Education is integral to the eradication of poverty. Once people have access to a good education, they are capable of pursuing opportunities that can lift them out of poverty and improve their communities. As such, numerous nonprofits and global organizations are working to provide academic opportunities in less developed countries. The Madrasati Initiative, or the “My School” Initiative, is one of these organizations. Its mission is “to improve the physical and educational environment of Jordan’s most neglected public schools.” Since its creation in 2008, the organization has worked to provide better opportunities and education for children in Jordan, especially those living in poverty.
Public Education in Jordan
While schools in Jordan enjoy “nearly universal primary enrollment and gender parity,” schools still suffer from underdevelopment. As a consequence, students underperform in schools and many students struggle to continue their education once they fall behind.
For example, every student across 338 public schools in Jordan failed the public secondary school examination in 2015. These schools mainly fall within impoverished, rural areas and these statistics indicate “an urgent developmental and humanitarian need” to reform the education system and create new avenues for success.
New factors, such as a significant influx of young refugees and the school shutdowns during the COVID-19 pandemic, exacerbate issues that the public education system faces. As the pressure mounts, schools need better resources and more assistance.
The Madrasati Initiative
Queen Rania Al Abdullah, the queen consort of Jordan, launched the Madrasati Initiative to support education in Jordan back in 2008. The nonprofit organization initially centered on the needs of 500 public schools by operating new programs and partnering with numerous other nonprofits, including the Queen Rania Foundation.
The Madrasati Initiative encompasses several programs. These programs renovate schools, promote social cohesion among refugee students and create additional learning environments, including student clubs and music courses, among other goals.
The Madrasati Initiative made significant accomplishments over the years. Since its beginning in 2008, Madrasati served well over the initial 500 public schools, moving on to assist 830 underperforming schools throughout Jordan. In total, Madrasati has reached roughly “360,000 students, 17,500 teachers and 800 volunteers.”
As hundreds of thousands of refugees trickle into Jordan, the Madrasati Initiative creates new avenues for refugee children to advance their career prospects. Madrasati worked under the PROSPECTS program, a global partnership that the Dutch government leads, to address poverty and education issues that refugees face. On May 29, 2021, the Madrasati Initiative, the Ministry of Education and the International Labor Organization hosted an event in Amman, Jordan, to provide career guidance services for 3,000 learners, including Jordanian and Syrian refugees. The event is just one of Madrasati’s many efforts to best uplift refugee children.
Beyond its local impact, the Madrasati Initiative also fosters open dialogues about education in Jordan with students and teachers. For example, on July 4, 2021, Madrasati and other partnering organizations and governments mobilized hundreds of students and teachers in Jordan to support academic activities focusing on “promoting youth’s engagement, leadership and active contribution to advance gender equality and the role of women, particularly young women, in peace and security” in Jordan.
Addressing Ongoing Concerns
In addition to these recent accomplishments, the organization, along with its parent institution, the Queen Rania Foundation, adapted to continue its work under new parameters during the COVID-19 pandemic. For a start, the Queen Rania Foundation’s website features educational resources ranging from simple parent guides to “toolkits” that summarize education research on effecting teaching strategies.
In 2020, the Madrasati Initiative also integrated the Jordanian curriculum into online learning services like Noorspace and Kolibri as students switch to remote learning. This allowed more than 4,000 Jordanian and refugee students to continue their education through online classes.
Through the combined support of teachers, international organizations and the Jordanian government, the Madrasati Initiative can continue its efforts to improve education standards in communities and schools with the greatest need. Though education in Jordan may not be perfect, the Madrasati Initiative continues to give students an invaluable opportunity to look toward their futures.
– Lauren Sung