Jordan: Education Policy in Transition

By Chinnery, Julie | Forced Migration Review, March 2019 | Go to article overview

Jordan: Education Policy in Transition


Chinnery, Julie, Forced Migration Review


In most cases the best way to transition from a humanitarian to a development response is not immediately clear. Although the education sector has produced guidelines that outline the process for drafting transitional plans in "crisis-affected and challenging situations",1 in many contexts the capacity and coordination of sector stakeholders (including the government, donors and international and local practitioners) to collectively identify and agree on the needs and the best ways forward remain a challenge, resulting in some key elements of this transition period being overlooked.

In relation to this transition in Jordan, the key approach of the education sector was initially based on a strategic plan with a humanitarian framework but is now based on a clearly development-focused plan. The initial plan (the chapter on education in the Jordan Response Plan, JRP2) was drafted by the Ministry of Education in collaboration with national and international humanitarian partners. The new plan (the Ministry of Education's national Education Strategic Plan 2018-2022, ESP3) was drafted by the Ministry with limited consultation with other actors. The transition from the first to the second plan has been relatively abrupt, and insufficient attention has been paid to what occurs during the period in between the two plans - where we are now. As such, needs that were highlighted in the first plan persist but the newer plan does not address how to continue to meet these.

In addition, there are differences in how the two documents define certain key terms. For example, the target group of the JRP education chapter is identified largely as 'children, adolescents and youth'. When humanitarian operations started, the rationale was that all children had the potential to be in the formal education system, whether in formal school, vocational training or higher education, and thus in effect all children came under the remit of the Ministry of Education. However, as the crisis has become protracted, and nationallevel education priorities and policies have changed, the rhetoric in the response has narrowed from children to schoolchildren, thus clearly including only those who are already inside the Ministry of Education system, which comprises formal, nonformal, higher and one stream of vocational education; informal and other forms of vocational education fall outside this system.

Vulnerable groups

As a result, it is those children who are outside the system that are the most vulnerable. They fall into two categories. Firstly, some children remain outside the system because of reasons such as family poverty (which may result in child labour or early marriage). This group largely comprises adolescents and includes vulnerable Jordanians. The needs of this group used to be a core concern of the education sector but they no longer receive a similar level of attention; meanwhile, responsibility for this group has not been clearly transferred to the ESP (or to any other sector or line ministry). These adolescents are at risk of falling off the national agenda altogether unless another government ministry directly assumes responsibility for them. This could potentially be the Ministry of Social Development, although its capacity to cover these additional needs is not clear. This leaves these children at risk of having no educational options and limited protection.

The second category at risk is those who are pursuing certified non-formal education programmes. These children currently have two nationally accredited options: one for 9-12-year-olds and one for boys aged 13-18 and girls aged 13-20. These non-formal options were noted in the JRP but, without Ministry of Education capacity to run either programme, their implementation was outsourced to sector partners. Although the needs of this group appear in the new response plan, the lack of ESP capacity means that they are not prioritised. Furthermore, pupils following these programmes are excluded from following the upper years of study that are required to complete certified higher education. …

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