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French Version

INTERFACE : "e" is for Education

Jordan has embarked on an ambitious, long-range plan to become an information-age society

JORDAN (Star) - Jordan has embarked on an ambitious, long-range plan to become an information-age society. Apart from the all the public and private sector initiatives to 'computerize' organizations-more fashionably referred to as "going e"-Jordan's most impressive, and probably most effective, effort will be in education.
Studies show that nearly one third of the nation's population is students, over 75 percent of who are in school. Therefore, it's no surprise that the number of teachers in Jordan is large-well over 50 thousand.

The government's e-Learning initiative addresses the importance of computers in education, but more importantly tackles the foundations of computer teaching by focusing on teachers.

The Ministry of Education has tied teacher promotions to information technology proficiency. This is a fantastic development that is, probably, the only way to ensure that all teachers learn how to use computers, first, then how to utilize them as teaching tools.

The Ministry has decided on the International Computer Driving License (ICDL) course and tests as the criteria for qualifying teachers as computer-literate. Consequently it is the basis for their promotion. This UNESCO standard is now being offered in several computer-training centers in the country and many more are now preparing to offer it. There are different levels of ICDL courses. The higher the level, the higher the possibility for promotion for teachers.

This new policy, coupled with the Ministry's impressive push to get computers into every school in the Kingdom, should bear fruit in the coming years.

This commitment is so serious that it's expected the Ministry of Education will, one day, be the single largest user of IT in Jordan! Already, the governments of Japan, Canada and many aid organizations have committed to donate computer equipment in the thousands. And this is just the begining.

The objectives of the Ministry of Education's e-learning initiative are: "To enhance the channels through which educational information reaches students and integrates new technologies within the educational process in general". It's a continuing process that is already getting substantial support.

The current Minister of Education is to be commended for pushing through this e-Learning system, but particularly for changing decades of tradition in teacher's qualifications and promotions that simply didn't suit today's information age.p> It's interesting because for the past couple of decades, since computers first appeared in schools, students knew more about computer software and hardware than their teachers. This was due to the typical age of home computer users in Jordan, and most of the world for that matter. Teachers were simply not interested in computers. They taught a dry course that included little, if any, useful information.

For computer enthusiasts of my generation the only proper sources of information were computer magazines, and discovering how to use your computer through trial-and-error.

A friend of mine once described us as "social-mutations" who managed to break away from the mainstream of superficial computer knowledge towards in-depth computer use. Fortunately we were aided by our parents who probably understood that they would be the only adults to support our interest!

Maybe now, for a change, students will actually learn something about computers from their teachers, and not just in computer lab, but in all subjects! With organized, formalized computer learning, by an experienced tutor, imagine what our already innovative students could achieve!

Zeid Nasser
The Star

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