The Education Strategic Plan 2018-2022 does not provide an explicit definition of inclusive education, although it uses that expression to refer to the integration of children with special needs in the education system, including refugees. However, the 10-Year Strategy for Inclusive Education explicitly intends to implement inclusive education to “establish a culture of commitment to the education of all students, including students with disabilities in mainstream schools, as part of the policy, practice and responsibility of the Ministry of Education”.
The National Strategy for Human Resource Development 2016-2025 describes the education system as based on the equity principle, meaning on non-discriminatory and enabling practices for all learners, regardless of their socioeconomic status, gender, ethnicity, or physical and/or cognitive disability. Article 19 of the Law on the Rights for Persons with Disabilities Act 20/2017 mandates the provision of the optimal level of inclusive education for students with disabilities. It also includes various prescriptions such as the implementation of modern educational methodology within educational institutions including special educational programmes for students with intellectual disabilities and students with multiple disabilities provided that such programmes are intended to achieve inclusion, develop students’ academic and social capacities, and reinforce their individual independence to the greatest extent possible.
Special education needs
An explicit definition of special educational needs has not been found. However, a special education department has existed since the early 1990s within the Ministry of Education. The Education Strategic Plan 2018-2022 refers to learners with special educational needs to indicate children and youth with visual, hearing, and/or learning disabilities.
Students with learning disabilities have been integrated into general education through resource rooms, separated from regular classrooms to study specific subjects, as language and mathematics. However, special education takes place also in specialized schools with or without residential provision, in special classes in integrated schools or in integrated programmes targeting students with learning disabilities.
With the intention of making schools more accessible, there are plans to provide specific services to students with physical, speech and learning difficulties. The special support units consist of a speech therapist, a physical therapist and two teachers qualified to support children with learning difficulties. There is also more generally the vision to include learners with disabilities in mainstream settings. However, while the estimated number of children with special educational needs (visual, hearing, learning disabilities) averaged 20,600 in 2016, there were only 338 (420) male (female) female hearing impaired students and 105 (33) “mentally challenged” male (female) students in public schools in the year 2016/2017 (p.26).
At present, 150 public basic education schools are considered accessible to learners with disabilities. Inclusion of students with disabilities in mainstream settings occurs also on an individual basis. The provision of education to children with disabilities in integrated setting by associations and other non-state actors is quite common.
Early identification, screening and assessment
Medical reports are the basis for the definition of special educational needs and for education access, as pointed out in the National Strategy for Human Resource Development 2016-2025. Different learning support is provided according to the disability certified. Yet, inadequacy of the tools for educational diagnosis, measurement and evaluation have been identified as one of the main challenges in the Education Strategic Plan 2018-2022, whose aim is to increase the enrolment rate among students with disabilities. Currently, five diagnostic centers operated by the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Social Development exist in the country which is. According to the Education Strategic Plan 2018-2022, “the MoE would like to establish its own educational diagnostic centers (3 regional and 2 mobile that would also operate in the refugee camps) in order to properly assess the special needs of students”.
As reaffirmed in the 10-Year Strategy for Inclusive Education, early diagnosis is conceived as a fundamental prerequisite for the implementation of inclusive education programmes. It aims to put in place a multi-disciplinary methodology to evaluate and identify children with disabilities.
The 1952 Jordanian Constitution contains a non-discrimination provision on the grounds of race, language and religion (art.6.i) and establishes compulsory and free elementary education for Jordan’s citizens (art.20). Ratifying the UN Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) in 2006, Jordan has committed to ensuring equal access to education to all.
The Ministry of Education (MoE) and the Higher Council for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (HCD), have launched in January 2020 the 10-Year Strategy for Inclusive Education (2020-2030) fulfilling the mandate set in the Law 20/2017.
Aligned to the CRPD provisions, the National Strategy for the Affairs of Persons with Disabilities 2010-2015 aimed to implement an inclusive learning environment creating equal education opportunities for persons with disabilities by amending existing legislation. It further intended to review curricula and referral and pre-referral mechanisms and provide the latter with adequate facilities and supportive services, including transportation.
