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Tuesday, March 28, 2000

Her Majesty Queen Rania Al Abdullah holds meeting with National Working Group for Early Childhood Development

Members of the National Working Group for Early Childhood Development on Tuesday presented Her Majesty Queen Rania Al Abdullah with strategy papers and project proposals for early childhood development in Jordan.

Queen Rania, who heads the National Working Group, was presented with draft strategy papers on tackling early childhood development in preschool education, at the first three years of formal schooling, health, the education of children with special needs, and early childhood development at the family and community levels.

Draft project proposals focusing on the following themes were also submitted to the Queen: licensing standards for pre-school education, expanding the number of kindergartens in the Kingdom, and improving the quality of school education in grades 1-3 of formal schooling.

The Queen emphasized the need to set up pilot projects, which would test the feasibility of introducing culturally sensitive curricula and manpower training on early childhood development.

In addition, she stressed the importance of family and community-based approaches to early childhood development.

Enhancing the physical structure of pre-school facilities in Jordan, especially in under-privileged areas of the Kingdom, should be an immediate concern for the Working Group, the Queen also said.

Queen Rania established the Working Group in December 1999 in response to the need to address development and education of children from the ages of 0-8 at the national level, which is considered the most formative age group for the healthy development of a child.

Members of the committee have defined the age group of 0-8 as early childhood years, in line with international definitions.

The National Working Group is entrusted with the setting up a framework to establish a national strategy for early childhood development and to formulate a comprehensive vision for the implementation of an integrated plan to improve the quality and quantity of services provided for this sector in the Kingdom.

The group will be carrying out a survey to assess the current status of early childhood development in the country, drawing up a strategic comprehensive plan for tackling the issue at the national level, and finally, laying out an action plan for the implementation of the group's recommendations.

The group will be assessing issues such as legislation pertaining to children in Jordan, education at the pre-school stages, the role of the family in the development of a child, children's culture as manifested in childrenÕs books and programs, early childhood development programs, health facilities, children with special needs, as well as issues related to gender and equity in opportunities.

The group will also be looking into the role of government and non-governmental institutions pertaining to this field, as well as the role of the media.

The working team includes experts and professionals from the government, non-governmental and private sectors.