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MENAFN - Jordan Times - 20/04/2017
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(MENAFN - #Jordan Times) Ageneral lack of transparency, accountability and public knowledge of the legal and policy framework is the main challenge for Jordan's education system, a recent study conducted by Arab Renaissance for Democracy and Development (ARDD) and the Norwegian research institute Fafo showed.

This challenge makes it difficult for the public to be aware of its rights when it comes to education.

Other challenges are lack of proper induction for new school staff, lack of parental involvement, lack of awareness about legal duties amongst teachers and constant reshuffling of ministers at the Ministry of #Education and lack of communication between departments.

This has clearly undermined the implementation of the #Education Law.

The study comes at a time education seems high on the national agenda.

Last Saturday, in his seventh Discussion Paper, His Majesty King Abdullah stressed the need to make comprehensive efforts to address the challenges facing education, which is 'pivotal to building the future we seek', a future in which #Jordan 'takes its rightful place among the countries leading educational transformation'.

Another challenge, the study shows, remains the ongoing Syrian conflict that further hindered progress in reforming the education sector in Jordan.

Based on figures published by the Jordanian government in 2016, Syrian refugees residing in the Kingdom amount to around 1.2 million, of which over 658,000 are registered with UNHCR.

This has resulted in an 875 per cent increase of Syrian children enrolled in public schools in the school year 2015-2016.

During the last school year, over 140,000 Syrian students were enrolled, compared to almost 17,000 in 2011-2012.

Due to this influx, an estimated 200 double-shift schools were opened to accommodate the Syrian children.

The study echoes previous findings showing how this has not only impacted the quality of education but also negatively affected th infrastructure of schools.

The study saw a positive relationship between decentralisation, accountability and ownership over the educational process among stakeholders.

Indeed, #Jordan is currently undergoing a transitional phase towards a more decentralised style of governance.

The Decentralisation Law was ratified in 2015 and possible decentralisation measures are being reviewed by Parliament.

'But despite the Ministry of Education's commitment to transition towards a more decentralised model of governance, there are still no concrete results on the ground. Centralisation of decision making and the top-down approach to formulating policies, laws and regulations without the consultation of relevant stakeholders remain some of the main challenges schools and communities face,' the study found.

Decentralising the school system to an extent will provide the means to achieve meaningful community participation, in the form of school councils.

They can play a key role in promoting a culture of accountability.

Increased accountability for school managements and stakeholders must become part of the education reform process.

In addition, there is a positive relationship between children's performance and parents' follow up on their children's homework.

Improving parents' and community involvement in all aspects of school policy will have a positive influence on the quality of education children receive.

To support organisations working in the education sector in Jordan, ARDD and Fafo conducted the study as part of a two-year project in the governorate of Mafraq.

Among others, visits to 40 schools were undertaken and individual group interviews were conducted with children, parents, teachers and other stakeholders.

The writer is media and communication officer at ARDD. She contributed this article to The #Jordan Times.

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