Introduction & Background
The industrial base of the Jordanian economy is still limited, so the Jordanian economy is dominated by the trade and services sectors. Jordan's basic social and economical infrastructure is the best asset in the Middle East (ETF, 2005); Jordan lacks natural resources but is rich with human resources (UNESCO, 2008). As a result of its limited natural resources, Jordan recognized that developing a trained workforce is the only way it could compete in the global knowledge economy (World Bank, 2006). This requires changing the Jordanian economy from a resource-based into a knowledge-based economy. In a 2008 UNESCO report, Jordan is described as a natural location in the Middle East for knowledge-based industries.
If Jordan is to enter the competitive, global knowledge economy, it must develop its educational system (World Bank, 2008). Plans for educational development in Jordan began nationally in the mid1980s, beginning with an inclusive review of the educational system. These places stemmed from the idea that the human element is the best resource to fuel comprehensive social and economical development. The First Educational Reform Conference, held in 1987, was a major milestone in educational development in Jordan. The Conference devised the Educational Reform Plan, which was divided into two phases, the first from 1989 to 1995, and the second from 1996 to 1999. The Plan included seven educational development projects, namely (a) curriculum reconstruction; (b) textbook development; (c) teacher and supervisory staff training; (d) educational technology; (e) constructing and equipping new schools; (f) vocational education and training; and (g) educational research and development. The total cost of the plan was USD 40 million, and it was funded by a loan from the World Bank (UNESCO, 2008). The most important outcome of the Educational Reform Plan was the new education law No. 3/1994, which required the following changes:
1. Upgraded compulsory education from nine years to 10.
2. Restructured the educational system into three phases: a pre-school of two years, basic education of 10 years, and secondary education of two years. In addition, curricula were to be updated and required qualifications of teachers and principals were increased (World Data on Education, 2012).
In 2002, Jordan formulated and signed a vision for and mission of the educational sector. In 2003, Jordan set up an ambitious plan, the Educational Reform for Knowledge Economy (ERfKE). This project aims to redirect educational policies and programs to cope with the needs of the knowledge-based economy and to improve the learning environment for preschool education, basic education, and secondary education, with the goal of producing graduates having the essential skills for entering the era of the knowledge economy (World Bank, 2006). The first stage of the project, ERfKE1, extended from 2003 to 2008 at a cost of USD 380 million; the second stage began in 2009 and will extend to 2014 at a cost of USD 60 million (ETF, 2010).
Currently, the educational system in Jordan consists of three stages:
1. Pre-school education, which is for two years (KG1 and KG2) for kids aged 4 to 5 years.
2. Basic education, which lasts for ten years (Grades 1 to 10) for students of age 6 to 15 years. This education is compulsory under the law.
3. Secondary education of two years (Grades 11 and 12) for students from 16 to 18 years old. This education is not compulsory, but it is free in public schools.
Secondary education divides into two streams. The first stream is academic secondary education, comprising five branches: science, literature, health education, information technology, and religion. The second stream is vocational secondary education, comprising four branches: industry, agriculture, hotel and catering, and home economics. Either stream of secondary education, both academic and vocational, requires obtaining the General Secondary Education Certificate (GSEC), which qualifies a graduate to enter the higher-education phase in community colleges or universities. …