By Abdullah II ibn Al Hussein15 April 2017
Education has lately been the subject of heated global debate. It has been heartening to see this trend pick up in our part of the world, Jordan in particular.I believe this discussion bodes well, since it signifies a widespread awareness of the importance of this issue, and rightly so, since education is key to nation-building and improving our world, at a time of a global race to realise knowledge economies and invest in human resources.We cannot keep up with the rapid developments of this era without utilising its novel knowledge tools and latest technologies.Within that context, we must comprehensively address the urgent challenges facing our education sector to overcome them effectively and arrive at a modern education system—pivotal to building the future we seek. The implementation of the recommendations of the National Committee for Human Resources Development is an integral part of the process.Investing in Our Children, Investing in Our FutureOur people are our most valuable asset. Armed with a modern, quality education, Jordanians will become agents of change. To that end, we must ardently invest in education. It is the most rewarding investment, and I firmly believe that every Jordanian is entitled to an opportunity to pursue a good education, excel and realise his or her highest potential.In their pursuit of unlimited knowledge and excellence, Jordanians must remain confident, determined and open to all cultures, embracing shared values.This vision is only attainable if we are united—people, government, and public and private institutions—working together to ensure an enabling environment and meet the needs to build capacities through an effective education system that delivers, and is led by men and women from across the Jordanian spectrum.Our Path to a Prosperous FutureEducational institutions must believe in the immense energies, promising capabilities, and diverse talents of our youth. They should seek to cultivate and channel these qualities, driving young men and women to unleash their potential.Therefore, modern teaching methods should be adopted to encourage critical and deductive thinking, rather than rote learning. Moreover, these methods should combine theory and practice, field and classroom, as well as analysis and planning. Such an educational system would widen horizons for our youth, so that they can excel in every art, profession, or craft.We cannot allow fear of change nor reluctance to embrace modernisation and scientific advancement to waste the vast potential of our tremendous human resources. We will not tolerate miring this strategic sector and the future of Jordanians in petty politicking and narrow interests; this is an alarming path, for education must rise above all such issues if we are to continue with our reform and development endeavours to create a better present and future.History stands as testament to the necessity and inevitability of change. Those who tried to oppose it have failed time and time again.Jordanians are known as champions of modernisation and progress in our Arab world, who lean forward and take ownership and initiative. We are innovators, pioneers and changemakers, proud of our rich Arabic and Islamic heritage, which rejects discord and division. Constantly seeking renewal, we draw inspiration from and reflect on our history to learn from it and create a better tomorrow instead of remaining tied to the past.In this modern, high-tech age, education cannot be reduced to reading and writing; it goes way beyond that to encompass mastering computer and Internet literacy, major international languages, communication skills, professional work ethics, critical thinking and analytical skills. Once they gain these abilities, students will be able to produce knowledge and contribute to progress, heeding the teachings of the Holy Quran: “O my Lord! advance me in knowledge.”We have been blessed with a rich language, deep-rooted heritage and noble values. For our students to fully appreciate and experience that heritage, mastering Arabic is a must. It is the language of the Holy Quran and the Ummah’s unifying tongue. It shapes their culture and defines their episteme.Jordan: Beacon of Science and KnowledgeWe aspire towards a strong Jordan that arms its children with the finest education to empower them to take on the challenges ahead, launching successful businesses, practising impactful crafts, starting loving families, and building a cohesive society.We seek a Jordan that takes its rightful place among the countries leading educational transformation. Our gate to the future lies in building capacities through quality education and excellent graduates.Education is an effective tool to transcend differences and build common ground to spread tolerance and understanding, and shun bigotry and extremism. There can be no comprehensive reform without an educational transformation.We want Jordan to lead the way in modernising education in the Arab world, encouraging others to follow in its footsteps towards a knowledge-based society. Reforming education is a challenge before us all, and expertise exchange among Arab countries will help us take on this challenge.Our schools, vocational training centres, and universities should graduate great thinkers, talented craftspeople, and productive individuals.Schools should identify students’ interests, harness their talents, and build their capacities. Schools should be incubators of change, graduating students after equipping them with the skills to face challenges and build Jordan’s bright future. Schools should graduate students who know how to think, how to learn, how to seize opportunities, and how to develop innovative problem-solving skills.This calls for a modern educational system that expands students’ horizons, teases their curiosity, and bolsters their sense of self-worth to assume their role as global citizens rooted in their Arab and Islamic identity, and heritage.For this to come to fruition, it is vital to have curricula that instil critical and analytical thinking, pushing students to ask questions and weigh various opinions, and encouraging them to respect different views by pursuing the culture of dialogue and diversity—all the while guided by capable teachers who are qualified to raise future generations.It is indeed heartening to contribute to this vibrant debate on how best to educate our daughters and sons and to empower our human resources. This decisive issue lies at the core of our nation’s future, and a healthy discussion is a sign of awareness that I fully support, and I look forward to seeing it culminate into tangible reforms and outcomes. We must all work together as one—students, teachers, parents, and institutions—to reach our goal. Every day offers an opportunity for our youth to fulfil their potential; let us seize it and grant them what they deserve.