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Thursday, September 2, 2004

National Kindergarten Curriculum

Queen Rania acknowledges national efforts in launching Kindergarten curriculum

(Office of Her Majesty, Press Department - Amman) As students headed back to school for the start of the 2004/2005 scholastic year, Her Majesty Queen Rania Al-Abdullah  attended the launching ceremony of the National Kindergarten Curriculum which was formulated stemming from the necessity to address the needs and characteristics of child education during the crucial formative early childhood period.
 
With education one of the priorities on the national agenda, the Kingdom’s policy attaches serious importance to early childhood education for pre-school children between the ages of four and six.
Launching the curriculum in Wadi Al Seer’s Al Rabahiah Elementary School in Badr Al Jadidah, Queen Rania expressed appreciation for the team’s efforts to develop the curriculum, saying: “We are proud of your efforts which have culminated with this curriculum that is a model for the Arab World.”
 
Queen Rania said the comprehensive scheme takes into consideration both the training and the theoretical and practical sides of the education process, adding that the project was carefully studied in partnership with concerned institutions in Jordan and abroad.
 
The National Team for Early Childhood Development, established in early 2000 by Queen Rania, was entrusted with setting up a framework to establish a national strategy targeting children in that age group, by formulating an integrated plan to improve the quality of education provided to all children in Jordan.
 
The Ministry of Education worked with the National Council for Family Affairs (NCFA) to implement a national project to improve and develop pre-school education, with the support of the Arab Gulf Program for United Nations Development Organizations (AGFUND) to contribute to developing pre-school education and increasing the percentage of children attending pre-schools.
 
Minister of Education Dr. Khaled Touqan, outlined the project’s components which aim to enable children to channel their energies and capabilities in a direction that will facilitate their active participation in the experience of learning and contribute to its development. He stresed that there has been a marked increase in kindergarten enrolment and noted the importance of early childhood development which is an investment in creating human resources.
 
NCFA Secretary General Dr. Ruweida Ma’ayta briefed attendees on the project’s next phase, explaining that the NCFA and the Ministry of Education worked to ensure that the multi-donor "Education Reform for the Knowledge Economy Project (ERfKE)" has a component on Early Childhood Education that ensures the continuation of efforts in the area of pre-school education.
 
ERfKE’s Early Childhood component has four main sub-components: Institutional development, which entails the evaluation and testing of the curriculum, developing training packages for teachers and administrators, and testing the draft standards for licensing kindergartens; professional development which entails training teachers on Early Childhood Education; expansion of kindergartens, which involves the establishment and furnishing of 140 kindergarten classrooms in the poor and remote areas and the involvement of communities which aims to reach parents of children of 0-8 years of age with information on child development and rearing practices.
 
Following the launch of the curriculum, which consists of three sections including modern principles in educating pre-school children, interactive educational activities and interactive writing activities, Queen Rania toured the school’s kindergarten classroom, observed the class and talked to the children using the IBM Kidsmart early learning program. She was also briefed by Dr. Touqan on the pre-school text books.
 
The launch was attended by members of the national team for curriculum development, members of NCFA and Ministry of Education and representatives from AGFUND, USAID and IBM who have sponsored the development of the curriculum.
 
In 1994, pre-school education was made part of primary schooling, but was not compulsory. By 2005, the Ministry of Education hopes to increase the number of children enrolled in kindergartens from 28.5 per cent to 35 per cent, by an expansion of public pre-schools in remote areas.
 
While providing pre-schooling in remote areas, the Ministry of Education is continuing its plan to set up pre-school facilities in girls’ schools in all educational directorates of the Kingdom, averaging 50 pre-schools every year..
 
In 2000, the Ministry of Education began modernizing pre-schools in nine different educational directorates, which resulted in setting up 51 pre-school classrooms, catering to 275 students supervised by 15 teachers.
 
In 2003/2004, however, steady expansion resulted in public pre-schools rising to 187, with 4,387 students in 203 classrooms, taught by 203 teachers.
 
Ajloun now boasts the highest number of pre-schools in its directorate, with 17 at last count. Bani Kinana comes in second with 12 pre-schools, Petra has 11, and Ma’an has 10.
 
Amman’s public pre-schools stand at four, the same as in Zarqa, Ruseifa and Salt. In the Jordan Valley and Madaba, there are two pre-schools in each.
 
The Ministry of Education provides various services to the governmental pre-schools by hiring certified and trained teachers, distributing teaching and educational manuals and providing all pre-schools with audio-visual equipment, as well as computers, outdoor and indoor toys.
 
In the private sector, 1,212 pre-schools were recorded for the year 2003/2004, registering 74,814 students, distributed amongst 3,995 classrooms and 4,361 teachers. The highest concentrations of private pre-schools are in the capital, Amman, followed by Zarqa and Irbid, with the least in the Jordan Valley, Shuneh and Petra.