No idle majors, just idle minds

Jordan University
(File photo: Jordan News)
A bit over a week ago, the Civil Service Bureau released a list of jobs that are considered ”idle”, or not useful for the labor market. These included political science, foreign languages, philosophy, economics, business administration, special education and rehabilitation, journalism and media, and computer science. اضافة اعلان

While it is true that Jordan is lacking in a few essential majors, especially technical ones, people should not be discouraged from taking the idle ones. Not only do opportunities in these fields exist under the right circumstances, social sciences and humanities present far more value than our society perceives.

Many believe that an excessive number of people specialize in these subjects that present narrow opportunities, but this is only the case because of the way Jordanian employers think. Compare what one is told when taking philosophy in a Canadian university to what one is told in a Jordanian university. While Canadian educators admit that niche subjects such as philosophy do not have many direct job paths, this does not matter much, since employers look at the skills that the degree provides, rather than the actual subject itself.

In any given Western country, philosophy graduates can work in prestigious private and public positions, for their degree teaches valuable research, argumentation, and communication capabilities.

By contrast, the mentality regarding employment in Jordan is narrow. Should one study philosophy, the only avenue for employment is to teach that subject, which has been especially difficult because up until recently, there was a 45-year hiatus in teaching philosophy in Jordanian public schools.

When employers in our country begin to look at what a degree offers instead of what it is called, this subject will no longer be called idle.

On a practical level, the Jordanian society is in desperate need of these majors in a public setting. Take economics as an example. Economic decisions at micro and macro scales are made impulsively, with short sightedness, as a natural response to our ongoing state. However, if more economic analysis were applied on a day-to-day basis, our situation could be expected to improve.
Recall that the Arab and Islamic golden age was spurred on by the exchange of Arabic, Persian, Greek, Sanskrit, and Syriac texts. Prevalence of language brought about a wealth of knowledge.
Speaking of ideas, knowledge of foreign languages is imperative to form a cultured and enlightened nation. The translation of texts has brought about different improvements in the course of human history, and with some studies saying that different languages are indicative of different ways of thinking, Jordan gains a more global perspective through encouraging this field of study.

Recall that the Arab and Islamic golden age was spurred on by the exchange of Arabic, Persian, Greek, Sanskrit, and Syriac texts. Prevalence of language brought about a wealth of knowledge.

As for journalism and media, we now live in a world where a plethora of media resources are available. One is no longer dependent on state TV or CNN to grasp what is going on around the world. Though this sounds impressive, it can have grave consequences. Across the globe, many have manipulated this wide accessibility to social media, and pushed sinister agendas on digitally illiterate people. Corrupt companies and shady politicians pay for ads that harm the wellness of nations. The solution is teaching journalism to the masses, the youth of this nation, so that the media serve the people. We cannot afford to have media as a commodity for the elite, or to fall victim to baseless conspiracies.

Political science is especially important in our current era, one that we hope is an era of reform. Changes have been announced to make Jordan’s parliament a truly modern and democratic institution. Yet, the lack of youth participation makes this nearly impossible. In the last election, less than 10 percent of voters were youth, despite this demographic making up around a third of the population. For a variety of reasons, Jordanian youth are too intimidated to engage in politics, but with the encouragement of political programs in universities, real participation can become more robust and this area of Jordanian society can develop properly.

Furthermore, in a country where disability is quite stigmatized and misunderstood, more special needs services are needed. Despite disabled individuals making up over 10 percent of the Jordanian population, accessibility and integration remain major issues for them. More emphasis must be put on the plight of disabled people, which is often ignored. Such an improvement can only occur through teaching awareness in schools and universities.

Last, but certainly not least, is computer science. This field increases in relevance exponentially with every coming year across the world. Jordan lacks natural resources, which means that, for the time being, the government should move toward making ours a service economy. Some services are more in demand than others, yet the fact of the matter is that in our day and age, digital services are of utmost importance, meaning that our focus should be on that area.

The above specializations are not a problem, and it is beneficial, not detrimental, that young Jordanians flock to these majors. What needs to change are the many simple-minded employers in Jordan who refuse to employ those outside of a small fold of professions.

That being said, the Civil Service Bureau was right to recommend more technical majors. In truth, the world’s most successful countries have  varied economies and services. Supporting a culture where Jordanian students can branch out to a wide range of interests will inevitably diversify the economy and really put Jordan on the map.

Mohammad Rasoul Kailani, is a first year student at the University of Toronto. Amongst various other topics, his interests are in Middle Eastern affairs.

Read more Opinion and Analysis
Jordan News