Jordanians want it easy!

There are few certainties in life: the sun will rise from the east and set in the west. Objects tend to fall back down when thrown up. And Jordanian Tawjihi (Secondary final exam) student will complain about the ‘difficulty’ of the math test. Another certainty: they will find a journalist to write about the complaints. Every year.

Here is one of the things that are wrong with this country: across many fields and on various levels, people just want to have it easy. They take ‘easy’ fro granted.

Students complain when tests are hard. Isn’t everyone getting the same test? So its fair! Why complain? Test are exactly that: TESTS. They are there to measure and grade people. As long as everyone is tested in the same way, tests should be hard.

People are not willing to walk a little and take the pedestrian bridge and prefer to penetrate the traffic and the metal safety fence. It’s just easier.

When it comes to work, many Jordanians shun a wide range of jobs: from construction to restaurant service. They want an easy government job behind a desk.

When it comes to our educated elite, they want transparent and fair governance but won’t participate in public forums or elections (sorry, voting for your cousin isn’t really political participation).

We expect to live in safety and security, buttressed by European and American aid, shop for American and European brands (easy), but don’t want to understand that this comes at a political price (hard).

In general, there is a tendency to always blame the others (the government, the West, etc.) which is easy. But rarely do people take a hard look at themselves and their own responsibilities.

Our lifestyle benchmark has become that of Dubai or the Gulf. Places where money literally spurts out of the ground. Or we want European-level services, and forget how hard Europeans work and how much they get taxed.

It is wrong to generalize. There are many hard working Jordanians. There are also many Jordanian with little access to opportunities. And government is riddled with inefficiency and poor governance. Still, I think that Jordan needs to adopt a new public communication and media policy targeted at our youth and our young professionals:

“Listen guys and girls. Tests are going to be hard. Because life is often hard. The world is competitive and there are 2 billion Chinese and Indians out there who are hungrier than you yet willing to work hard for a better life. The government will try do its best, but as a country we can’t do anything unless we find ways to produce more. Don’t expect foreign aid to rescue us or a new real estate boom to bring us easy money. Hold on to every chance you get and work to build on it. Thank you for your attention”.


22 Responses to “Jordanians want it easy!”

  1. Naddoush Says:

    Amen and a big round of applause.

    Many people will rather sit at home and whine and do nothing, than take a job as a waiter for example. “No it is not good enough for me – then I will rather be unemployed”. Why not take it, make your own money, even if it isn’t a lot, and do that while you wait for the perfect job?

  2. saqf Says:

    AMEN TO THAT!
    Seeing how Japanese people have achieved what they did, without any natural resources, I can surely add my voice to yours.
    They only have “human resources”, no oil, very harsh landscape, many disasters to deal with, yet they work hard and produce, and support their products.
    From the photo of the Japanese farmer who grew his cherry tomatoes on each packet, to the proud citizen driving his local car. The train station officer feels that he is doing the best job in the world, and feels responsible to the safely of many lives.
    So many inspiring example to list, but you surely hit the nail on the head.

  3. Bashar Says:

    Amen my brotha! oh how so sadly true.. yet very bluntly put! Hope a lot of people not just read this.. but gets embedded in their heads!

  4. Nayef Says:

    Beautiful.. That is what I have been wanting to read for a while now..

  5. whatever Says:

    You’re wrong, Just because a test is hard doesn’t make it fair.
    The goal of tests is to differentiate examinees into levels. If a test is too easy it will not be fair for the stronger ones as it will not differentiate between them and the average candidates. If it is too hard it will not be fair for the average students as it will not differentiate between them and the weaker ones.
    Just because a test, or a law for that matter, is universal does not automatically mean it is fair. I think Tawjihi is in serious need of reform.

  6. Rula A. Says:

    I loved the section of the pedestrian bridge.. People just drive me crazy.. And that day a man with his wife were jumping over the safety fence.. I was like no wonder teenagers do that too!!

