As part of the activities organized on the occasion of its 10th anniversary, King’s Academy hosted a panel discussion on Tuesday with Jordanian Minister of Foreign Affairs HE Ayman Safadi and Minister of Education HE Dr. Omar Al Razzaz, giving students the opportunity to ask questions and engage with the ministers on national and international issues.
Headmaster John Austin, who led the panel, asked the ministers about some of the main challenges faced by Jordan, such as misconceptions and misrepresentation of the Middle East in international media, the refugee crisis, and education reforms, and what steps the government was taking to tackle these issues and move Jordan forward.
Safadi said that regional crises in recent years have played a large part in disrupting the government’s vision and strategies, and that Jordan just needed “opportunity” to create a better future for its people, which would be brought about with stability and peace, as well as by building a culture of respect and acceptance for the other. “In short,” said Safadi, “we are about creating opportunity by making sure we have proper education, good governance, good foreign relations, peace, stability and respect.”
Al Razzaz spoke to students about how global advances in technology were ushering in the “fourth industrial revolution,” which he said made most current educational models obsolete, as they were designed to meet the needs of 19th century factory-based industries. “Building 21st century skills is key,” explained Al Razzaz. “What we need now is to analyze and solve problems. It’s a very different environment.”
Responding to Austin’s question on how Jordan can combat some of the stereotypes of the Arab world in international media, Safadi explained that there is a general misunderstanding of Middle Eastern cultural issues. “It is all about telling a story,” Safadi said, explaining that to change how we are being perceived, Jordanians must tell their own narrative, what we are all about, and what we stand for.
Al Razzaz applauded King’s for the diversity of its student body and its strong financial aid program which makes it possible to offer scholarships to students from around the country no matter their income. According to the minister, that diversity needs to be recreated at the national level, as it is key to building bridges among different segments of society, and to building a national sense of identity and belonging.
Jordan has always had a culture of education and has for long recognized its youth as its best resource, according to the ministers. Looking back at their own formative years, they noted that it was the commitment of teachers and parents to investing in their children’s education that helped shape who they were today. While acknowledging the importance of that support network, Al Razzaz also advised students that to be satisfied in their choice of career, they need to choose the one that rings true for them.
“Each one of you is different,” said Al Razzaz, “and each one of you is talented and extremely capable, so just be faithful to that inner voice.”