Queen Rania celebrates birthday [Jordan Times, Amman]
(Jordan Times, The Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Sept. 01--AMMAN -- Although she was an excelling student in high school, Lamia Mustafa, a paternal orphan, knew that she would be unable to continue her education.
"I scored 91.8 in Tawjihi [the General Secondary Certificate Education examination]. But that meant nothing because my family was financially incapable of enrolling me in a university," Mustafa told The Jordan Times in a recent interview.
But her life took an unexpected turn thanks to support from Al Aman Fund for the Future of Orphans.
"After applying to the fund, they instantly accepted me and I started my higher education. This would have been impossible without their help," the 23-year-old said.
Mustafa, not her real name, now works in an Arab Bank IT department after graduating with a bachelor's degree in software engineering from the Hashemite University.
She says the fund opened new opportunities for her in life.
Mustafa says she has a good monthly salary that helps her support her mother and three younger siblings.
"The fund simply saved my life and I regularly take part in its voluntary activities to share my story and what I have learned with other beneficiaries. This is the least I can do."
She is one of more than 2,224 orphans who have benefited from Al Aman fund, which Her Majesty Queen Rania launched in 2003 to provide education to orphans after they leave care centres.
This is not the only initiative launched by the Queen, who celebrated her birthday on Saturday; she is the initiator of several endeavours that seek to improve people's lives.
The Madrasati initiative, which the Queen launched in 2008, has improved the lives of more than 165,000 students by renovating and enriching the learning environment of 500 public schools across Jordan in urgent need of repair.
"The Madrasati initiative changed the lives of students and teachers alike. It increased engagement and interaction in classes," Areej Dheisat, a teacher at Faqou Secondary School for Girls in Karak Governorate, 140km south of Amman, told The Jordan Times.
Madrasati "has changed the face of education" by making schools more appealing for students and more engaging for teachers, introducing hands-on methods, and connecting school curricula to everyday life.
"Before the initiative, I didn't communicate or interact with students often," noted Dheisat, who is supervisor of the school's science lab.
"After joining some of the initiative's programmes on how to interact with students, I introduced schemes to teach students while playing. For example, I started joining sports classes such as basketball to explain physics to students," she said.
Madrasati not only helped renovate the school, but also made it a better place and more attractive to students, which largely reduced absence from classes and enhanced their performance, Dheisat added.
Thanks to the initiative's programmes, Dheisat said she helped a student named Rasha overcome her disabilities.
"Rasha has speech problems and a disability that prevents her from properly using a pen to write. I trained her on how to use the keyboard and currently she can answer questions and do tests on the computer. I also helped in computerising exams for her and involved her in sports, where she made friends," Dheisat said, noting that she started sharing her experience with teachers at other schools in the area.
Her Majesty also launched the Queen Rania Teacher Academy (QRTA) in 2009 in partnership with Columbia University to promote excellence in teachers' education in Jordan and throughout the region.
Since its establishment, the academy has reached public schools across the Kingdom, with 8,956 educators benefiting from its programmes, which are designed to upgrade teachers' skills.
"Students in my maths classes were counting the minutes to leave the classroom because they felt mathematics was boring. I didn't know how to solve this problem until I received training from QRTA," Yehya Seifan, a teacher at a school in Irbid, 80km north of Amman, told The Jordan Times.
"The experts from Columbia University helped me introduce new, unconventional teaching methods, which made students more interested in the subject," Seifan added.
The training, he said, focused on using tools to simplify the learning process.
"I started engaging students in games that make them think about mathematics as an interesting topic, thanks to the training I got," Seifan noted.
Her Majesty also launched the Queen Rania Al Abdullah Award for Excellence in Education as a means of following up on the performance of educators and to recognise the efforts of "distinguished" teachers and principals.
More than 11,700 educators have competed for the distinguished teachers award since its launch in 2006, while 848 competed for the distinguished principals award, which was launched in 2009.
Darwish Ghneim, principal of the Ashrafieh-based Salah Eddine Secondary School, said the two awards fuelled healthy and creative competition between teachers in the country's schools.
Ghneim, who won first place in the 2011 Distinguished Principals award, said the recognition provided the much-needed motivation for educators to contribute wholeheartedly to the improvement of schools.
"I introduced a series of programmes that entailed increasing engagement with local communities and cooperating with NGOs to provide scholarships for those who excel in Tawjihi," he said.
"I introduced a code of conduct at school on how teachers and students should deal with each other respectfully, which enhanced the education environment," Ghneim added in a recent phone interview.
"The two awards are just what teachers and principals needed. Now, they feel more attached to and concerned with the improvement of the education environment. Thanks to the awards, schools are becoming better and more attractive."
(c)2013 the Jordan Times (Amman, Jordan)
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