The 2017 Law on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities lays new legal foundations for the protection and promotion of the rights and interests of persons with disabilities. Among others, it reaffirms the principles of equality between men and women with disabilities (art.4.f), of equal opportunities for persons with disabilities (art.4.e) and in particular for children with disabilities (art.4.g). It contains provision for ensuring reasonable accommodation and accessibility by removing physical and behavioral barriers (art.4.i-j). Concerning education, the 2017 Law prohibits discrimination in access based on disability (art.17.a). If access is impeded because of lack of reasonable accommodation or accessibility, the Ministry of Education is mandated to provide a suitable alternative (art.17.b). It also mandates the latter to revise the curricula to reinforce acceptance and diversity (art.18.d), and to draw up a national plan for enrolling persons with disabilities into educational institutions (art.18.e). To enhance inclusive education, the Higher Council for Affairs of Persons with Disabilities in coordination with the Ministry of Education is required to define the standards for early identification and diagnosis, curriculum development and teaching standards (art.19).
Expanding access to inclusive education is also one of the objectives of the Education Strategic Plan 2018-2022. The Plan reaffirms the commitment to establish support units in schools and to providing transportation for learners with special needs. In addition, the Plan aims to foster diagnostic capacities through mobile diagnostic centers and new and operationalized centers throughout the country. It also emphasizes the education of refugee students with disabilities, for whom the Plan aims to implement a dedicated programme.
The lack of effective enforcement of the legal framework has challenged the provision of targeted services. In line with the objectives of the National Strategy for Human Resources Development 2016-2025 and informed by the principle of equality and diversity, the 10-Year Strategy for Inclusive Education commits to ensuring education for all in regular schools, including leaners with disabilities. Its aims to increase the enrollment of learners with disabilities into regular schools, alongside accessibility, develop adequate curricula and teaching strategies for inclusive education, enhance the professional development of practitioners, and develop inclusive education programmes. To achieve its objectives, the 10-Year Strategy for Inclusive Education considers essential the formulation of an adequate enabling policy and regulatory environment for inclusive education, integrated within general education policies and legislation.
According to the Education Strategic Plan 2018-2022, catch-up programmes designed for children who are more than four years older than the prescribed age for the grade exist in Jordan. The programmes are expected to be redesigned, devoting more attention to the individual needs. In particular, an intensive compensation programme has planned to be implemented, followed by an assessment and registration in public schools. Additional formal and non-formal education opportunities have been set out for children youth and adults, who have not completed education, such as education and literacy programme for adults, a Dropout Programme for adolescents and young people, a Catch-Up Programme for 9-12 aged teenagers, a Home Studies Programme and Evening Class Centers programmes.
Gender has been mainstreamed in recent national polices and laws. The National Strategy for Women 2013-2017 aims to establish advisory and counselling services to encourage young girls to identify the best educational path and reaffirms the commitment to represent a more balanced view of women in school textbooks and curricula.
School absenteeism is related to poverty, especially for young boys. The 2013 Jordan Poverty Reduction Strategy aims to provide systematic career guidance support to reduce the dropout rate. The school feeding programme for children in public schools in more disadvantaged areas has been in place since 1999 to encourage school retention.
Refugee students receive education in double shift school. Having identified refugees with disabilities among those at risk of being left behind, the Department of Special Education intends to introduce a special support programme based on occupational therapy and rehabilitation to facilitate their care and education.
Jordan is also home to over 2.3 million Palestine refugees registered with UNRWA. The Agency provide inclusive learning environments to nearly 120,000 of their girls and boys in grades 1-10
Gifted and talented learners
Accelerated and/or enrichment programmes specifically target gifted students in specialized separate centres. The Education Strategic Plan 2018-2022 renews the objective to create a dedicated center to support the development of abilities and skills of gifted students.
Cooperation across sectors
According to the National Strategy for Human resource development 2016-2025, governance tends to be fragmented across different entities. This also implies fragmentation of education provision with the MoE (for the
majority of students with disabilities) and the Ministry of Social Development (MoSD) (for students with moderate to severe mental disabilities) with consequences for opportunities to continue education for the respective students.
The 1993 Law of the Disabled Care No. 12 transferred the competency of education for people with special needs from the Ministry of Social Development (MOSD) to the Ministry of Education (MoE). The former is still responsible for care, training and rehabilitation services. At present, the Ministry of Health is responsible for the only diagnostic center in charge of diagnosing disability and in turn determining the suitable education provision for the learner.
