Jordan’s broken schools: We need a School 1.0 Revolution

Linking the schools with fiber optics? Laptops in classrooms? Electronic curricula? Supposedly world-class education initiatives? ERfKE (Education Reform for the Knowledge Economy)?

Why don’t we stop bullshitting ourselves?

How about:

  • A Zero-Tolerance policy for schools without functioning bathrooms and heating?
  • A drastic raise of salaries for teachers, coupled with a ruthless evaluation of what the teachers do?
  • Sending those responsible for the foul school meals to a desert prison for a couple of months?
  • Taking a hard look at how cheap and tasteless the books for elementary classes look?

How about getting back to School 1.0 instead of claiming we are going for School 2.0.

Al-Ghad’s Ayman Al Safadi has been highlighting the broken public schooling system in Jordan in recent articles. HM Queen Rania has been making surprise visits to some schools to see for herself what is going on.

Lack of funding for public schools?

Safadi rightly notes that we are setting the country up for a disaster if things go on like this in the public schools. Frustrated, underpaid and under-trained teachers have been, for the past two decades, been put in charge of shaping the future generations of Jordan. And we’re starting to get some of the results now.. And more is still to come.

In Jordan, one cliche we always like to repeat, is that we have good human resources because of our investments in education. That might have been true in the 60’s and 70’s. And to be fair, literacy rates in Jordan are probably the highest in the Arab region. But being proud of literacy is no longer an option!

How come we still have schools where little girls have to shiver in the winter?

Everywhere we look in Amman, stuff is getting built: Bridges, tunnels, malls, villas, skyscrapers, mosques, government buildings, a new airport.. How the heck cannot be there be enough money too fix the school buildings.

Yes, we are fast approaching a brick wall. Whatever advantage we had in education has probably been already eroded. Frustrated young people, in their hundreds of thousands, are being pumped out by the public school system. What this will translate into is unemployment, extremism and generally a ‘dumber’ Jordan.

FIber optics are important. I am all for laptops. multimedia and the web in the classroom. But we have to face the brutal reality. If Jordan doesn’t start now with an extremely serious basic education revolution we are all screwed.

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23 Responses to “Jordan’s broken schools: We need a School 1.0 Revolution”

  1. adli Says:

    nice post until you quoted one of the most reviled neo-liberal ideologues. we really did not need Ayman Safadi’s divine wisdom to tell us what we have been experiencing for years and we know from our daily experience. where was Ayman Safadi when the opposition and civil society were raising a red flag years ago? he was attacking them mercilessly in his column, him and Jamil Nimri and Salah Qallab, the Three Propagandists who were busy singing the praise of the regime as our children were going to school with no windows and no heating and no books and poisoned meals. but then again, these folks don’t send their kids to public schools.

  2. Moey Says:

    Look at other arabic countries, allah y5alli el private american schools. we had all of that but the cost is freaking expensive, my school costs > my university.

  3. Dave Says:

    Hear, hear!

  4. Bilal Says:

    I totally agree.

    does this ministry ever think of at least changing ancient blackboards to white boards? or upgrade school desks that are still engraved by a generation ago?

    I have always witnessed the gap between advanced technology in Jordan and its basic literacy infrastructure. How many Jordanians own a mobile phone, know how to text in SMS, or own a luxury car yet cant browse the internet or type in a website address?

    talking about school 2.0 eh?

  5. Batir Says:

    A vivid case of not carefully selscting policy priorities. Well done Ahmad.

  6. Sid Vicious Says:

    Seriously. I honestly don’t understand how such situations could exist while we have some one who is actually supposed to be in charge. I don’t know what the heck the Minister or whoever’s in charge under him is doing (or not doing, for that matter) What is he so busy with that he can’t rectify all of this ?

  7. Ron Says:

    There are no faulty priorities. You misread the situation my friends. accumulation of wealth is the right priority for the decision-makers. you are in an arab country.

  8. joe Says:

    Sid, the minster has no money. it’s that simple. money is going to luxury, for-profit projects.

  9. Ahmad Al-Sholi Says:

    true, priorities make it or break it. But what if that was funded by some AID program? meaning that we might have this for now or nothing at all!!
    Infrastructure comes first, and thats the whole country problem at this time and not schools only. Water, electricity, sewage, roads and pavement all suffer poor maintenance programs since they were installed years or even decades ago. In addition to poor supervisory and regulating roles of the state of course in health, education, transportation system, industry, and environment. what helps the conspiracy/corruption theories are the massive funds aided externally and not being reflected in the general income/expenditure budgets announced at every year end.
    one more thing about ayman safdi is if he was a “regime” spokesman – as ugly and unfair to Jordan that may be -, if he would write about a certain topic that intersects with majority benefit and regardless of where is he coming from; it can be used to obtain momentum to that topic. Thats how democracy work as I understand it, to build up capacity to push or block.
    What Jordan misses yet is the educated youth and businessmen forming their representative bodies and tools especially being most powerful strip. Needless to say how tribal/religious/conservative groups are well stated.