  7. abed_italy Says:

    Life is hard, but tawjihi is old. I think it is simply with no sense. You can’t decide the future of a guy/girl in 2 weeks of exams, without looking at his/her total school career. To be a good doctor you don’t need to be good in Math, and to be a good architect you don’t need to be good in Chemistry. In a lot of european countries school and university are completely different worlds, there are a lot of guys coming out of school with very high scores and at university they simply fail and leave it at the first year. The final exam in Italy for example is not tawjihi (directional), but it is “maturità” (maturity) and it doesn’t judge how good you are in this or that subject, it simply judges your total career and if you are “mature enough” to pass to another level of life that comes after school.
    Then almost all universities are “open” to everyone who completed school, it doesn’t matter you got 65 or 95 at school (sometimes they simply give you some surplus courses in first year if you seem to be bad in subjects related to that faculty), you can try to become an engineer and almost all the selection is in the first year of university. I know a lot of brilliant doctors here and they don’t know even basic english. In Jordan it would be impossible because if you get a 75% in english you have simply no chance to get into medicine faculty even if you are a genius of biology, chemistry and math! We should admit that, it’s not a matter of hard or easy, it is simply ridiculous to decide a future in a month and in that way.

  8. Humeid Says:

    thanks for commenting..

    just one note. I am not defending tawjih. I think it is a pretty stupid system. No one’s future should be decided in one month.

    My post is not about tawjihi at all.

  9. hatem abunimeh Says:

    I think that the wide gap that exists between those who have and those who have not is at the fore front of the existing ill sentiments that talked about in your post.The fact of the matter for many people is that there is no light at the end of the tunnel. Cursing in the dark is alot easier than lighting a candle only to see the speeding train head lights heading in your direction. Building is a collaborative effort but you aren’t going to find enough people to agree with you on the issue of collaboration. More and more people are becoming individualistically driven with the notion of what is it for me and not what is it for the community and the nation as a whole.

  10. Hussam Says:

    “Our lifestyle benchmark has become that of Dubai or the Gulf. Places where money literally spurts out of the ground”. Very wrong Check HBR’s September’s 2009 edition to understand Dubai’s business model. Only 5% is coming from Oil and money didn’t spurt out of the ground. I’m afraid you are falling for the same problem you are critiquing about Jordanians!

  11. Cooki3 Says:

    “In general, there is a tendency to always blame the others (the government, the West, etc.) which is easy. But rarely do people take a hard look at themselves and their own responsibilities.”

    greatly put…

  12. whatever Says:

    @Hatem, u don’t need to light a candle to see the headlights of the train coming at you. :)

  13. Jordanian Says:

    Beautifully worded Humeid!

  14. MommaBean Says:

    I actually was thinking exactly what you wrote. Sadly, your post is not about tawjihi (whcih is an outmoded and inaccurate way to measure potential future success. Sadly as your first example it is one that grabbed attention.

    Your bottom line point, the expectation of ease (or entitlement culture) is right on. The hard look in the mirror is the hardest one to take, and yet the most necessary. As another example of this, I have had moms tell me that their kids are terrible and wild and don’t listen to them in one breath and then in the next say, but it’s my fault because it’s hard to say no to them. Poor thing, please keep your kid at home next time… ;)

  15. Mohammad Assaf Says:

    (sorry, voting for your cousin isn’t really political participation).

    I really like that finally someone highlighted the Jordanian understanding of democracy. What is really weird that people in Jordan always ask for more democracy from the government, and they just don’t use what is already available for them (maybe Jordanians want to vote for 2 cousins at the same time). I think its just part of our ridiculous consuming habits that we need more from everything without understand anything.

  16. Yazan Says:

    Dear abed-italy. I don’t think Italian higher education should be the base for your argument. It’s not that good, so whatever they do there isn’t really working for them.

    I do think that the curriculum for the tawjeehi stream is pretty shit and needs to be sorted out, but still just because some people who do well in school end up dropping out from uni doesn’t mean that school grades aren’t a good measure of how well a person might be suited for a job. It still stands that if you were smart at school you’re more probably gonna do well in your career.

