Queen Rania launches the Ma'an Campaign

November 18, 2009

(Office of Her Majesty, Press Department - Amman) The Ma’an campaign was launched today under the Patronage of Her Majesty Queen Rania Al Abdullah by the Ministry of Education in collaboration with UNICEF to reduce violence in all public and UNRWA schools in Jordan. Following this week’s high-level meeting held by the National Alliance Group presided over by Her Majesty Queen Rania, the Ma’an campaign is committed to make classrooms a safer place for learning by encouraging teachers to adopt and maintain non-violent disciplinary practices.

During the ceremony, Queen Rania addressed almost 4,500 attendees including ministers, teachers, school principals, UN representatives and members of the donor community to highlight the importance of building a culture of respect for human rights and dignity within school environments. “It is a fact that in too many of our schools today, there are violent practices that do not reflect who we truly are and what we represent, and that saddens me,” stated the Queen. “Violence should never be a legitimate method of disciplining children. Humiliating students or instilling fear in them is unacceptable and counter-productive. There are so many other ways to encourage positive behavior that earn teachers lasting respect and teach students lasting lessons. Children learn through love and constructive examples, not fear and intimidation,” continued Her Majesty.

School violence is a serious global concern and the launch coincides with the world celebrations of the 20th Anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1989. The campaign complements the Kingdom’s educational reform process; it represents a strategic approach to tackle the issue of violence at its roots, aiming to reduce abuse in schools by 90%, over three years.

At the event, Queen Rania also highlighted the need to set a positive example in classroom settings, noting that Jordan’s children are a product of their environment: “Children spend 1/3 of their day in school, so what they learn from teachers, powerful role models, will influence them and ultimately determine how they behave outside school and inside homes and communities,” she said. Also today, the Minister of Education, HE Waleed Maani, presented the results of a national study on violence in schools conducted in collaboration with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and The National Council for Family Affairs (NCFA).

According to the study, more than two-thirds of children in Jordan are subjected to verbal abuse by their parents, while 57 per cent experience physical abuse at the hands of their schoolteachers and administrators. The survey covered 64,119 male and female students and revealed that the most common form of verbal abuse consisted of shouting (45%), while 40% of physical abuse involved punishment with a stick. In addition, 15% of children were reported to skip school at least once during the year, due to fears of being threatened or hit by teachers. Statistics also showed that 9th graders are more likely to be victims of violence than 4th graders, and that the highest incidence of abuse was found in boys’ schools (34.5%), followed by mixed sex schools (20.5%) and girls’ schools (18.3%).

In response to these findings, the Ma’an campaign will bolster the fight against school violence by adopting a three-track strategy: school-based activities prompting teachers to take up new methods for instilling positive discipline in classrooms; community-based meetings advocating zero tolerance of violence in schools; and media-based coverage raising awareness on the results achieved by the campaign. The campaign will mobilize all segments of society including decision makers, educators and early childhood development practitioners, to demand an end to school violence and champion change within school environments. “The educational process requires three components to work alongside each other simultaneously: students, teachers and parents. Their combined strength comes from their willingness to live up to their responsibilities. “Maan” means “together”- because only “together” can we heal the wounds of Jordan’s abused children,” Her Majesty noted.

The ceremony also included the projection of a short video which revealed dramatic episodes of violence occurring in schools, as well as the prospect for change brought about by the Ma’an campaign.