Hope for Education, for the Coming Generation!

By Jumana Ghunaimat

تم نشره في Sat 15 April / Apr 2017. 12:00 AM
  • Jumana Ghunaimat

The deterioration of our education system over the decades has become one of Jordan’s most pressing problems, to the point that it now endangers the very future of our youth.

For the most part of it, this regression is mainly due to its inability, as is, to keep up with the advancements of modernisation.

This caused the obsolete system, and subsequently; the students, to fall behind in the race for knowledge.

Our youth, thanks to our out-dated systems and curricula, has become incapable of critical thinking.

As for technology, they are similarly incapable of keeping up with the progress of information and communication worldwide.

As a result, a societal crisis has culminated, due to this regression in the level of education. Graduates of Jordanian education institutions in general, have not the competitive knowledge or edge to land meaningful jobs or even productively engage in the labour market.

Our institutions have given them no more than the minimal knowledge and tools to land a place, at best, on the unemployment line, in an endless wait for an opportunity.

Once, good education gave people a way to better their lives and move up the class ladder.

At one point, our public schooling system graduated professionals with the competitive qualifications to dive head first into labour pool.

Meanwhile, the output quality gap between private and public schools was relatively acceptable. But not anymore.

The cost of private education has skyrocketed, at least for some schools, while public schooling degraded. Subsequently, this left an outstandingly vast segment of our society largely dependent on public education.

On their part, all they can do [public school graduates] is watch their dreams of a decent job turn ash on the side benches of hope. And why? Because the qualification and knowledge they gained from going to public schools do not meet the bare minimum requirements for jobs which matter; jobs they deserve a shot at.

In today’s world, the education one gets more or less defines the quality of their life and future. Any one in their sane mind knows that decent education is the way to a better life, as well as to a better, lively, productive society.

Without it, our youth will forever be suspended on their quest for hope, merely; halfway in, halfway out!

So, to inspire the motion towards the future, the King, in His 7th Discussion Paper, titled “Developing Human Resources and Education Imperative for the Nation’s Progress”, said it all.

Other countries, no better than us; some with little to no promise at all once, now preside among the world’s leading countries. Many of those were only capable of doing so by prioritising education over almost everything else.

As a result of their fruitful endeavours to reform education and advance its institutions, they graduated scientists and experts, who then on led their nations to greatness!

So, why can’t we?

In these Royal Papers, the King expresses, clearly, His dream that Jordan’s “schools, vocational training centres, and universities graduate great thinkers, talented craftspeople, and productive individuals”.

With His mind set on driving progress, His Majesty addressed the role of reforming education in building Jordan’s future.

“Schools should identify students’ interests,” His Majesty said, “harness their talents, and build their capacities. Schools should be incubators of change, graduating students after equipping them with the skills to face challenges and build Jordan’s bright future.”

The future, as we dream it, the way His Majesty envisions, can only be attained by developing a curriculum which instils critical and analytical thinking, pushes students to inquire, weigh various opinions, and encouraging them to respect different views by pursuing the culture of dialogue and diversity, all the while guided by capable teachers, qualified to raise future generations.

The King said it loud and clear; we can no longer allow fear of change and reluctance to embrace modernisation and scientific advancement to waste the vast potential of our tremendous human resources.

It is as dangerous as it is intolerable to mire the future of Jordanian youth and their education in petty politicking and narrow interests. Addressing the question of education, we must rise above all such issues if we are to continue with our reform and development endeavours to create a better present and future.

Alarmingly, all this talk about developing school books, curriculum, and advancing education to improve the miserable outputs of the system, came after the recent embarrassments in maths and English tests. Over 100 thousand students in primary grades are illiterate, and 90 per cent of the students fail English tests even though they have been taught it since first grade!

Meanwhile, all the previous catastrophes had failed to convince us that we should not so naively resist development in education.

The new only new thing about this is that it is getting worse. And even that we’ve become more or less accustomed to.

In truth, just some of the results of previous evaluations of the education process in Jordan could have sufficed to aggregate an all-encompassing motion towards addressing the shortcomings of the system, instead of opposing reforms!

Time is a luxury we cannot afford.

With hundreds of thousands of our children in school today, and thousands of jobless, payless graduates, whose 15 years in school had only failed them in their hopes to land a job, or a vocation to live by, at least, the calamity grows.

The more we delay reforms, the greater the loss.

However, if we act now, against all odds, despite all difficulties which may face us, we might just make it in time to see our beloved Jordan into a brighter, better, greater future.

This article is an edited translation of the Arabic version, published by AlGhad.