It Isn’t Just the TIMSS…

By Fahed Khitan

تم نشره في Wed 7 December / Dec 2016. 01:00 AM
  • Fahed Khitan

Jordan’s performance in the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) assessment received more attention from specialists and commentators, as well as pass-byers, over that last two weeks, than any other national case.

Notwithstanding the importance of the test and its indications, but it is not to the extent we have stretched out to be; the problem in our education, that is. We made it sound as though were it not for the TIMSS, we would have to face the bleakest of fates, and soon!

The performance of Jordanian students before 2009 was much better than the years following. Does this mean that education in Jordan was somehow ‘good’, and then suddenly dropped?

Fact is, education in public schools was never good; neither before the TIMSS nor after. And the Ministry of Education can actually prepare for the test next year, scoring much better grades, without ever having to constitute a fundamental change in the education process. Will we then be satisfied with the level of our education and suddenly begin rooting for the Ministry and those responsible for the education of our youth?

The problem of education in Jordan is in root one of resources. Truth be told, the difference in the performance of public and private school students, of both classes; 1st and 2nd, is caused mainly by the lack of allocated resources, ranging from qualified teachers receiving fair pay, through modern education methods and tools, all the way to the lack of smart schooling environments, and the development of advanced modern curricula, in addition to extracurricular activities, which develop student capacities and qualify them for future competition. This is no secret!

In private schools, students gain a fluent comment of the English language before even getting through 1st grade. In public schools, students graduate high school almost illiterate to the English language.

The Ministry of Education’s whole budget for the year 2017 stands at around JOD900 million; including Army salaries from teachers and administration allocations, as well as renovation expenses, maintenance, and allocations for building new schools, and the list goes on!

If it were really our goal to achieve a level of public education that is competitive to what the private education sector has to offer, the budget of the Ministry has to be tripled, at least! Notably, states that rose high with their education prioritised it, allocating sufficient resources for it, and ended up reaping the fruits of their relentless sowing!

We want to achieve what Malaysia, Singapore, and Finland did, without paying an additional penny! No; we also have the audacity to chop some of the allocations for the Ministry of Education off in order to control expenses! Seriously?!

Of course, resources alone do not suffice, lest it would be wasted. There needs to be a comprehensive, integrated vision of the development of the education process. Personally, I think we have this vision, and we are not short on neither ideas nor expertise. In fact, all the resistance today to education reforms will probably fade the moment resources are allocated. No one will have the ability or power to stand against the reformation project, should those charged with it be given what they need; be it financial or moral support, in order to constitute a real, tangible difference in the level and quality of our education.

There are several distinct public schools, particularly those patronised by the Queen Rania Foundation for Education and Development. Similarly, if you were in the least serious about the future of education in Jordan, then it is this kind of schooling we need to focus on generalising; the kind that graduates distinct students and provides a quality education that is fundamentally different from the level of education in other public schools.

Resources first, after that, everything becomes possible; with or without the TIMSS!