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A wake-up call

May 15,2017 - Last updated at May 15,2017

On the whole, Jordanians are proud of their educational system. For decades, graduates of Jordanian universities found it easy to get jobs in the Gulf.

It was not hard, therefore, to notice that Jordanians had a kind of competitive edge over other Arab graduates, thanks to the solid educational system.

Things have changed, though.

Over the last decade, Jordanian graduates have lost their competitive advantage and it is no longer easy for them to get jobs in the Gulf.

Some even describe some as “unemployable”, as they lack the skills necessary to match the changing requirement of the market.

While the number of graduates reached unprecedented level, the quality of graduates is below the bar.

Convinced that education is the key for a better future, Jordanian families have been sending their daughters and sons to universities.

Many of those families sold their land or took loans from the banks to support their children’s quest for high education. 

But many set themselves up for a disappointment.

Graduates have a difficult time finding jobs. The unemployment rate has reached alarming figures.

Besides, a majority of the graduates lack the required skills.

This poses a huge problem. Often a Ph.D. graduate from Jordanian universities is unemployable even in Gulf universities, which highly depend on recruiting professors from abroad.

From my own modest experience working for a university in the Gulf, I noticed that Jordanian professors, who are lucky to get jobs in the Gulf, are those who graduate from Western countries. Rarely have I met a professor who graduated from Jordanian universities.

I am not in the business of pointing fingers to blame someone for this unforeseen failure. But there must be a revision process of the education sector in the country. 

We should not just ignore the deteriorating situation of schools in Jordan. 

Many of those who finish high school and pursue university studies have difficulty reading and writing. I would not say that they are illiterate, but their reading and writing skills are way below the bar.

I think the first step should be directed at schools in early stages.

A revision of the curriculum is a must.

The government needs to put forward a plan to retrain teachers who contribute, in no small amount, to the current situation.

Short of retraining the teachers, we run the risk of recycling the same setbacks.

Therefore, change should not involve only the curriculum to encourage critical thinking, but also teachers.

There is a need of a national strategy for the next two decades to which if we adhere we can expect Jordanians to restore their once undisputed competitive edge.

Education makes a huge difference for the country and the people. But it takes more than desire and statements.

It takes all stakeholders in the society to support a new strategy, provided it has some benchmarks against which we can measure success.

We do not have much time and it is better to start today rather than tomorrow, otherwise we will be left out of a region that offers many opportunities.



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