On Education: This Is What We Reap

By Jumana Ghunaimat

تم نشره في Mon 5 September / Sep 2016. 12:00 AM
  • Jumana Ghunaimat

Just a quick look over the products of our public education institution would send goose pumps down your spine! One quick example on that is the Ministry of Education’s statements, a short while ago, on there being 100 thousand illiterate students in grades 1 to 3 of our elementary public schools; who cannot read or right!

Moreover, following the large scale flunking in the Public high school examination programme (Tawjihi), and the education institution’s failure to qualify students for these tests, the numbers of Jordanian students flowing into other countries, like Turkey and Sudan; by the thousands, to purchase high school degrees, has increased, only to manipulate the system and get admitted  into universities. Accessory to this crime are the parents, who took it lightly upon themselves that they could secure high school degrees for their children for no more than a few thousand Jordanian dinars, and relieve themselves of the endless Tawjihi headache.

As for the well-off Jordanians, those do not hesitate in a second to have their kids enrol in any one of the international programmes, like IG and IB, knowing that what the Tawjihi system provides to their children is not enough to qualify them to compete, nor facilitate opportunities.

It is not secret that students, 12 years into the education system, barely —if at all— have the basic minimum of tools necessary to preface their transition into an all new chapter in their lives; university and careers. And we can all ask ourselves: what trace did school or university books leave in us over the years of our academic discourse in public schools and universities, in terms of real qualification, and how much knowledge and information, in light of studies that indicate nearly 70 per cent of the contents of school curriculums do not go beyond the frameworks of pointless indoctrination, as a huge percentage of students graduate high schools lacking the most basic command of the English language, for example, as though they had never learnt it!

Briefly speaking, this is an ancient and old issue, and is reflective in the catastrophic products of our education system, right before our eyes. So why do so many resist reforming curriculums and tweaking our books, waving around accusations and pointing fingers at all those who seek to address these deformations?

The dominant reaction to that is biased and un-objective. It is coarsely partial to a public opinion against the already begun reformation. It is biased, I say, because it directly leaves out all the indicative, shameful outcomes of our education system, and do not care about child literacy. And they also do not see a need there to learn English, as it is only the language of most sciences and knowledge, let alone communication. More so, students evading Twjihi and their parents buying their certificates is not a big issue for them, it seems!

This is instinct play, and exploitation of the religious nature of society; claiming these changes do not seek to develop religious view in curriculum, as they have omitted Quran verses in school books, and the addition of images depicting unveiled women, which is not true. Quran verses were not omitted, and the books contain an excess of images depicting veiled and unveiled women.

In a country with Islam as its religion, teaching Islamic ethics, and the religion itself, to the new generation is a must, to plant the virtues of Islam deep inside their hearts. But we also need to arm them with a science that serves their interests and future, to build generations capable of driving Jordan’s development. Reforming education and the judiciary will surely fix this country best. Otherwise, we all lose.

Reformation and amendments so far do not suffice. The journey of education reformation is long and tiring, and so long due that these deformations have been deepened.  Driving these reforms into modernity requires a lot of work. And if we were really serious about bettering people’s lives, then we all need to work together and partake in the reformation that pillars it all.

What we need is a curriculum that teaches critical thinking, scientific research, and thorough evaluation; an appreciation of science, productivity, work, and creativity. The story is not that religion is target here, at all, but rather the substitution of vacant books with others that are beneficial to the students. Superficially addressing the case, by the government or anti-reformists, through abbreviating it with “picture”, does not reflect well on the sophistication of our education system.