Top-notch tools and opportunities in new Jordan schools

By Maggie Farrand

January 2, 2014

(from right to left) U.S. Ambassador to Jordan, Stuart Jones; Jordanian Minister of Education, Dr. Mohammad Thneibat; USAID Mission Director, Beth Paige; and the Jordanian Minister of Public Works and Housing, Eng. Sami Halaseh inaugurate the Aisha Al Ba’ouneya Mixed Basic School. (© U.S. Embassy in Jordan)

School children in Irhaba, Jordan, now have access to top-notch facilities and more educational opportunities with the opening of the newly constructed Aisha Al Ba’ouneya Mixed Basic School.

U.S. Ambassador to Jordan Stuart Jones joined Minister of Education Dr. Mohammad Thneibat, Minister of Public Works Eng. Sami Halaseh and U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Mission Director Beth Paige for the Dec. 3 inauguration of the brand new elementary school, located some 80km north of Jordan’s capital, Amman.

“I’m very pleased today to be part of this event, celebrating the opening of Aisha Al Ba’ouneya Mixed Basic School,” said Ambassador Jones. “This school was designed in partnership with the Ministry of Education, and represents a new vision for providing quality education to Jordan students.”

Paige says the construction of new schools like Aisha Al Ba’ouneya will ensure children receive a high quality education with modern and fully equipped facilities

“This is one of 11 schools that USAID completed last year,” she reported. “It’s all going to result in better educational opportunities for the children of Jordan.”

In the last three years, Creative Associates International’s Education Reform Support Program (ERSP), which the agency funds, has provided valuable technical assistance to teachers and leaders at these newly constructed schools.

Pledging additional support

In a grand gesture of support to Jordan and its ongoing educational reforms, Paige and Ambassador Jones used the Dec. 3 school inauguration ceremony to announce a $235 million pledge to improve basic education, teacher training and school infrastructure over the next five years.

The additional funding will also provide assistance to vulnerable youth to keep them in school and provide them with vocational training that will prepare for them for a productive life.

Ambassador Jones, Paige, Halaseh and Thneibat all signed the funding deal during the school inauguration event, pledging to expand the unique education model demonstrated at Aisha Al Ba’ouneya to other public schools in Jordan.

The ambassador commended the collaboration between the Ministry of Education and USAID, which he said was “a reflection of the strong and long-lasting relationship between the US and Jordanian people.”

A glimpse at the new school

While the infrastructure matters, it is the new approach to teaching and learning that is truly transformational: The new schools, with ERSP’s assistance, have created healthy and functional learning environments where educators make effective use of space and resources, technology is employed in teaching and learning, communities are involved and feel a sense of ownership and students direct their own learning.

Teaching and learning within these schools represent a functional blend of elements including infrastructure, resources, qualified instructors and improved educational practices.

Creative’s program continues to provide support throughout the school year – a total of three semesters – offering a robust professional development program to principals, teachers and students; initiating school-wide activities and procedure; and involving community members in school events and decisions.

Together with Jordan’s Ministry of Education, ERSP has created a professional development course for teachers and principals, improved early childhood education and a created a robust repository of school data in order to achieve the country’s national education reforms.

The program has already benefited more than 20,000 students and nearly 2,000 educators and staff.

The inauguration event at Aisha Al Ba’ouneya Mixed Basic School began with a full tour of the school, where visitors had the opportunity to interact with teachers and students.

Paige and Ambassador Jones walked through the new computer labs, classrooms and library, greeted in each room by smiling students who proudly showed off new books in the library and new microscopes in the science lab.

Several modern features of the school were especially exciting for students who had never had access to such resources before. Teachers and students were most excited about the many high-tech features they will now have access to.

“What distinguishes this school from others is the expansive facilities and modern high-quality equipment,” says Dr. Fadia Amawi, school principal.

Computer and science labs, for example, are rarely available in other Jordanian schools. Nor is the robust array of textbooks, literature and reference material now available to students at Aisha Al Ba’ouneya in their revamped library.

With the activities under ERSP plus support from USAID, schools in Jordan can continue to improve the quality of education, and provide vulnerable youth with skills and hope for the future.

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