  10. Sid Vicious Says:

    a case of incompetence, pure and simple.

  11. Saleem Says:

    Ahmad, Ayman Safadi does not lead opinions, he trails them and jumps on the bandwagon only after the sh*t hits the fan and only after he gets the nod. in a democracy, editors of national papers set the news agenda and take the lead and light fires and ruffle feathers. Ayman’s job is to regurgitate cliches and attack opposition and civil society and praise non-existent progress. the reason I single Al-Ghad out out because they advertise themselves as independent and liberal. they are neither. at least when you read Al-Rai you know where they stand.

    as for infrasturcture, schools are the mothers of all national infrastructure. they are the factories of the future Jordanian citizens what good is a country with fast ADSL but with scores of poorly educated citizens who can’t get jobs in the Gulf or Europe? how can jordan survive without a an educated citizenry that can compete with Syrians, Egyptian, Lebanese, Brits, Canadians in the job market. Jordan cannot afford to have “decent” schools. Jordan must have great schools. we have no other resources in this arid desert than our people. and our people have no insurance against the future but their education.

    who cares about roads and laptops and bridges and Abdali project if education is not in top shape. what’s the point of this alleged economic growth if it cant afford jordanian children TOP SCHOOLING. why do we pay such high taxes our money cannot even benefit our children?

    what we need are leaders who love Jordan more than their bank accounts and kick backs and commissions.

  12. Ahmad Al-Sholi Says:

    Saleem, I agree on most of your points but again: I do not care whether ayman safadi was coming from a Master’s Nod or a total free will, its building sides and forces for any idea to deliver or block. Even obvious good ideas got rejected in so many places of the world because it was not well lobbied, exact same that you do not care what my background is.

    However, I believe that Journalisim lost its bright in the whole world – I am not underestimating or degrading it – but it fell under media as a tool/mean/venue and shares media with movie/talk show/song/filmed programs … leveling between business and idology – not to mention idology being business sometimes -. People used to have 3 sources: Holy Book(s), Family Value, a sharp journalist in the papers giving people education and leading their minds… Its not the case anymore, he is a venue.

    Regarding corruption, no one would disagree on the side effects.

    Schools are top priorities I totally agree, but don’t you think that economical reforms creating jobs to the current unemployed comes first?

  13. Sufi Says:

    the so called economic reforms are not creating Jordanians jobs. they are creating concentrated wealth. these alleged reforms are creating jobs for expats who live in countries with lower costs of living and consider a 150 and 200 JD jobs to be a good catch. ten years ago, a 150 JD job in Jordan would have been great. not today, not with the killer inflation. so again, failed economic reforms did not boos the number of jobs that go to Jordanian. so I guess we disagree on the definition of the word “reform.” to me, growth and reforms must affect citizens positively. In Jordan, that’s not the case. but if you are a corrupt official who is making money out of this “reform” and “growth” then I guess the status quo is fine. but then again, assuming these reforms did create good jobs, and they did not, what good are those jobs if there are not qualified Jordanians to fill them? that would be a vicious circle of failure . bad schools graduate poorly educated jordanains who can’t fill good jobs. then how can you say there are economic reforms when corruption and failed state indexes show a decline? are you related to Ayman Safadi?

    to repeat another poster’s line, what’s happening in Jordan amounts to high-crimes if not high treason.

    2007 has been a vicious year for most Jordanian.

  14. Ahmad Al-Sholi Says:

    No am not related to Ayman Safadi and could not care less about his background.. if you want to filter everyone you read articles for, you will need an intelligence dept. for your own.
    -Did you hear about the Military initiative to develop work force in construction sector (private & public) it will absorb 2500 people at the first year and will go up to 30000 during the coming 3 years with full military package and ability to switch to business or remain under army?
    -Out of the 120000 workers in QIZ factories, there are 40000 Jordanians..
    -The projects that concentrate wealth is moving the economy cycle in certain aspects (Telecommunications, Media, Logistics, Hiring people,...)
    Without the reforms happening will Jordan be helped for the reddead water canel?
    -Will Jordan be granted a nuclear license to provide water and electricity?
    -Did not we have far worse mega productions before and going back to decades (JTC, JPMC, APC, RJ, JOPETROL, JOMAG, The National Company…) all before the “”“liberal era”“”
    -Don’t we all suffer from the shitty infrastructure that suffered as well from bad maintenance, if maintenance falls under the “corrupt” high officials, are junior and law ranking staff not responsible?
    -Water lack in Jordan valley and continued high water consumption agriculture despite government discouraging.
    Close to 6000 companies were initiated in Jordan from 2006 and forth -including the PLCs (just imagine how many people work in those.
    -As for the failed states index, The head of the Jordan resigned as he claims that the organization did not take the local’s office opinion.
    -Another index for corruption only showed Jordan at 34 out of 145 states – International organization as well – -Inflation is the whole world problem at the moment, the only countries that are able to match are the petrol producing and china. Suffering areas include Japan, Europe and the States, nevertheless, Foreign exchange says it better.
    -Crude Oil jumped 12 dollars this year and sure will not settle through out 2008!

