April 16, 2008

Queen launches initiative to renovate public schools

The ambitious ‘Madrasati’ (my school) initiative, spearheaded by Her Majesty Queen Rania, is designed to make education a social responsibility for the entire community (Petra photo)

AMMAN (JT)- Major corporations in the Kingdom have thrown their full weight behind a bold initiative launched yesterday to persuade the private sector to take ownership of their communities and foster the future workforce by upgrading ailing learning environments.

The ambitious “Madrasati” (my school) initiative is designed to make education a social responsibility by pairing corporations and NGOs with 500 schools in the Kingdom which are in desperate need of repair.

Over the next five years, around 165,000 students will benefit directly from this plan, according to organisers.

Her Majesty Queen Rania, who heads the initiative, launched the project yesterday at a gathering of supportive donors and representatives from 100 schools.

Madrasati is the latest in a series of projects led by the Queen for the advancement of the Kingdom’s educational institutions by restoring and equipping schools to create more inspiring learning environments.

“Today our schools have become a social responsibility. It is the responsibility of every active citizen and every organisation working to improve the standard of living in Jordan, and every company - private or public - that wants a hand shaping the future of our youth,” Queen Rania said in her address at the launch.

The national scheme requires cooperation between the public, private and civil society, and academic sectors and already incorporates 12 main partners including the Ministry of Education, the Jordan River Foundation and the Greater Amman Municipality.

At a recent event at the University of Jordan, Her Majesty expressed core reasons why Jordanians should be involved at the grassroots level to build a better future and hold each individual accountable in the process.

“Building our future is a social responsibility that excludes nobody. It is your responsibility and my responsibility. It is ‘and’ and not ‘or’. It is the responsibility of every Jordanian so that none of us finds himself in a path that has already been set for him. If you - the educated, the graduates, the politicians - do not participate in improving society, who will? If we do not move now, then when will we?” she said.

Madrasati targets any corporation or individual that can contribute to the effort through funding, in-kind donations, employee time or programmes to improve student learning.

With over 1.6 million schoolage children in Jordan, Madrasati also focuses on private schools that can be involved in “twinning” projects and offer resources, experience and time to public schools while teaching progressive values to their students.

Meanwhile, students from the almost 15 per cent of the Kingdom’s 3,257 public schools that are considered “badly inhabited”, headed booths armed with computer images of the dilapidated premises caused by years of neglect.

Shocking images of the ill-equipped schools included a library with two shoddy closets and no librarian, exposed electric wires, three students to a desk and “out of order” bathrooms.

One of the images depicted a school’s main doors, which are permanently locked because if opened, they would cause the surrounding concrete to collapse.

Corporate heavyweights already onboard, such as Zain and Aramex, were quick to show their support. As companies which already manage corporate responsibility programmes, they stressed that community involvement goes far beyond signing a cheque.

“It is not only a matter of funding; if we were to adopt 50 schools, each would have a designated employee to be directly involved in the long- term process,” Suzanne Afaneh, corporate communications director of Zain, told The Jordan Times.

Zain, which has already committed JD500,000 towards the initiative, considers this a “continuation of sustainable efforts and continual awareness for other corporations that there is always a way to make a difference”, according to Zain CEO Saad Nasir.

Founder and CEO of Aramex, Fadi Ghandour told The Jordan Times that public-private partnerships are at the core of his company’s philosophy, noting society must be influenced into seeing what these partnerships can accomplish.

Other main partners include the Jordan Education Initiative, the Royal Health Awareness Society, the Jordan Education Society, the Children’s Museum, the Queen Rania Award for Excellence in Education, UNICEF, INJAZ and Ruwwad.

Madrasati’s website was also officially launched Tuesday.

For more information on the initiative, visit: http://www.Madrasati.jo or call 0800 22 8 66.

No comments: