“What the Arab world needs today is an educational revolution; we need a fundamental change that will fulfil every parent’s ambition to provide their child with a quality education.”
Her Majesty Queen Rania Al Abdullah, 2013
From its founding in 2013 by Her Majesty Queen Rania of Jordan, the Queen Rania Foundation (QRF) has aimed to be the premier resource on educational issues, in Jordan and around the Arab world, and to act as an incubator for new ideas and initiatives. In the firm belief that education is the foundation of economic, political and social development, QRF’s mandate has focused on identifying gaps and opportunities for developing new education programs, with the aim of influencing policy and creating educational change on the ground. QRF’s focus is perhaps best exemplified through the launch of Edraak.org an online education platform that localized open source technology developed by Harvard and MIT to reach over a million learners across the Arab world with free high quality educational material in less than 3 years.
The Middle East region is now the world’s largest producer and host of forced displacement. With the number of refugees and displaced people across the Middle East reaching almost 15 million, QRF believes it is imperative now more than ever to reinvent education from the ground up. Education must suit the needs of a shifting geopolitical landscape and a more mobile population – forced or otherwise.
Re-inventing School Education
Jordan and the Middle East region are at a critical point. Whereas others may choose to dwell on the challenges, Her Majesty has always maintained that “Pessimism doesn’t change the reality; it prolongs the status quo… Optimism and faith coupled with pragmatism change the reality”. It is imperative upon the people of Jordan and the region to embrace the current status quo as an opportunity to disrupt existing legacy systems of education, healthcare, and infrastructure. In that light, and in response to the incoming waves of refugee children in Jordan, QRF aims to position Jordan as the ideal setting to reinvent school education through an impact focused approach to learning.
Over the next 5 years, QRF will focus on a subset of public schools that are hosting both Jordanian and Syrian refugee students, combined with learners that are out of school for a number of factors. The Foundation will aim to reach 150,000 school-age students between 3 and 15 years of age with teacher-targeted localized innovative solutions that improve learner’s socio-emotional skills, numeracy, and literacy.
To successfully disrupt the education sector, it will be critical to start at the bottom of the pyramid where resources are constrained and there is an imperative to do more with less. QRF will identify and channel funding to the most suitable innovations (technological or otherwise), localize them when necessary, and run rigorous assessments for impact. The defining aspects of QRF’s approach are the focus on rigorous evaluation methods to “solve for impact” and the mixed funding approach to ensure that both public and private sector thinking can be combined to solve these critical challenges. Successful deployments will then be scaled via public-private partnerships across the Jordanian public school system. QRF will widely share the results of all of its interventions to ensure that any lessons learned are accessible to educators and learners across the globe –especially those working within developing settings and forced migration challenges.
Within its target schools, QRF will center on 5 areas for its interventions. The focus areas have been identified through a rigorous research process using internal and external experts to ensure limited resources are directed to the issues with the highest potential for impact on learning and society. The five focus areas are: improving learning outcomes for boys, creating more structured classroom pedagogy, introducing regular formative assessment, creating strong school leadership and positive culture, and raising parental awareness and engagement in the early years of a child’s life. These focus areas will be buttressed by three crosscutting themes that have always been central to QRF’s operations and interventions: a clear understanding of the transformative power of technology (and its limitations), provision of a healthy socioemotional school climate, and finally ensuring selected interventions are readily scalable on national levels.
As a small country, with very little resources, and in a turbulent region, Jordan has always relied on the support of visionary friends and partners to help it develop into a model of stability and moderation across the region. In the same vein, QRF seeks the support of the international community and leaders in the public and private sector to help it transform Jordan into the ideal setting to catalyze education for the developing world and especially the Middle East region. As stability returns to war torn countries such as Yemen, Libya and Syria there will need to be clear models of education that can help them make up for lost time.
- EdraakEdraak works to revolutionize the access and delivery of education, in Arabic, across the region to help Arab society fulfill its potential. Its courses include those that are critical to the region: STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math), Entrepreneurship, Employability Skills, Education & Teaching, and Citizenship Education.
- MadrasatiMadrasati Jordan targets disadvantaged public schools and undertakes infrastructural improvements as well as facilitates school-based programs to enhance learning environments.
- Jordan Education InitiativeThe Jordan Education Initiative (JEI), an ICT in education initiative, aims to embed and implement the effective use of technology in school-based learning.
- Royal Health Awareness SocietyThe Royal Health Awareness Society (RHAS) works to improve the knowledge, attitudes and skills of children and teachers in relation to healthy behaviors.
- Queen Rania Teacher’s AcademyThe Queen Rania Teacher’s Academy (QRTA) provides in-service professional development training to public school teachers, especially in the areas of Math, Science, English and Arabic.
- Queen Rania Award for Excellence in EducationThe Queen Rania Award for Excellence in Education (QRAE) recognises distinguished public school teachers, counsellors and principals, encouraging excellence and innovation across classrooms while bolstering the status of the profession.
- Children’s Museum JordanThe Children’s Museum Jordan (CMJ) provides informal education and opportunities for children aged 2-12 years to learn through play.
- Jordan River FoundationThe Jordan River Foundation (JRF) serves to improve child safety, and also to empower communities via demand-driven community projects.
- Al-Aman FundThe Al-Aman Fund for the Future of Orphans provides encouragement and financial support for orphans above the age of 18 to help them continue their education and offer them essential life skills training and access to employment.