IIE Networker - Spring 2009 - (Page 45)

HIGHER EDUCATION IN JORDAN A Race to the Top: Helping Jordan Win the Right Race By Robert G. Ayan MANY SOCIETIES EXPRESS a common desire to advance themselves through education, yet continued investments in education alone are not being realized in socio-economic returns. Why? Many societies lose their most talented people immediately after they graduate, and indeed education is often seen as a path to emigration. The lack of suitable advanced degree programs is another cause for the ambitious to find their way to societies that can offer them higher levels of education and more attractive opportunities in their preferred field of study post graduation. Meanwhile, the climate for entrepreneurship in many places stifles the ability of entrepreneurs to express their economic self-determination locally, making emigration all the more attractive. With nearly one million Jordanians living outside the country, most would agree these conditions are symptomatic of a country like Jordan. As a developing country that values education, how can Jordan compete across the set of drivers that can stem the continued loss of human capital and allow it to capture the value it creates from investments in education? While successful societies employ a holistic, systemic approach to achieving socioeconomic development through sound public policy that complements value creation with value capture, other societies, like Jordan, have immediate concerns which lead to shorter term, direct methods. Across the Middle East a youth bulge has emerged, where as many as two thirds of the population is under the age of thirty. Most mass employment schemes are designed to employ the largest segments of Jordanian society and, consequently, engage Jordan in a “race to the bottom” competing for low wage, low skilled jobs; a race that Jordan will lose if it wins by accepting less. This “race to the bottom” has already attracted foreign guest workers to Jordan in large numbers, competing for low wage jobs originally intended for Jordanians. Alleviating the demographic pressures represented by the youth bulge, the high birth rate and the continued loss of Jordan’s intellectual wealth to competing economies creates an unsustainable future where Jordan invests in education without capturing the value it creates. Instead, its continued investment in education makes Jordan a donor to competing economies in the form of tens of billions of dollars in human capital, including the loss of Jordanian faculty which attacks Jordan at the start of its socio-economic value chain. In addition, rising living standards, exposure to ever greater amenities and luxuries, and even images broadcast into homes from satellite television create rising expectations across Jordanian society for an ever increasing quality of life. If Jordan fails to create opportunity for the most educated members of its society, they will continue to leave the country, diminishing the capacity of the local workforce and regressing Jordanian society as measured by education levels (as illustrated by Graph 1.0). Combined with the youth bulge and the poverty cycle generated by a heavy emphasis on creating low-wage, low-skilled employment opportunities, more and more Jordanians will find less incentive to pursue higher education, except as motivated by their own values or as a means to emigrate abroad. The desired result of greater socio-economic development is lost in these dynamics, as are other positive aspects of societal development such as the state of arts, science, culture and human rights. Inversely, by focusing on Jordan’s best and brightest, who can generate wealth and employment opportunities for all other segments of society, a new initiative in Jordan aims to help shift the entire bell curve of Jordanian society forward (as illustrated by graph 1.1). While other mass employment schemes focus on the largest part of the bell curve, the lowskilled, low wage earning segments, this new initiative differentiates itself by seeking to Jordanian Society With Youth Bulge and Loss of Talent Uneducated Elementary High School Bachelors Masters Phd Graph 1.0: Illustrative graph of Jordanian Society with combined impact of youth bulge and loss of educated talent leading to the regression of society (“the race to the bottom”) Jordanian Society by Education; Advancing the entire curve Elementary High School Bachelors Masters Uneducated Phd Graph 1.1: Illustrative graph of Jordanian Society advancing as a whole with impact of creating high value employment and utilizing the intellectual wealth of the country that are able to employ all other segments (“the race to the top”) 45

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of IIE Networker - Spring 2009

IIE Networker - Spring 2009
 Message from Allan E. Goodman
 IIENetworker University Presidents Interview Series: Edward Guiliano, President of New York Institute of Technology
 Best Practices in International Education: 2009 Andrew Heiskell Awards
 HRH Princess Ghida Talal of Jordan Receives IIE Humanitarian Award
 Qatar's Outstanding Schools Initiative: A New Model for International Linkages in Education
 The Community College of Qatar: New Initiative to Meet Emergent National Educational and Labor Market Goals
 Toward a UAE Liberal Studies Stream
 New York University Abu Dhabi and the Research University as Global Network
 Expanding Education Abroad in the Arab World
 The Middle East as a Study Abroad Destination
 Student Flows from the Middle East: Iranian and Saudi Arabian Students in the United States
 The Desert as Meeting Place: Where Students from the Middle East and Around the World Come Together
 A Race to the Top: Helping Jordan Win the Right Race
 The Browser: Index of Advertisers
 IIE Program Profile: IIE's Work in the MENA Region

IIE Networker - Spring 2009