Jordan Young Scientists : Empowering youth to transform society

Vincent O’Neill
Vincent O’Neill is the ambassador of Ireland to Jordan.
Since arriving in Jordan in January 2019 as Ireland’s first resident ambassador, I have been struck by the numerous parallels between the two countries. One of the most striking of these is the existence of many well-educated young people who have excellent innovative and entrepreneurial skills and who have a deep interest and commitment to contributing to the social and economic development of both their respective societies.اضافة اعلان

Over 50 years ago, Ireland recognized that if we were to advance as a society, our country would need to ensure young people had the necessary skills in science, technology, engineering, and Mathematics (STEM). To this end, an annual national Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition was launched to incentivize the uptake of science in secondary schools, improve the standards of teaching science, and reward students who excelled in science projects.

Following its establishment as a major national event, the Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition attracted much interest from the government, third-level institutes, and the private industry. It has led to the development of a very strong culture of science and innovation in the country, and it has directly impacted Ireland’s economic development, mainly by up-skilling the workforce in science and technology and helping attract international investors to locate in Ireland.

The competition is essentially funded by private sponsorship but with strong government engagement and support.

On Wednesday, I had the privilege of attending the national launch of the Jordan Young Scientist (JoYS) initiative at Al-Hussein Technical University in Amman. The JoYS initiative, which was inaugurated by Minister of Culture Haifa Najjar, draws on some of the principles of the Irish Young Scientist initiative but is fully relevant and tailored to the Jordanian context.
Planning for the success of the JoYS initiative makes societal and economic sense. There is little doubt that improving the quality of education in the bench and social sciences at the secondary level will lead to a more innovative future workforce and society.
JoYS is a hugely exciting new national initiative for Jordanian youth. Its purpose is to improve the motivation and rewards for young people who wish to study science and apply it to transform society. It has the potential to transform Jordan by empowering young people to develop solutions to social, technological, and economic challenges through the application of evidence-based scientific approaches. 

JoYS is based on a partnership model. In Jordan, it brings together the government, the private sector, the Crown Prince Foundation, the Embassy of Ireland, universities, teachers, students, and many other important organizations to develop and oversee the effective implementation of this important initiative.

The program is open to every student in Jordan studying a science-based subject. They are invited to submit an innovative research project for scrutiny by independent judges. Projects demonstrating innovation and potential for further development will enter an annual national JoYS exhibition. Winning projects will get excellent prizes, including the opportunity to represent Jordan internationally.

A boot camp will be arranged for all winning entries to assist winning students and teachers in attending workshops on entrepreneurship, the protection of intellectual property, and product development. It will show them how to turn good ideas into social and business ventures.

At the launch of the pilot program, 54 students from 21 different schools from five different governorates around Jordan competed in the first local Jordan Young Scientist exhibition. Over 40 projects were judged, and the high standard of entries and the hard work undertaken by students and teachers were commended by the judging panel.

Over the next year, the JoYS program will be nationwide with the expectation that the initiative will become the paramount national competition for students studying science subjects in secondary schools.

Planning for the success of the JoYS initiative makes societal and economic sense. There is little doubt that improving the quality of education in the bench and social sciences at the secondary level will lead to a more innovative future workforce and society.

JoYS will act as a catalyst for directing students into future careers in the sciences and technology. It will foster innovation and develop skills necessary for the sustainable development of Jordan. The project will encourage young students to use scientific methodology and investigation in the physical, biological, and social sciences outside their regular formal classes. An annual exhibition will provide a platform for students to highlight their projects to the wider school community and public.

Ireland is proud to be a co-sponsor of this wonderful initiative. We pledge our support to continue to work with the hugely committed partners in the Jordan Young Scientist initiative to ensure its success for many years to come.

The writer is the ambassador of Ireland to Jordan.

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