Queen Rania Visits Salt

April 12, 2006

(Office of Her Majesty, Press Department - Salt) In her first visit to Salt City this year, Her Majesty Queen Rania Al-Abdullah visited the King Abdullah II School for Excellence, Wednesday, to meet with the students and faculty and encourage their efforts in maintaining an environment of excellence.

Dozens of students lined the entrance and joined the Minister of Education, Khalid Touqan, and the school principal, Nimat Abu Talib in welcoming the Queen. Touqan and Abu Talib accompanied Queen Rania on a tour of the school.

Queen Rania visited with students at the language lab and observed the methods they use to improve their language skills. Students in the language lab listen to conversations in English through their individual headsets and then discuss the passages with their teacher. While Arabic is the language of instruction at the school, students have the opportunity to learn and excel in English and French.

After listening to the day's lesson, one of the students told the Queen that she had a complaint to make. As Her Majesty listened attentively, the young pupil boasted about her pride in her school, but complained that the facility is too small to accommodate the number of students and faculty. There are over 250 students enrolled at the King Abdullah II School for Excellence and that number is only expected to increase in the coming years. Her Majesty assured the girl that she had already discussed the issue with Touqan. Touqan informed the students that plans are already in motion to relocate the school to a better facility.

Queen Rania also stopped in on the computer lab where the students got the chance to show her their individual projects which included presentations on Jordan, the environment, and a booklet produced in French about the city of Salt.

Earlier Wednesday, Her Majesty attended a meeting at Al Balqa Applied University where she was briefed on a social work initiative between Jordanian and British universities. The Jordan River Foundation (JRF), under the direction of Her Majesty, facilitated a national dialogue between Al Balqa Applied University and the Hashemite University in Jordan and the University of Reading and Brunel University in Britain.

Maha Khatib, General Director of JRF, and an advisor to Her Majesty, spoke of the urgent need for reform in the social sector. "There is a need for qualified people to manage and implement this sector," she said. Over the past week, participants from the four universities have outlined ways to upgrade the quality of social work education in Jordan to meet international standards and to establish a social work council to regulate the practice of social work and to standardize and protect the rights of the profession.

Donald Forrestor spoke on behalf of Reading and Brunel universities, saying he hoped this dialogue will allow those in the field of social work in Britain to share best practices and lessons learnt with their Jordanian counterparts. Her Majesty stressed that while this is a valuable relationship, it is also important to focus on Jordan-specific issues when reforming the social sector here.

"Social work is at the frontline of development for Jordan," she said, "hopefully you'll set an example for other universities to follow suit."

Al Balqa Applied University is currently the only university in Jordan that offers a Bachelors Degree for Social Work. Khatib said that through this collaborative process, they all hope to put more weight on the practical side of social work rather than the theoretical side.

Charles Walker, Director of the British Council, said this type of endeavor is an important part of the Council's work and that such relationships in the past have proven sustainable.

Queen Rania spoke of the Teacher's Award launched earlier this year. The award is aimed at bringing back prestige and respect to teachers. "I'd like to do the same thing with social work… to change the perception so that people see social work in a positive light," she said, "It takes a particular character to do it well and people should go into it for the right reasons."

Following the visit to the university and the school, Her Majesty visited with orphans at the Prince Abdullah Orphanage. The orphanage was built when His Majesty King Abdullah II was a young prince and named after him.

Her Majesty and the senior caregivers discussed the needs of the orphanage. The caregivers spoke of their plans to expand the orphanage and Her Majesty requested that the Minister of Social Development, Sulaiman Al Tarawneh, who had accompanied Queen Rania on her visit to the orphanage, ensure the upgrading of the facility.