Nonformal Education Site Visits: round one

This week I escaped the office and traveled out to the lower-income neighborhoods of East Amman, a world away from the shiny high rises of West Amman, to visit three nonformal education centers with Questscope program coordinators.

In Jordan, if a student has dropped out of the formal education system for three or more years, he or she cannot re-enroll. This nonformal education program allows dropout students to earn their 10th grade equivalency, and then go on to either vocational school or sit for the tawjihi exams (passing the tawjihi is like earning a high school diploma in the US)

The nonformal education sessions are held after regular school hours in classrooms at public schools, and vary considerably in terms of attendance, teaching style, student level, even availability of resources. For example, at one center, four Jordanian girls were learning specifics of Arab grammar by working quietly on worksheets provided to them by their facilitator. At another, 20 boys (eight of them Syrian refugees), crammed around three round tables in a sparse classroom and learned about shapes.

All facilitators are supposed to be utilizing student-centered learning in the sessions; that is, students are supposed to actively involved in their own learning process. Teachers should facilitate and guide students during this process. A challenging model to be sure, and one that the three centers haven’t yet adopted. The need for more training has been mentioned to me by all facilitators and program coordinators.

My language skills aren’t nearly where they need to be to engage in any real conversations with students yet, although for the most part they patiently wait as I stutter out my sentences. The effort seems to count for something, anyway. My Moroccan accent has been noted more than once: which I kind of love but am also surprised by… I didn’t think anyone would notice since I’ve cut out the Morocco-specific vocabulary. In the evenings I’ve been working out of a Peace Corp language manual on the Jordanian dialect, and come Ramadan I’ll enroll evening classes at a local language school. For most in-depth conversations during the site visits, Rasha, a Questscope staff member, has acted as a translator. She has been extremely kind, but I’m looking forward to not having to rely so much on her.

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About Laura McAdams

Laura McAdams is a Master’s student at University of Pennsylvania studying International Educational Development. Her experience in the MENA region includes 15 months as a Fulbright student researcher to Fez and Ifrane, Morocco in 2010 and 2011. Her project was interested in understanding the disconnect between the policies of technology usage in education and the reality of how these policies unfold in the classroom. Summer 2012 she returned to the Middle Atlas mountains of Morocco to work with a women’s weaving cooperative. She is excited to learn more about other countries in the MENA region and issues involving education policy and reform, technology usage in curriculums and gender equality in education. One of Laura’s lifelong goals is to one day be able to sit down and leisurely read a newspaper in Arabic.
This entry was posted in International Educational Development Program at UPenn, 2012-2013. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Nonformal Education Site Visits: round one

  1. June says:

    This is really interesting, and it reminds me of this similar facilitator-student schooling institution/center in L.A., where high school level students can attend and do “independent study” to receive high school diplomas. Thanks for sharing!

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