  17. asmarani Says:

    i wrote this comment for a previous post (the one with the presentation on ReEngaging amman) but think that no one would read a 1 month old post, not in your blog anyway, so i want to share my point of view here as well. i hope someone gets to read it ;)

    “”very great effort. and like Mr Maani said, there is a lot of passion about the city, and thats very positive. good luck with your efforts.

    dont forget though that you (the educated lot {who speak fancy english}) should connect to the other ammanis, the bigger percentage of the population who may be oblivious to your strategies and nice words and sentiments. those who are less fortunate ergo less educated ergo less involved – have more pressing problems to solve, getting food on the table is only one.

    when you are able to connect and help this population, amman will start to take shape. when there is still this divide, nothing will change, actually, it may even become bigger.

    to end on a positive note, (and although i’m not familiar with the municipality’s strategy) IMHO the focus should be on inforcing communal ties between the different parts, the people, of amman. the rich should help the poor, the educated assist the less fortunate – with the help of the gov’t. bring back the spirit of the village that my father tells stories about when he was living in El Muhajireen in the 40s-70s where everyone was poor but no one was hungry – the focus should not be on towers, railway, transportation and fresh air. good luck.

    btw, i personally dont like amman but am sure many do :) ””

  18. Shmal Says:

    Humeid: Tawjihi is a stupid exam just like all other exams in Jordan. There is not a SINGLE test in Jordan that measures the real potential of any student in Jordan. Whether it be medical board exams (which are strictly ridiculous), to Tawjihi. Kolo 7aki fadi and a route to “ta3jeez”. Bleh, things will never change, gad ma 7akeena.

  19. Yanal Says:

    Great post. People here always tend to complain while they are doing nothing to make things better. “3awaj” as they say it.

    About Tawjihi, that really is not an exam…

    If you miss up in part (a) and get a bad answer for example, you won’t get any marks for part (b) if it depends on (a). While in other British or American systems, the examiner (one who corrects your paper) actually picks up the calculator and solves part (b) using YOUR answer of part (a) then corrects based on that. This is called Error Carried Forward (ECF) .

    There are also experts in the Cambridge or Edexcel boards who have only 1 job : Check if the student reads a value in the question wrong (for example you read 0.03 KG for mass instead of 0.003). They account for that and give you a full mark.

    Much more things that you can’t even imagine. Questions are put in order which is so comfortable that you will feel very confident. Easy questions followed by the hard ones. This will give you so much self esteem making you ready for the big hard stuff. Examiners also WILL give you marks for how you tried to solve the question . Plus these systems measure the students’ capabilities in 3 years not only 1.

    Really compared to this, Tawjihi SUCKS!

  20. Ahmad Al-Sholi Says:

    @ shmal: perhaps we should just commit suicide, all together!
    I guess this attitude is exactly what this post was criticizing. A demanded change that people are not willing to contribute demanded work for it.

  21. abed_italy Says:

    Dear Yazan, i actually don’t think italian education system is the best in the world, but this system made of Italy one of the 7 big industrial countries in the world in just 60 years!
    The problem of italian system is not that it is “bad” but that actually it is too much generic nowadays and still lacks of good specialization post-graduate programs if compared to UK and USA for example. Consider that only 13% of italian population have a “laurea” (in Jordan it is considered a Bachelor but in fact almost all other countries, USA included, considers that as a Bachelor+Master) and even with such a low percentage of graduated people Italy was able to compete in almost all industrial sectors with all the other “bigs” of the world. It is the 6th country in the world for exports (more than UK or Canada for example). You could like Porsche or Aston Martin more than Ferrari and Lamborghini, but you can’ts say Ferrari is “lower” if we talk about technology and knowledge needed to build that fantastic car!
    By the way, your idea that Italy is bad (almost same idea on all “latin” european countries) is typical of arabs, i don’t know why, i think it is a problem of image, Italy is considered as Pizza, soccer and that’s it! Even HDI (Human Development Index) of Italy is higher than a lot of “respected” countries in our society. (UK, Germany). You can check: http://hdr.undp.org/en/statistics/

  22. Eyas Says:

    I can’t agree more with what you wrote.
    It would have been amazing if you also included references to the Egyptian workers and the Malaysian “family-assistants”.

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