad for their undergrad degrees, but I suspect that they looked at the numbers and found that most of them got 55% or more, so based on that they set the number at that level. In a way they are saying to the parents: Why send your kids to egypt or eastern europe?

Anyway, the education system is becoming a bigger joke each day..

At 2:48 AM, Blogger Mohanned said...

اكد الدكتور عمر شديفات في تصريحات خاصة ل "عمون" بأن قرار تخفيض معدلات القبول في تخصصات الإدارة وتكنولوجيا المعلومات الى 55% يشمل بالإضافة للجامعات الخاصة جامعات حكومية هي آل البيت ومؤته والطفيلة التقنية والحسين بن طلال .

Si if you look at the locations of the public unis which are included you will know the reason behind the decision: Cooptation and a continiuance of the so called makromeh.

Also, shdiefat said: أن التنسيب بهذا القرار جاء بعد دراسة مستفيضة لحاجات تلك الجامعات وحاجات سوق العمل.

Totally!The market needs where behind the decision, Which market is he referring to? The political and "stability" market or the their pockets market?

At 7:48 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's the sad and recurring 'let's patch it today without conscience towards the impact on tomorrow. Right now, this band aid feels goooood.'

These new rules come up by people who are miopic and have forgotten to come up for oxygen in a very long time, and 'moral attitudes' do not exist in their dictionary.

This country is caught in the vicious downward spiral of cosmetic fixes because we are avoiding yelling out loud that it's a mess and we are in dire need of a radically new way of thinking, believing, behaving. Generally, we don't know how to say: "STOP! We are making huge mistakes. Let's really rethink this." And it seems no one ever says, "let's raise the bar in our attitude of life".

While local academia and it's academic value is obviously questionable, I think the damage done with actions like this is genetic. We embed so much wrong and bad in young developing minds and souls, we force feed them into an archaic edu system, we mutate them with delusion, and hold the door open. And during the whole journey, we forget that our objective should really be to empower people to learn how to learn - that's all. Instead, our system today steals this from people, shoving them into intellectual shanty towns with a post-it that says, "PS: Now it's your turn to fix it."

At 9:02 AM, Blogger Khalaf said...

Anon: A rather accurate characterization. I like it.

What strike?

Mohanned: I would love to see the report on the "extensive studies" done for the job market. I can just imagine the questions posed to employers. "How many unqualified accountants do you need this year?", or "How many illiterate employees with overinflated egos are you planning on hiring next year?" I would bet anything that these "extensive studies" are fictional, and that there are no reports to back them up.

AM: Your comment suggests that the driving force is laziness and no desire to face up to what is happening. I hope that you are right, because an alternate analysis would place more sinister motives to what is being done.

At 10:25 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Does education or being qualified even matter in Jordan. Shall I start listing names of the big businessmen in town. Most of them probably don't know the 4 Ps of marketing or what GDP stands for.

At 1:52 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well... the attitude is laced with a layer of fear, and a sinister topping.

At 8:10 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is a humane decision when considering most students have been victimized by a collossal failure in public education in Jordan. To deny those kids access to college education because the government fucked them up in public schools is to double their tragedy. This is the price we have to pay for the absence of accountability in a non-democratic regime. Jordan is worth nothing without a solid educational system. I am afraid all the hard work of the late King Hussein is being squandered in favor of emphasis on privatization and business for the benefit of a small wealthy Jordanians who have become the barometer for Jordan's succes and failure, not the well-being of 97% of Jordanians. We need democracy and we need it now or Jordan will continue to go down hell.

At 8:28 PM, Blogger Khalaf said...

Shfeeq: No public education in the world can ensure that all graduates are of high quality. There are individual differences between students, and to ignore that would lower the quality of students with higher innate abilities. No matter what the system, there will always be excellent graduate, mediocre graduates and failing students. This is a fact of life.

Now, social pressure in Jordan drives a desire for everybody to go to university. This is not true in most developed countries. By shoehorning everybody into the university, you will inevitably either lower your standards or you will end up expelling the weak students anyway. In Jordan, experience says that the first option is the most probable outcome.

This is not to say that there are problems with schools and the lower education system. There are. On the other hand, Jordanian universities never had anywhere near the current capacity to accept students when king Hussein was in power. There is a massive growth in student numbers, in many cases quality suffers because of this.

At 11:39 PM, Blogger Hareega said...

Private universities (and hospitals) and profit organizations, so I don't blame if they try everything possible to gain more and more. Their primary goal is not education. Even for those who attempt to maintain certain quality of teaching they do for the purpose of eventually having better reputation and raising the tuition fees.

At 11:50 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

>>> No public education in the world can ensure that all graduates are of high quality.

Jordan's ensures most are of poor quality. That's the real tragedy. then there is public education and there is public education. the trash of Malaysian or Taiwanese public education rivals Jordan's average public school output. That's the other tragedy.

the need for Jordanians to get a university education is rooted in their belief that only a university education can get you out of Dodge and into the Nirvana of the Gulf. Without such a get-out-of-jordan card , Jordanians will have to compete with Thai and Philippino workers in jordan who can live with the low salaries since back in their home countries, 150 JD a month can go along way.

At 12:03 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am personally not convinced with Dr Shdeifat's credentials as a Minister of Higher Education. His record at Al Hashemiyya was not impressive but he did a good show in defence of the method of conducting Parliamentary election on Jordan TV. Only 8 days later he was appointed as a Minister. I guess you do not need academic credentials after all.
However, look at it from an economic perspective. The rich and careless student will spend their money in Jordan rather than outside. Wasn't the same argument used by yourself in the Casino debate?

At 5:57 PM, Blogger Mohanned said...

I think that the debate about the casino was regarding the handling of the issue and the costs that we carried for such bad handling. As for education we are here talking about the future of the country and its existence, the output of the euducational process will literally decide our future. The question becomes: Who is shdeifat to control and decide what our future? Are we that cheap?


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