ICP Professor Works to Jump-Start Jordan Economy

Posted: September 21, 2000 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Elena Barbre

A reshaped educational system is the first step to an improved economy, and John Volpe is part of a team that is leading the country of Jordan down this path. The goal is to move the nation from its underdeveloped manufacturing economy to a thriving information economy that will enable it to compete in the global marketplace.

“Jordan is trying to be the Ireland of the Mid-East,” says Volpe, a professor in the School of Public Policy’s International Commerce and Policy Program. “But the most exciting export they have now is potash.”

Volpe is part of the Jordan Vision 2020 initiative, which is guiding the country’s economic growth and development in the 21st century. One of the group’s main strategies is to reform Jordan’s educational system, with the goal of making its students globally competitive, especially in science and math, fields integral to an information economy.

“An educational system that is not working well today will not enable Jordan’s graduates to compete in the world economy of the 21st century,” says Volpe. He suggests modifying school curricula to enhance creativity, innovation, and critical thinking, and enhancing the abilities of schoolteachers through professional training in English language skills, computer-aided instructional methods, and creative ways to use new technologies in the classroom. English language training, economic education, computer instruction, and Internet usage skills, all taught beginning at the primary school level, are also critical components of the country’s success, he says.

The key to achieving these changes in the educational system is to upgrade critical skills of the Jordanian workforce, including written and oral communication skills, computational skills, proficiency in the use of computers, and the ability to adapt to changing environments and to work as a team, says Volpe. “Jordan’s educational system must change in order to graduate students who possess the skills that will make them successful in the international marketplace and the knowledge-based economy of the future.”

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