Students tackle tough issues head on at third annual JMP

King’s Academy hosted the third annual Jordan Model Parliament (JMP) conference from April 6 to 8, at which 500 students representing 80 public, private and UNRWA schools around the kingdom discussed and proposed solutions to some of the country’s most pressing issues.

JMP forums are directly related to specific aspects of Jordanian society (human rights, environment, economics, law, national security and foreign policy, education, arts and culture, and technology and communications) in addition to Arab League, Cabinet of Senate, National Security and Foreign Policy, Crisis Committee, Court of Justice and the Ministers Cabinet.

During the Security Council forum, student parliamentarians discussed issues affecting the region as a whole, with combatting terrorism and extremist ideologies high on the agenda. Discussions centered on the need to educate and raise awareness among young people through workshops and lectures about the threat of terrorism, and on the importance of cooperation and solidarity in the face of this threat.

“Youth are Jordan's most valuable asset,” said JMP Deputy Secretary General Tala Abdulqader ’17. “When JMP delegates learn more about issues in their country and their world it not only enlightens them but also ensures that they think critically to find solutions for them.”

Some of the conference’s major outcomes included recommendations to create jobs for graduates and young people and to support entrepreneurship through financial assistance for small business startups. Students also discussed ways of combatting a ‘culture of shame’ that discourages young people from seeking vocational professions, where there is high demand for skilled labor. 

Another important issue on the agenda was the need to increase gender equity in the workplace and increase women’s membership in trade unions and political parties. Participants noted that enhancing women’s participation in these areas will help to enhance Jordan’s economic, social and political climate.

“JMP is helping to change mindsets, not only of female delegates who may have thought their contribution to society was limited, but also of male participants in valuing women’s contribution,” said JMP Secretary General Amr Almghawish ’17.

Also during the conference, students tackled issues such as corruption, the environment, water scarcity, children’s rights, the rights of persons with learning disabilities, music and tourism, traffic and public transportation issues, brain drain, the increased cost of living, unemployment, honor crimes and domestic violence, and media challenges. In addition, the conference highlighted the need to promote a culture of reading in Jordan and recommended establishing an official reading quota within the national school curriculum as well as the construction of more libraries.

The conference featured a number of guest speakers who provided students with valuable advice, including Jordanian politician and former Speaker of the House of Representatives HE Saad Hayel Al-Srour, who shared his parliamentary experience, and Rana Dajani, founder of the We Love Reading initiative, who spoke about her goal of fostering a culture of literacy in Jordan by establishing a library in every neighborhood, and who also spoke about ways to encourage reading through modern and creative methods.

At JMP’s first panel discussion, guest speakers Ahmad AlHanandeh, CEO of Zain, Abdullah Abu Al-Sheikh ’12, King’s graduate and managing partner of LUXDP, Hawazin Al-Khataybeh, co-founder of Parachute 16 and Ayat Amr, a computer science student, discussed entrepreneurship with delegates and shared their own stories, challenges and experiences of establishing successful businesses from the ground up in various sectors.

“It was one of the best parts of the conference this year,” said Almghawish about the panel discussion. “I have never seen our delegates more engaged, they were so inspired by the stories they wanted to connect with the speakers even after the conference.”

JMP 2017 marked a number of milestones for the initiative. For the first time, international students were able to take part and learn about Jordanian economic, political, social and cultural issues at dedicated English language forums. Middle School forums were also held for younger students. The conference included 19 forums – up from 12 forums in 2016 – with new ones on arts and culture, technology and communications, and Court of Justice.

Most significantly, JMP has become one of the nation’s most highly anticipated school conferences with interest from students and schools around the kingdom. As a result, JMP 2017 was the largest conference to date, with over 500 students from 80 schools participating – compared to 300 students and 20 schools in 2016 – and representing all 12 governorates in the country, making Jordan Model Parliament a truly national initiative.  

Almghawish is excited about what the future holds for JMP and Jordanian youth. “Starting next year, schools that have participated in JMP over the last three years will become training centers for schools in their area. That means we will be able to train students from over 400 schools around the kingdom, which will create unbelievable change in the Jordanian community.”