The 2017 Law on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities establishes a Higher Council for Affairs of Persons with Disabilities to coordinate the institutional actors involved at the national level in the provision of services to the target group (art.7-9). The Higher Council together with the MoSD and the MoE is responsible for the provision of education services for students under the age of eighteen, while the MoE and the Ministry of Higher Education takes the responsibility of adult and high education, respectively. The MoSD has developed criteria for licensing special education centres. The Higher Council for Persons with Disabilities has also set its standards for the accreditation of special education centres, while the MoE relies on Special Education Directorate for children with special needs.
One of projects outlines in the National Strategy for Human Resources development aims to “establish a mechanism to coordinate efforts, roles, and responsibilities of the relevant stakeholders, especially those between the MoE, MoSD, Higher Council for Affairs of Persons with Disabilities (HCD), MoH, training centres, civil society organisations (CSOs), and private sector”. According to the Education Strategic Plan 2018-2022, the MoE had signed an agreement with the Higher Council for Persons with Disabilities to rehabilitate four pioneer schools for inclusive education, during 2018.
Cooperation across government levels
The 1993 National Building Code regulates standards for facilities, buildings and roads. However, its partial implementation affects accessibility to schools. As stated in the Education Strategic Plan 2018-2022, two schools per year are expected to be renovated, including kindergartens, to make them more accessible with ramps and toilets to children with disabilities under the responsibility of the department of Special Education and in coordination with the School Mapping Unit and the General Education Directorate.
In order to tackle the increased number of students due to the migration of Syrian refugees, the government rented school building that not always guarantee the same school standards.
The lack of adequate transportation service for children with disabilities has been identified as one of main challenges for ensuring an effective inclusion education provision. Budget has been allocated to this activity in the Education Strategic Plan 2018-2022, while the 10-Year Strategy for Inclusive Education has included accessibility and reasonable accommodation as one of its components for the realization of inclusive education. In line with the Building Code Requirements for Persons with Disabilities, the Strategy recommends starting from construction works, such as setting ramps and elevators, while the use of rental schools is considered not adequate to meet accessibility standards. It also recommends the establishment of 300 new, accessible male and female school buildings for Jordanian, refugees and special needs students over the next five years.
In 2013, evaluation frameworks and outputs for the curriculum were developed taking into account also gender equality. Despite the review of the curricula being one of the priorities in the National Strategy for the Affairs of Persons with Disabilities 2010-2015, the 10-Year Strategy for Inclusive Education recognizes that the existing curriculum creates a non-inclusive learning environment for students with disabilities. Therefore, the Strategy document has planned to develop curricula, teaching materials and assessments able to meet the requirements of inclusive education, by, among others, developing standardized procedures for the adaptation of the curricula and by using assistive technology. It is important to note that National Strategy for Human Resources Development highlights that the MoSD (which provides education for students with mild to severe disabilities) operates curricula and training independently of the MoE which makes it difficult for some of its students to sit for official examinations .
Currently, there is no requirement for teachers to have qualifications on inclusive education. Limited in-service training on special educational needs are also available.
The Education Strategic Plan 2018-2022 intends to introduce standards and competencies for teachers’ professional development during service, including specific training for special needs teachers. It also aims to provide gender mainstreaming to raise gender-awareness and responsiveness of education leaders.
Likewise, the 10-Year-Strategy on Inclusive Education has identified the necessity to review pre-service teacher training and professional development to ensure an effective implementation of inclusive education. It has therefore planned to provide educators and school principals with knowledge about an inclusive school environment and train the former to respond to students’ difference within the same classroom. Among its objective, it also aims to recruit teachers with disabilities ad use positive experiences as role models.
Specialized psychosocial training have been introduced to assist teachers dealing with refugees’ trauma.
Jordan provides an annual education report in Arabic.
For the academic year 2016-2017, a new Education Management Information System (OpenEMIS) was launched in cooperation with the UNESCO Office in Amman. The new system unifies the data sources in one database and provides comprehensive data on teachers, schools and learners, including refugee children. Through a Geographic Information System (WebGIS), education data are integrated with general figures related to local areas to better support the decision-making process; for example, the need to new school infrastructure in relation to population density and growth. The Education Strategic Plan 2018-2022 established also new indicators to monitor progress in the education of special needs students and teachers’ training and standards.