The Impact of a Mandated Educational Reform Program on Jordanian Teachers' Work Lives

Article excerpt

Introduction

In Jordan, the education landscape has undergone considerable change over the last 25 years or so. JERP gave teachers more work by simultaneously requiring them to master new teaching methods, new student evaluation methods, and new technical concepts (Tawalbeh, 2001). During the last 20 years, educational authorities throughout the world have charged teachers with more educational responsibilities both in school and outside of the school. On the other hand, many agents of education, such as families and religious institutions, who in the past made important contributions to the social, moral, and civic education of young people, have limited considerably their former, valuable activities (Stotsky, 1999). To sum up, change in the workplace has affected teachers' beliefs, attitudes, and practice.

Teachers play key roles in education reforms as the agents of change that work directly with students in the classroom (Datnow, 2000; Richards, 2002; Zeichner & Ndimande, 2008; Vongalis-Macrow, 2010). As Fullan (1991) explains, "We need to first focus on how teachers make sense of the mandates and policies because there will be no educational reform until after teachers interpret the policies and make decisions based on their beliefs about the new demands" (p. 12).

Jordanian Educational Reform Program (JERP)

Education reform in Jordan is a part of the so- called "worldwide reform movement". As a country with limited natural resources, Jordan has long standing policy of human resources investment to develop Jordanian society, through the provision of education. The investment in education to develop Jordan has served Jordan well for many decades. However, the impact of economic recession in the late of eighties, and the increasing requirement to use technology in all aspect of life has contributed to the need for comprehensive reform of education. Jordan was dissatisfied with its education system and there was a strong motivation to change. Therefore, Jordanian government carried out a series of education reform initiatives to modernize education provision since 1987, when first national reform conference was held. According to the education reform program, MOE will work for democratization of education, promoting democratic practice stemming from decentralization, delegation authority, participation in decision-making, and students' councils and committees. Moreover, one of the major components of the program is curriculum reform, which calls for profound changes in the established methods and approaches to work. The underlying process of this is a transition from the prevailing conception of instructions as transmission of knowledge toward interactive, student oriented instruction aimed at quality learning. This demands a change in the focus of the teacher's role transition from the teacher who transfers content to a teacher who encourages quality learning and plans a good learning environment. In addition to improving general examination, including school test, by upgrading testing program, so as to make it reflect new technologies, draw more on higher order thinking skills, and put forward a new program that helps school and local communities to work together.

In response to JERP, teachers must acquire new knowledge, skills attitude, and assume more responsibilities to improve the quality of their teaching. They should work hard to create a suitable learning climate enabling their students to reflect personal experience and discuss openly in the classroom. The reform plan, as such, puts more emphasis on upgrading teachers' qualification and academic knowledge through certification program, offered by three public universities. In terms of teachers' status, the MOE designed strategies to improve teachers' status through such incentives, such as special allowance, housing fund, teachers' club, good furniture for teachers' lounge rooms, medals, and the celebration of a Teacher Day. …