Eighty-five middle school students from public and private schools around Jordan joined forces this month to discuss important issues affecting the country and propose solutions to them at the first Jordan Model Parliament (JMP) Middle School Conference hosted by King’s Academy.
The two-day conference, which started on November 3 and was held entirely in Arabic, is a student-led initiative that prepares 7th and 8thgrade students to become future parliamentarians by teaching them the skills needed to become active and effective leaders of their societies. At the opening ceremony, delegates watched His Majesty King Abdullah II’s March 2015 speech in which he said: “We build our future by arming the young generation with a progressive and civilized outlook based on values of good citizenship, initiative, ambition, excellence, respect for work and achievement."
On the first day, a humorous approach was taken to introduce delegates to the concept of working together to find and implement solutions to real-world problems, with the King’s Lion playing a starring role by ‘kidnapping’ two students from the Abdul Majeed Shoman Auditorium during the opening session. The delegates broke off into groups to come up with ideas to rescue the students, putting skills such as discussion and group work into action. Finally, one group proved successful in implementing their plan of action, resulting in the safe return of the missing students!
“Our goal for the first JMP Middle School conference was to focus on developing students’ skills, rather than the actual outcome,” said JMP Secretariat President Amr Almghawish ’17, who also taught the JMP Middle School workshop this term. “We also wanted to introduce them to Jordan and issues that the country is facing.”
“I wanted to take part in JMP to learn more about Jordan, so I was really happy that Middle School got the chance to host its own conference,” said Nadeen AlEmam ’21.
The next day, participants chose one of six forums to participate in: human rights, economics, security and politics, education, arts and culture, or the environment. Students worked in groups to write and present their solutions to forum-themed issues, before debating the most effective ones based on evidence rather than opinion. Through these activities, the participants developed essential skills such as public speaking, writing, problem solving and working as a team. Each forum included an interactive activity related to their theme, such as studying the Jordanian Constitution, planting trees, and learning about instruments at the school’s performing arts wing.
“Arts and culture is a new forum we introduced because the past year has been very successful for Jordan in that area,” said Almghawish. “We want students to know that the arts are just as important as more traditional subjects.”
The Middle School conference was purposefully designed with the younger age of the students in mind, incorporating more interactive activities and fewer debate and writing sessions. Although it was their first conference, the delegates were well-prepared, having attended a one-day training session hosted at King’s the week before. Each activity taught the students a different skill needed for the conference. It also helped to break the ice by introducing all the students from the different schools to each other.
“We came from many different governorates but got to know each other through JMP,” said delegate Tareef Al Farawati, who was nominated to take part by The Children’s Library in Madaba.
The conference closed with awards presented to the best delegate in each forum. During a fun and entertaining closing party, 100 students - and the King’s Lion - formed the longest Dabkeh train ever to be seen at school. The students went home happy, confident and inspired to make their country a better place.
“I liked giving my opinion about economic issues facing Jordan, such as poverty and refugees, and discussing solutions, not as an individual but as a representative of the people,” said Joud Gharaibeh, from Khalda Secondary School for Girls. “I want to help my nation.”