Education Sharing Developmental Experience with Jordan


Education is an important area of cooperation between India and Jordan. Chaarvi Modi has more.

India and Jordan have pursued an evolving relationship in various areas since the establishment of diplomatic relations in 1947. The fact that over 7500 Indians are employed in Jordan in textiles, IT, pharmaceuticals etc gives the Indian government reason enough to engage in valuable methods of cooperation. The Jordanian government has also taken steps from its side to open its doors to Indian visitors. In a landmark move in 2009, the Jordanian government allowed visa-on-arrival to Indian tourists travelling up to two weeks, which could be received without visiting the Jordanian embassy. Such steps have brought both countries closer. Besides these areas, the two also cooperate in the indispensable field of education.

Education has also been an important area of cooperation between the two countries. Since both are developing nations struggling with the challenges of good governance and political reform, they form the best partners to understand the vitality of education and the need for quality education to enhance their populations’ chance for a better life. A sound education system results in the formation of a sound human resource base, which consequentially leads to aware citizens and efficient governments. India and Jordan have discovered a few areas of cooperation in this sector and find ways to improve education. Jordanian Minister of Education Tayseer Al-Naimi participated in the first World Education Summit (WES) 2011 held in New Delhi on July 13-14, 2011.

Benefits of the Comprehensive ITEC Programme

The Hashemite Kingdom is an integral partner country of the Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation (ITEC) Programme, a fully funded programme under the Government of India (GoI). A brainchild of the first Indian Prime Minister, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, ITEC was instituted on September 15, 1964, in a decision taken by the Indian Cabinet as a bilateral programme of assistance of the GOI. It was formally launched under the premiership of Lal Bahadur Shastri. The visionary ITEC programme was based on the foreign policy approach that deemed ‘it necessary to establish relations of mutual concern and inter-dependence based not only on commonly held ideals and aspirations, but also on solid economic foundations. Technical and economic cooperation was considered to be one of the essential functions of an integrated and imaginative foreign policy.’

This programme is essentially bilateral in nature; however, in the recent past, ITEC resources have also been utilised for cooperation programmes envisioned in regional and inter-regional frameworks such as Economic Commission for Africa, Industrial Development Unit of the Commonwealth Secretariat, UNIDO, and Group of 77 and G15. Its activities have also been associated with regional and multilateral organisations and cooperation groupings such as Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN), Pan African Parliament, and the World Trade Organisation (WTO), among several others. One hundred and sixty one countries in Asia, Africa, East Europe, Latin America, the Caribbean as well as Pacific and Small Island countries are invited to share the Indian developmental experience acquired over six decades of India’s existence as a free nation. As a result of different activities under this programme, there is now a visible and growing awareness among other countries about India’s competence as a provider of technical know-how and expertise as well as training opportunities, consultancy services and feasibility studies. These programmes have generated immense goodwill and substantive cooperation among developing countries.

Adding Value to Education

Jordan is one such country that benefits from the comprehensive ITEC programme. For the Financial Year 2014-15, the Embassy of India announced their decision to offer 20 slots to Jordanian nationals under ITEC. Under the framework of this programme, Jordan is one of the allies with which India shares its rich experience in the domain of economic development, manpower, skills and technology. There are 47 institutions conducting 280 short-term, medium-term and long-term courses during the year. The training programme is demand-driven and subjects selected are of interest to developing countries for their working professionals on a wide and diverse range of skills and disciplines.

The slots being offered most recently range from a wide field including finance, auditing, telecommunication, English language, banking, management, rural development, sustainable development, environment, and technical and special courses. Jordanian students have left no stone unturned to make the best of this opportunity. This is in tune with Jordan’s educational system, which offers two-year vocational courses in various skills for students with more inclination towards jobs that require hands-on experience. It consists of several apprenticeships and such courses only add value to their learning.

There is a growing interest for pursuing higher education in India. At present, there is no agreement between the two countries on educational matters except for provision of scholarships under the Cultural Exchange Programme (CEP). Currently, there are over 500 Jordanian students pursuing courses in different universities in India. The number of Jordanian alumni of Indian universities is over 2500. However, the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) offers five annual scholarships to meritorious Jordanian students for higher education in India.

Challenges and Further Cooperation

There are several areas in which the two countries can further collaborate. Being developing countries of a continent on the rise, India and Jordan do face a common, widely prevalent, grassroot problem in the field of primary education. The government describes Jordan’s education scene as ‘dramatic’. It further goes on to say that: “Starting from almost nothing in the early 1920s, Jordan has forged a comprehensive, high-quality system to develop the human capital of its citizens. Today, there are 2787 government schools, 1493 private schools, 48 community colleges, and 19 universities. In Jordan, access to basic education has been emphasised in all the country’s development plans. The government, as a matter of policy, has provided every village and community with 10 or more school-going children with a school. This rapid spread of facilities has enabled citizens in poor and remote areas to gain access to education.”

However, going to school is only half the battle. Jordon has wide learning gaps between socio-economic groups that need to be addressed. There is a similar trend seen in India that needs to be tackled so that a strong foundation can be given to the future of both nations. The two must definitely work together in future to find ways to solve this very basic issue.

As both the countries tackle a swiftly rising population, governments must make sure to update facilities as well. They must ensure that skills being taught match the kind of jobs available in the market. A mismatch will only be problematic to the already developing scene. It would be interesting to see how two emerging nations find ways to solve their common problems, and develop long-lasting solutions to foster growth and mutual development.

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