Education

The development of Jordan’s education sector has long been a focal point on the country’s path to economic prosperity. Jordan has continually strived to achieve equal opportunities in education, preparing a new generation of innovators by bridging the gap between educational output and labor market needs.

As His Majesty King Abdullah II ibn Al Hussein wrote in his Seventh Discussion Paper, titled ‘Developing Human Resources and Education Imperative for Jordan’s Progress’, “. . . Education is key to nation-building and improving our world, at a time of a global race to realize knowledge economies and invest in human resources. We cannot keep up with the rapid developments of this era without utilizing its novel knowledge tools and latest technologies.”

Steps to Reform the Sector

Despite an impressive literacy rate of almost 91 percent and a high university enrolment rate, Jordan has faced numerous challenges to its education sector. In recent years, the number of students attending schools in Jordan increased from 1.3 million in 2004 to 1.8 million in 2016, including an estimated 125,000 Syrian refugee children in Jordanian public schools. Similarly, the number of students obtaining higher education increased from 142,000 in 2004 to 192,000 in 2016 – a figure that is expected to reach 450,000 by 2025. This has placed a strain on the education system, requiring new accommodations – such as teaching in double shifts – to keep up with the rise in demand.

To counter these obstacles and secure positive results, many initiatives, organizations and projects have been launched targeting a wide range of relevant stakeholders, from schools and universities, to students and teachers. At the forefront of these efforts is the National Human Resource Development Strategy (2016-2025), launched by the Government of Jordan in September 2016. The strategy is a 10-year plan that targets reforming elementary education, higher education, technical education and vocational training to ensure continual development of
Jordanian talents corresponding to emerging global trends and needs.

The strategy builds on previous efforts in this regard, many of which have provided Jordan with a leg up in its pursuit of broad education reform. During the World Economic Forum in 2003, the Jordan Education Initiative was initiated to support Jordan’s efforts in improving the level of education, encouraging creativity, developing capabilities and building a knowledge economy. Utilizing innovation, ICT and modern teaching strategies, the initiative seeks accelerated education reform to further add value to students, teachers and the education system, and effectively contribute in building a knowledge economy.

 

Developing Educators’ Capacities

Within the drive for education reform, the Queen Rania Teacher Academy (QRTA) partnered with UNESCO in 2015 to launch the Blended Approach to Teacher Training program. This program provides professional development for teachers, with a focus on psychosocial issues, pedagogy, math and physics, combining online and face-to-face training for a more technologically advanced and innovative means of teacher training.

Complementing these efforts, QRTA also launched the annual Teacher Skills Forum with the ultimate goal of revolutionizing education in the Arab world and raising the standards of teaching across the region by providing educators with modern and creative strategies and innovative teaching techniques.

As the country takes steps to build upon the skills of its teaching cadres, it also makes it a point to extend its appreciation for the invaluable, hard work that Jordanian educators extend throughout the year. Each year since 2005, the Association of Queen Rania Al Abdullah Award for Excellence in Education has honored distinguished teachers, principals and counselors, thereby contributing to a culture of excellence and creativity as well as to knowledge creation.

Rethinking Education

 As technologies continue to evolve, so do the possibilities for education, providing new means to expand access and deliver education to all. In 2014, Queen Rania Al Abdullah launched Edraak, a massive open online course platform offering original Arabic online courses to further enrich Arab education.  Leveraging advanced technology developed by the Harvard-MIT consortium, edX, Edraak strives to ensure that the Arab world is at the forefront of educational innovation.

Further sparking creativity and entrepreneurship amongst local communities, two Fabrication Laboratories, or Fablabs, have been set up in Amman and Irbid, through which those with a great idea for a new product can easily and promptly build a prototype using cutting-edge manufacturing equipment like 3D printers, computer-controlled milling machines, and laser cutters.

On another note, Jordan continues to play a leading regional role in nuclear research. With the recent opening of the Synchrotron-Light for Experimental Science And Applications in the Middle East (SESAME) research center, the first light-source laboratory in the Middle East, the country is set to advance innovative scientific and technological research in fields such as biology, archeology, medical sciences, physics and chemistry.

Vocational and Technical Training

The Ministry of Education has also been pursuing the implementation of the applied secondary education program in cooperation with the Vocational Training Corporation. This step aims to combat unemployment in Jordan by ensuring that current and future generations have a choice beyond academia to develop certain skills, build a sustainable career and improve their overall standard of living. Through this agreement, the ministry seeks to have 6,000 students admitted to vocational training centers across the country in 2018/2019.

In 2015, a decision was made to establish Al Hussein Technical University as an initiative of the Crown Prince Foundation, aiming to enhance students’ employability and technical skills while spurring the development of youth’s innovative, problem-solving, and entrepreneurial spirit. Another major player in vocational and technical higher education is Luminus Education, which offers fully accredited post-secondary training programs, as well as customized courses for industry and commercial partners. Luminus Education, alongside a consortium of private-sector institutions, is also the force behind Tasmeem, a project that aims to enhance the economic growth potential of the local communities of Irbid and Mafraq by promoting a culture of entrepreneurship.

Meanwhile, several other Jordanian institutions have stepped up their efforts to improve the employability of Jordanian youth. INJAZ – an independent, nonprofit Jordanian organization – aims to inspire and prepare youth to become productive members of their society. Through its programs, INJAZ creates linkages between the public, private, and civil society sectors to bridge the skills gap between the educational system and the changing needs of the labor market.