Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Palestinian "SATs"

The biggest story in all the Palestinian Arab papers is that the results of the Tawjihi secondary school exams have been released.

According to Ma'an,
The exams are administered once a year, and comprise tests on a variety of different subjects, including English, Arabic, Science, Math, Religion (students can choose Islam or Christianity), Palestinian History, Geography, Biology, Physics, Industry and Agriculture.

It is interesting that a passing grade is only 51%. Even with that seemingly low threshold, out of 86,824 students registered for the exams, only 47,469 passed (55%), with only 27,724 passing in the humanities sections and 12,611 passing in the sciences.(Apparently, you only have to pass in one or the other in order to go on to college.)

I don't know, but do these results sound like a reason to celebrate? I suppose it is possible that the exams are really hard, but to craft an exam where students are only expected to know barely half of the answers seems strange.

Yet celebrate they did. Mahmoud Abbas congratulated the students who passed (and said "better luck next year" for those who didn't - you are allowed to take the exams 9 times). Massive gunfire and "fireworks" were heard in Gaza, scaring some residents.