This morning as I was driving out of my neighborhood, a car whipped past me with three or four teenage girls leaning out the windows and sunroof, waving their arms and screaming. Aadii, as the Jordanians say. Typical. Just another day in Jordan. Probably a group on their way home from an all-night wedding. Once I hit the main road, though, I heard a cacophony of car horns, saw a dazzling show of hazard lights, and saw more teenagers spilling out of car windows and sunroofs. The police were out in force. By the time I got cut off for the fourth or fifth time by speeding teens, I was getting pretty annoyed. I was also totally confused. It’s normal for Jordanians to celebrate weddings or soccer victories with mawaakib al-faraH (something like “convoys/parades of joy”), but I’d never seen one at 9:00am.
When I bought the day’s paper, I finally figured out what the occasion was. Results were released this morning for the tawijihi, a massive comprehensive exam that Jordanian students spend their last year of high school preparing for. It’s a much bigger deal than the SAT, because the tawjihi score is the single determinant for a Jordanian’s success after high school. University acceptance and job prospects all hinge on the tawjihi. A student who botches the tawjihi will suffer for life. Obviously, the teens wreaking havoc on Amman this morning were quite happy that they passed.
The release of tawjihi scores was front-page news in the local paper. The papers also delivered warnings from the Ministry of Education that the release of tawjihi scores typically brings great danger. The ministry pleaded with students not to engage in risky driving behavior. Special police and security procedures were enacted for the day. The ministry noted that the last time tawjihi scores were released, 400 students had their driver’s licenses suspended because of violations.
UPDATE: read a sarcastic Jordanian’s perspective here.