  15. Ahmad Al-Sholi Says:

    I do not deny corruption at all but the image is not that dark, I believe cycle is evolving.
    In addition, a local survey showed that infront of 41% of Jordanians believe their economic level went worse this year, 27% belives it went better. 61% believe in the coming better future of Jordan.
    Results mostly came from Irbid, Zarqa, W.Amman, followed by E.Amman.

  16. Wazani Says:

    local survey? the day i believe a local or an American survey is the day i believe Jordan is a democracy. did you go to Abdoun for the survay? or did you make random calls to Ministry of Interior employees.

  17. Wazani Says:

    As for your list of “DID YOU KNOW ABOUT THIS PROJECT

    I could care less for your propaganda list. the facts on the ground and from historical experience tells me those projects either will benefit regime supporters or wealthy Jordanians.

    we have history to back us up. you have propaganda on your side and a half dozen regime sponsored newspapers and magazines to tell us something that’s goes against our personal experience and the sturied of international agenceies such as the corruption index and the failed state index. Hmmmm, now which one should I believe?

    And congrats. Soon you will have ATV telling us about how wonderful life should be.

    Fact is, i don’t remember a time when there was not some sort of a grand project that will make poverty a thing of the past. about great investments and great projects. net result, more unemployment. more poverty. more decrepit schools. Thank god for international NGOs and their annual reports without whom you would have gotten away with your lies.

    SO next time, before you show me a survey of grateful Jordanians and a list of mega projects, I want you to back it up with an international NGO report. If you can’t please spare us the propaganda. this is the 21st century and you will have to cut off the internet to keep the truth from reaching us.

    all i have to do is drive to a few public schools and as the students at random about their condition. that to me is more real than your surveys.

  18. Ahmad Al-Sholi Says:

    Negativism seems to be the spirit of these days. I never claimed democracy and I did not deny corruption, poverty, or unemployment. But I do not select facts to believe in and deny others. I stated facts and was defending achievements, you just do not want to believe a survey because its jordanian!! whats that???????????
    1.The corruption International report showed Jordan better 11 ranks: 45 to 34.
    2.The Jordanian Manager of the failed state index resigned as he said their office did not take the input given by the local office.

    *Enjoy the internet :)

  19. X Says:

    “But I do not select facts to believe in and deny others.”

    of course I have to reject the survey because it’s Jordanian when it comes to painting a rosy picture of the sad state of affairs in Jordan. the survey has to be impartial and international to be more credible.

    But going back to your list of accomplishment that you accuse me of ignoring. I could care less if we have two new skyscrapers in Amman when the price is 1000s of uneducated, poor Jordanian children, and higher taxes, and government deficit. sky scrappers are not a national priority.

    Your “success stories” were paid for by so many consequential failures. that’s why I refuse to acknowledge your list of accomplishments as something worth celebrating.

    In a poor country such as jordan, bad and corrupt policy making is a zero-sum game. few will get rich, but as a result others lose their only shot at a happy, dignified life. it’s hard to break out from the cycle of poverty. but it’s easy to get into it.

    when government plays an active role in impoverishing its citizens for the benefit of its loyalists, and when citizens cannot do anything about it because of the despotic nature of the regime, one is obliged to at least speak out. but you seem more obsessed with image than with substance.

    you call it negativism, I call it harsh reality.

  20. Ezz Says:

    This just in. Jordanian government has dropped a couple of notches on the Ease of Setting up a Business index. This setback comes at a time when the Jordanian government poorly on the corruption index and the failed state index.

    Yup, it’s the Jordanian Government Waltz: one step forward, two steps back. One step forward, three steps back.


  21. Ahmad Al-Sholi Says:

    I swear I agree with you..

    When did I mention that skyscrapers are an accomplishment by itself?

    However, everyone believes what ones like.


  22. fatima Says:

    i am student who is collecting information about the public schools and private schools in jordan. i would like to recieve information or resources about the topic. if you can help me, i realy appreciated. it is a research paper.

  23. Ahmad Khaled Says:

    I am a friend of Ayman Safadi. And I am writing in response to the opinions some of the commentators posted. I wonder how some people find it easy to attack people with no grounds. One of them says ayman safadi writes agains ngos and civil society. i would like the writer to show us where. Safadi’s articles are posted on alghad website. He has repeatedly wrote in favour of freedom and reform. the fact that he worked ofr the government in the past does not make him undemocratic. people shpuld be judged by what they do not on the basis of ideological opinions. it seems some of the commentators here just want to condemn on the basis of their anti government stands. Hpw do they know that a safadi received a nod when he wrote about education when he was criticising the offical dome and showing the failure of its policies on education. he wrote many colums on the subject and in most of them he was urging reform that will allow political space at univeristies and a decision to have democratic students councils elections. I believe ayman safadi has consitantly written in favour of reform and did the same in his tv appearances. And for those who attack with no grounds i just say check before you attack and for readers i say go back to safadi;s artciles and then you can make your own judgement.

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