AMMAN — His Majesty King Abdullah on Monday urged young Jordanians to participate in the upcoming parliamentary elections, stressing that the youth, who represent the largest segment of the population, should exercise their role to lead the reform process and effect the envisioned change.
“You, the youth, have the responsibility to hold coming legislatures and parliamentary governments to account, judging them by the degree of their commitment to implementing their electoral platforms to address the problems and challenges you face,” King Abdullah said in his address at a ceremony marking the 50th anniversary of the University of Jordan.
The King said young Jordanians can take part in the decision making in the country by spreading awareness of the vitality of change, and identifying and debating the problems and challenges they face in the context of a national dialogue with political parties and forces, civil society and constitutional institutions.
“The aim is to work out solutions that should be incorporated in programmes to be voted on in the upcoming parliamentary elections,” said the Monarch (see official translation of the speech).
His Majesty said the youth are the key engine that drives the development process and the vehicle and purpose of development.
“Therefore, we should continue investing in the youth through education and training to equip them with skills and expertise that make them creative and allow them to excel,” he noted.
At the ceremony, the King announced an initiative for democratic development under the umbrella of the King Abdullah II Fund for Development (see story on page 3).
The plan, he said, is designed to promote dialogue, encourage civil participation and achieve sustainable political development by focusing on youth empowerment.
The Monarch added that the role of young people should not be limited to the campus.
“Their talents and energy should be harnessed to effect positive change across the board and reflect in political participation that enables them to take part in decision making to build a better future for them and the future generations,” said the King.
His Majesty added that the achievements made as part of Jordan’s reform process are but the first chapter in a long series of changes, noting that the accomplishments made so far serve as solid foundation for the entire reform process.
He also stressed that the success of this process hinges on the awareness of citizens, who are required to actively take part in political and partisan action.
Such participation would take the country to the stage of parliamentary governments, he said, where people will be able to play a key and direct part in decision making by selecting the most qualified persons to represent them in the coming parliament.
In his address, King Abdullah urged universities to focus on the quality of higher education and shoulder their responsibility to help build cultural and democratic awareness and enhance students’ collective identity based on the principles of citizenship and equality in rights and obligations.
“Their job [universities] is not limited to the academic and educational aspects. It is their responsibility to help shape cultural and democratic awareness, enhance collective national identity based on the principles of citizenship and equality in rights and duties,” said the King.
“They are expected to design programmes for higher education and vocational and technical education to meet the requirements of globalisation and the labour market,” he said.
In addition, higher education institutions should create an atmosphere of fruitful and continuous cooperation with the private and public sectors and civil society, the Monarch added.
King Abdullah emphasised that Jordanians have overcome difficult conditions through resolve and sacrifices and succeeded in building a country whose achievements are applauded by everyone.
Jordan, he said, has been a pioneer in several fields, especially education and healthcare, and has been playing a leading and prominent role in defending Arab and Islamic causes.
His Majesty said he is proud of citizens who take pride in their Jordanian identity and put the interests of their country before any other interests or considerations.
“A true Jordanian, at times of crisis and difficulties for the country, transcends in dignity and faithfulness above any other personal, partisan or regional interest and stands by his/her country as it rises to overcome the challenges,” said the King.
“A true Jordanian draws strength from the homeland, rather than trying to overpower the country or seize the opportunity to incite others against it.”
He added that a true Jordanian does not accept any agenda other than that serving his/her country and the ambitions and sacrifices of Jordanians.
Also at the ceremony, UJ President Ekhlief Al Tarawneh outlined the university’s achievements over the past 50 years and its plans for the near future.
Referring to the university’s stem cell centre, Tarawneh said the centre completed a series of research in this field and played a key role in treating patients suffering from various diseases using stem cells technology.
The university’s Centre for Strategic Studies is also working on a pioneering project to put scenarios for the situation in Jordan in 2030 at the social, political and economic levels.
The studies, he said, will be made available for decision makers to help in the decision-making process and help realise sustainable development at different levels.
Tarawneh added that the university is in the process of finalising a strategy for 2013-2018 to boost its status among world-renowned universities.
Prior to the ceremony, the King opened the new headquarters of the Levant documents, manuscripts and studies centre that was created in 1972.
HRH Prince Feisal and several senior officials and public and academic figures attended the ceremony.
At the end of the celebration, King Abdullah honoured former and current presidents of the university’s boards of trustees as well as former university presidents.