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Jordan

Jordan MapWe’re now in Jordan, officially know as the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, an Arab kingdom in the Middle East. Geographically it’s on the East Bank of the River Jordan extending to Palestine bordering Saudi Arabia to the south and east, Iraq to the north-east, Syria to the north and Israel to the east where it shares control of the Dead Sea (which if time permits we hope to visit and take a float!).

 

Arriving at 4am, from Singapore via a stop over at Abu Dhabi, today was a bit of rest day and orientation where I’ve been introduced to the delights of Turkish coffee (delicious), Backgammon (which I haven’t played for years) and strawberry flavoured sheesha – all of which I could get used to. The people we’ve met here are amongst the friendliest we’ve met on our travels so far with a genuine pleasure that we are here. I was even welcomed on arrival at the airport by a local character who exclaimed “lovely jubbly” an expression of English origin which I haven’t heard in a long time.

 

We’re here to visit and learn about the Jordan Education Initiative (JEI), a non-profit organisation established under Her Majesty Queen Rania, whose objective is to foster and maintain partnerships that launch multi-million dollar initiatives that have a strong impact on the modernisation of education within the nation that contribute to the development of the local private sector in ICT and professional development. Collaborative by nature the programme tracks within JEI concentrates on  Research and Innovation, Expansion and International Outreach.

 

The JEI was conceived at the Annual Meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland in January 2003, when the Governors of IT and Telecommunications agreed to sponsor an initiative for education reform in a developing country. Jordan was chosen as the pilot country and was challenged with developing a proposal “of significant scope and size” that would catalyze a process of change and create value that transcends its borders. The JEI was formally launched at the Extraordinary Meeting of the World Economic Forum at the Dead Sea, Jordan in June 2003.

 

Relevant use of technology is at the centre of developments within the JEI programme as they implement Discovery Schools that serve as test beds to attract and pilot further innovations in education. After successful piloting JEI works through an expansion phase to scale up working models within the Jordanian education system. Innovations are intended to be shared with other nations as part of JEI’s international outreach programmes.

 

After 10 years since inception the Learning {RE}imagined team is here to learn what has been achieved.

 

Jordan has, of course, been in the international spotlight as a host country for Syrian refugees of which more than 500,000 of the 2 million have sought refuge in Jordan. This humanitarian crisis inevitably requires an enormous amount of resources to sustain where half of the refugee population are children of which two-thirds are now out of school. When one considers as Nobel Prize winning economist Amartya Sen points out that education is an essential human capability that is integral to the overall well-being of a person this children are at significant risk. Education serves a variety of practical purposes in addition to gaining skills and knowledge for future endeavours. Children in schools are at a decreased risk for military recruitment, sexual violence, disease, crime and substance abuse. The structure of education provides a vital sense of normalcy for children living in refugee camps providing them with a break from the tedium of everyday life. In essence, society either pays now or pays later and it is my belief that these kids need a break when the world around them is shattered.

 

I’m looking forward to learning a great deal whilst I am in Jordan, I sense that some of it will be difficult for me as I will be as far out of my comfort zone as I have ever been but in a sense that is what this journey is about.

 

You can follow our live updates via Twitter and Instagram and I will report back here in the next few days.