The Civil Society and Responsibilities towards Education

By: Marwan Moasher

تم نشره في Tue 12 April / Apr 2016. 10:24 PM
  • مروان المعشر

The regression of education in Jordan over recent decades is no longer a secret, especially now that it is threatening the social security and future of Jordan. It is not acceptable for the Government to have a 30 per cent unemployment rate among national youths, and to present no long term, concrete plan to combat and decrease this rate with the systematic construction of real job opportunities. Otherwise, we stand before a ticking time bomb periling the Country’s security, stability, and pursued prosperity and modernisation.

It is clear now that the Ministry of Education does not want to admit to the problem; no one blames themselves for their misfortunes. And that is, mind you, in spite of the evident negative indications on the products of the current educational process; the new generation’s inability to compete in local as well as regional labour marketplaces. Accordingly, competition in this sense does not suffice with the acquisition of technical skills, but requires the development of cognitive and mental capacities and approaches that enable constructive and effective problem-solving abilities and critical thinking, let alone creativity and innovation.

Even when the Ministry is confronted with curricular shortcomings, notwithstanding amendments, the err is referred to individual malpractices here and there, while the problem lies in the absence a modernised education philosophy that is inclusive of plurality and encoring of critical skills, inquisition, and reproach in terms of the curriculums themselves. Students are still taught with the predominant mind-set of dictating them what to think, rather than teaching them how to think for themselves.

The educational philosophy should not be left for the Ministry of Education to mould and formulate alone; especially now that the Ministry has fallen short of understanding pluralism in society, more or less revoking and resisting it, whether foreign or domestic.

While the earlier phases of the Arab Islamic Civilisation was nothing less than pure openness to other civilisations, particularly the Persian and Greek; and while cultural and religious differences with these civilisations did not pose a threat to the rise of the Arab civilisation itself, on the contrary, they enriched their civilisation, Europe’s, and others’. So why are we today so terrified of opening up to differences and plurality?! And in what sense do we teach our students that we alone, solely, have the solutions to all problems?!

Every time someone discusses education, the Ministry claims them, or themselves, to be amateurs. To put it bluntly, if it were professionalism within the Ministry processes that has led us to arrive in 2016 at a 30 per cent unemployment rate, then do —by all means— let the amateurs in; those veteran educationists and academics, politicians, and civil society activists; let them in. Why? Because maybe —just maybe, their scientific approaches would compensate for the exclusive “professional” discourses of the Ministry.

It is time to take this matter out of the sole hands of government —all and any government— now that it is evident there is no serious intent to fundamentally revise and review the educational philosophy and cognitive framework that govern the Ministry’s educational processes. Perhaps an integration may lead to a new modernised conceptualisation of education in Jordan.

The responsibility to progress from diagnostics to initiation lies on the shoulders of the civil society, whose duty is enlightenment of the public opinion on what really underlies our curriculums and schools. Through modern civil society organisations, armed with science, knowledge, commitment, and necessary resources to fight this battle —perhaps our most determinant battle, and surely not a brief one— this task can only be met with the support of those who fear for this Country’s future and that of its generations.

So, is there is a critical, nominal bloc of specialists who would rise up to this challenge and not hesitate to invest their time and capacities to see such a project through? Even though they will certainly be resisted and fought by the Ministry as well as by all those against modernisation and the modern productive state —as opposed reinterring? Will this group be ready to face up to all the accusations readied out for them that reflect only the bankruptcy of accusers and the latter’s terrible failures to meet up to the challenges of the era?

Establishing private schools for the financially capable segments of society is not the solution. What needs to be done is to rise with the level and quality of public education. I call upon all interested in this to come together for the realisation of a national agenda led by the civil society. There is much to be discussed about this soon.