In its most recent Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study, published in 2015, the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement (IAE) reported that ICT is essential for the development of a knowledge economy. The IAE highlighted Jordan as a regional model for the use of ICT in education, despite the newness of many initiatives.
The IAE reports that most schools in Jordan have high-speed internet access. Students and teachers at ICT-enabled schools benefit from technology as a learning tool, with many students accessing learning materials via the Ministry of Education’s (MoE) online portal – covering science, maths, English and ICT – while professional development courses for teachers are increasingly focused on technology. The MoE has also provided growing levels of financial support to create knowledge centres in schools, offering seating and study areas, as well as access to news media, computer software, audio and video equipment, CDs and DVDs.
Although e-learning adoption within public education remains limited at present, the Jordan Economic Growth Plan 2018-22 emphasises digital uptake in education, including updating systems, encouraging digital education environments, promoting mobile application development targeting education and supporting ICT pilot projects in the sector. Education is identified as a key area enabling digital economic growth, and is one of six priority sectors in the plan’s JD175m ($246.9m) REACH2025 ICT development strategy.
Digital tools in basic education are set to expand in the coming years, after the MoE announced that it signed an agreement to launch an interactive book initiative called Minhaji, or “my curriculum”, in February 2017. Deployed in the 2017/18 academic year, Minhaji aims to improve student-teacher interaction by providing 1000 educational devices to grade 5 and 6 students in 20 public schools. The MoE partnered with telecoms operator Orange Jordan and UNICEF to launch the programme, saying that Minhaji represents the first step towards digitising all public school textbooks. Programmes like Minhaji hold considerable expansion potential, especially within higher education. The National Strategy for Human Resource Development (NSHRD), which spans 2016-25, reports that higher education curricula have not encouraged the use of technology to raise teaching and learning standards, noting that post-secondary institutions offer very few mechanisms that support innovation.
The University of Jordan (UoJ), the country’s oldest and largest public university, is an exception. UoJ adopted the Blackboard e-learning platform in 2005, replacing it with the Open Source Moodle System in 2012, with the government launching an e-learning action plan for the university in 2014. The plan’s four objectives are to deploy new e-infrastructure and IT equipment, enhance student and teacher training, create conditions conducive to the development of quality e-learning inputs and improve cooperation at the national level.
The NSHRD aims to strengthen e-learning at universities by establishing e-learning centres in cooperation with massive open online course platforms, as well as providing smaller private online courses, which will offer new opportunities for private sector participation.
In August 2017 the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research (MHESR) launched a set of electronic services for local and international students, including an information platform covering all programmes at public universities, the number of students enrolled in each programme, and local and regional employment opportunities. The MHESR also launched an online service called “Study in Jordan”, which provides international students with information on the national education system, universities and programmes, and Jordanian society. The aim is to raise the number of international students at public universities from 40,000 to 70,000 over the next four years – a move that will provide greater sector funding.
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