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Crowding at public schools, anxious parents and how the issues are being addressed

Teacher and school children in classroom
(Photo: Jordan News)
AMMAN — The large number of students returning to in-classroom learning at public schools, worries parents, teachers and the students themselves.اضافة اعلان

The resulting overcrowding is not conducive to recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.

The Ministry of Education approved in-classroom learning this year, after its experience with remote learning.

The ministry issued the “Guide to a Safe Return to Schools for the 2021-2022 School Year” at the beginning of the semester.

The guide contains an explanation of the attendance system for students as well as for educational and administrative staff at schools.

To know more about how the ministry is dealing with the large numbers of students returning to school, Jordan News spoke with the ministry spokesperson, Ahmed Al-Masafah, who said: “The large numbers (of students) that public schools are seeing this year were mostly due to the transfer of students from private schools to public schools during the pandemic period.

The ministry has accepted all transfer requests in consideration of the students’ needs and the financial situation of their parents.”

This large number led the ministry to resort to several plans to ensure that students’ right to full education is not impeded, which includes insuring one square meter distance between each student in class. 

As a result, schools are dividing their classes according to physical capacity, reducing the number of students per classroom.

Other schools receive students in two shifts, an evening shift and a morning shift.

There are some schools that deal with the problem on a rotational basis, one half of students in a class attend school three days a week, while the other half attends school on the other three days, the spokesperson said.

“The rotation system is not what it was at the beginning of the year, (numbers) have decreased significantly.

This is mostly due to the ability of some schools to exploit their resources and buildings better, and also due to the return of a number of students to private schools,” Masafah said.

When asked about future plans for dealing with the growing number of students in schools, Masafah said: “We really need more schools, but this does not correspond to Jordan’s ability to build a large number of buildings quickly.

However, we are actually renting buildings, and this played a major role in relieving the pressure on existing schools.”

Abdullah Al-Shishani, the guardian of a tenth-grade student in a public school, said: “The idea of a rotation system on weekdays has really reduced the number of students in the classroom.

However, the problem lies in the distraction that the student feels as a result of not going to school daily.

As my brother feels that his absence from school during weekdays delays his progress through the curriculum, and that he does not receive information with the appropriate intensity.”

He added: “I think that the ministry should find other more effective solutions, but I do not think that there is a better solution than building new schools, even if it seems costly, but it is the most appropriate solution in the long run.”

A public school teacher, Mahmoud Hammouri, asked about the school situation this semester, said: “We have already reduced the number of students in the classroom, and kept a safe distance between the seats.

In the school where I work, the number of students in one room does not exceed twenty students, which is a very reasonable number for the size of the room.”

When Hammouri was asked of his views on the impact of the rotation system on students, he said: “There are a number of parents who are still dependent on electronic content, meaning that they do not send their children to school.

They receive information in the way that suits them, although I prefer direct interaction between the student and the teacher.”

“As for students who attend school on alternating days, I do not find that they face any problem,” Hammouri said.

“The small number of students makes it easier for the teacher to get the information across easier and faster and more intensively.” 

He does not deny the difference between this year and previous in terms of pace of instruction and in terms of going through the curriculum, but stressed that the year is just starting and improvement is still possible, as students’ ability to adapt to the current situation is constantly improving.

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