Education Decentralized projects Crams Jordanian Students
19 August 2021
Government Controls Without Execution
August 19, 2021
Faa District High School for Girls
Before the outbreak of the Covid pandemic, ninth grader Nuha, 15 years old, had to transfer to the ‘Muketefa’ High School which lies 4 kilometers away from her hometown of ‘Um Al Quttain’, part of the Eastern Desert region of Al Mafraq governorate, as a result of overcrowding in her school and its proximity to the boys school nearby.
According to her father, Nuha found it difficult to focus during classes at her high school in ‘Um Al Quttain’, as she had to sit in a overcrowded 35 students classroom, missing out on all the benefits of face-to face instruction. Nuha’s family felt they had no choice but to pay the daily transportation cost of JD 5 for their daughter’s trip to and from ‘Muketefa’ High School due to the lack of public transport system in their area.
Several months later, specifically on March 5th, 2020, and before the pandemic lockdown, the former Minister of Education, Tayseer Al Nuaimi, paid the region of Al-Badia a visit, during which he pledged to resolve all problems of overcrowded classes. This was after complaints made by ‘Um Al Quttain’ school headmistress Nour Abu Aleem about overcrowded classroom at a school with over 1000 students learning in grades 1-12.Um Al Quttain School
After one semester, and at the start the following academic year 2020-2021, the school was divided into two schools, separated by a metal fence, without adding any extra classrooms or facilities.
The City Council of Al Mafraq allocated JD 100 thousand (approximately $140 thousands dollars) from its 2018 budget to add 4 classrooms in the school. But this and many other projects never saw the light of day as they required a list of approvals from the Ministry of Education.
Headmistress Abu Aleem says that the solution proposed by (Ex Minister) Al-Nuaimi relieved some of the pressure on the school’s playground and several facilities, but did not solve the problem of overcrowded classrooms in the high school building, although the area behind the school had ample room for (building) more classrooms.
The school’s 25 classrooms used to accommodate 1000 students. After its premises were divided, the high school’s 13 classrooms had to accommodate 450 students for grades 7-12, with a capacity of 30–40 students per classroom.
Despite the urgent need to solve this problem to meet ‘parental demands’, Abu Aleem says that the ministry made no mention of the proposed project to add extra classrooms.
In the meantime, a report issued by Jordan’s Department of Statistics stated that the country’s average number of students per classroom in 2019 reached 27 students in public schools and 19 students in private schools.
The school of ‘Um Al Quttain’, like many 45 others in the region was earmarked for further development to add extra classrooms, but only 8 such projects were executed in the past three years according to Al-Mafraq governorate’s City Council.Um Al Quttain School
The Root of the Problem
In 2018, Al Mafraq’s City Council decided to allocate JD 5 million ($7 millions dollars) from its budget for education development projects approving the establishment of 16 new schools, and the addition of extra classrooms to several schools in the governorate.
This was the first budget to be prepared by the newly elected City Council in August, 2017. The budget was due to be handed over within 20 days, hence the council called on the help of all government directorates, excluding municipalities, to identify needed projects and budgets for the council to examine and approve.
Abdulla Ghosheh, from the Jordan Engineers Association says that a period of 15 -20 days is not enough to conduct a feasibility study for the establishment of a new school or the addition of more classrooms, as such studies require at least 45 days to complete project exploration, preliminary studies, implementation plans and finally licensing.
2018 ended without completing any projects or adding any classrooms. Maintenance work was carried out in 180 schools at a total cost not exceeding JD 100 thousand. The remaining funds were transferred to the General Budget since it had not been utilized by the concerned executive authority which is the Ministry of Education, according to the head of the council’s financial committee, Khaled Al Husban.
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