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Democracy must be taught in schools — experts

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AMMAN — Educational experts preach that teaching democracy in a practical way, away from indoctrination is crucial for promoting partisan awareness and political participation among students.اضافة اعلان

The call came to the backdrop of an announcement by The National Center for Curriculum Development on Tuesday on the onset of teaching “Democracy and Participation in Public Life” for 10th and 11th graders. It said it will support civic and national education for 10th graders, while backing material for history for 11th graders.

Former Minister of Education Tayseer Al-Nuaimi told Jordan News that “teaching democracy in schools is an important and necessary step, especially since it comes in response to the political transformation that we are witnessing”.

He said the move is “consistent with the outcome of the modernization of the political system”.

Nuaimi argued that “students in the age group of 16 to 17 years old are on the verge of constitutional benefits, such as the right to vote and elect, whether for municipalities, or in parliamentary polls.”

He explained that “such a transformation in development and political modernization is a cumulative process, where we must start from the institutions of social regeneration, including parents, schools and universities.”

“A key factor for the success of this new experience is how to use these acquired skills in the classroom,” he said. “I hope that it will be employed in the method of education so that the students will not be mere listeners and recipients.”

“If this happens, the desired goal of teaching this subject, which revolves around making a qualitative shift in the democratic behavior of our students, will not be achieved,” he pointed out.

He noted the importance of having a dialogue and debate between students in one class, “especially since the approach to democracy starts from within the school environment”.

Nuaimi stressed that “the involvement of students in such activities will have them acquire the right skills to learn to accept others and accept the differences of opinion.”

“I think that there are challenges on how to train teachers effectively, given that they have to move away completely from the and traditional method of teaching,” he said. “Otherwise, we will not be able to achieve the desired goal of teaching this subject.”

Educational expert Sami Al-Mahasis told Jordan News that the move “is a step in the right direction, given that it will contribute to instilling the spirit of citizenship and participation in political and party life at the same time”.

“The fear remains that students will be distracted, especially with the inclusion of this subject with subjects, such as national education and history, and not keeping it as a separate subject,” he added.

He stressed the importance of noting the grades of courses in democracy in the final certificate, “so that it is taken seriously and focused on, due to its importance”.

“It is necessary to organize meetings between teachers and representatives of the Independent Election Commission to consult on the mechanism of teaching this subject,” he said.

“Moreover, I suggest that this subject be taught in two governorates of each region to get feedback from the students, their families and teachers, and if it succeeds, it should be taught in all governorates and for all ages,” he maintained.

Mahasis stressed the importance of holding field visits for students to the Lower House and the Senate “to get them acquainted with the nature of participation in political and parliamentary life on the ground”.

Mahmoud Massad, former head of the National Center for Curriculum Development, told Jordan News that democracy “should to be taught in the form of extracurricular activity, and be part of the student’s way of life since the first grade”.

He explained that “holding classes and school elections, for instance, would greatly instill the concept of democracy among students, so this would be a practical application on the ground.”

“This subject cannot be taught through education,” he countered.

“It is based on a set of behaviors that we must get used to since childhood,” he said. “Those around us, parents and teachers, must set a good example for us in this matter.”

Saleh Al-Omari, director of the Curriculum Department at the Ministry of Education, told Jordan News that “democracy will not be subject to the final evaluation of the students, but this will not reduce its importance as it will be based on strategies of dialogue and debate, and thus will deepen the students’ understanding.”

He said: “This subject will include hosting personalities from the Independent Election Commission to talk about the elections. In addition, there will be visits to the Lower House.”

According to Omari, “students will discuss many local issues, with a focus on political issues and they will also will be discussing the election law and the party law.”

“The Ministry of Education is partnering with various bodies and institutions to discuss the most appropriate way to teach this subject, due to its importance, and given that students in the ages of 16 and 17 years are entering a new stage in their lives that includes various rights and duties, and we must help and support them,” he concluded.

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