Controversial minister back for third stint in reshuffled Jordanian government

Jordanian Prime Minister Omar Razzaz announced the appointment of eight new ministers Thursday. (File/AFP)
Updated 09 May 2019

Controversial minister back for third stint in reshuffled Jordanian government

  • Thursday’s reshuffle is the third since Razzaz replaced Hani Al-Mulki as prime minister amid nationwide protests against proposed tax increases and price hikes
  • The frequent government changes are seen as a way of deflecting public frustration in the country

AMMAN: Jordanian Prime Minister Omar Razzaz’s newly reshuffled government was on Thursday sworn in before the country’s King Abdullah.

The reorganization was marked by the appointment of political hardliner Salameh Hammad as the new minister of interior replacing the outgoing Samir Mubaideen.

It is the third time Hammad has held the interior ministerial post, his first stint being between 1993 and 1996, and his second in 2015 during the administration of Prime Minister Abdullah Ensour.

In April 2016 Ensour was forced to ask for Hammad’s resignation after a large number of parliamentary members signed a petition expressing no confidence in him.

Haytham Erefej, a founding member of the Civil Coalition party, told Arab News that the government rejig will make things more difficult.

“This is a strange reshuffle, normally there is a goal behind the change, for example to lessen tension in the street, but this change will make the public angrier than before and this is in total contradiction to Prime Minister Omar Razzaz who was brought in as a liberal savior,” said Erefej.

Sabri Rbehat, a former Jordanian minister, questioned the need for change. “It produces no advancement in the badly needed political process,” Rbehat told Amman’s Radio Al-Balad.

Abla Abu Elba, secretary-general of the left-wing Hashd party, said: “Even though we don’t want to be pessimistic, the message in the appointment (of Hammad) signals that we will be facing a harsh position in the future.”

Jordan MP Tariq Khoury told Arab News he was opposed to appointing government Cabinet members based on a quota system rather than qualifications. “We need to end this idea of making appointments based on geography or tribalism but on qualifications,” he said.

Ali Khawaldeh, director general of the Jordanian Ministry of Political and Parliamentary Affairs, told Arab News he welcomed some of the changes particularly the renaming of the Ministry of Municipal Affairs to the Ministry of Local Government. He said the new name was in accordance with “international norms” and that it will “strengthen the current decentralization efforts.”

The country’s Ministry of Telecommunications will now be called the Ministry of Digital Economy and Entrepreneurship with Mothana Gharabia continuing to head up the ministerial role.

Razzaz had asked on May 8 for all his ministers to resign ahead of the third reshuffle in the space of a year. It follows a change of personnel in the general intelligence directorate and at the royal court.

Bisher Al-Khasawneh was appointed as adviser to his majesty for communication and coordination as of April 23, 2019, and Maj. Gen. Ahmad Husni was appointed as director of the General Intelligence Department (GID) as of May 1.

Cairo turns to Tokyo for a lesson on education

Updated 23 August 2019

Cairo turns to Tokyo for a lesson on education

  • The Japanese education system is recognized as one of the top five worldwide

CAIRO: Egypt is seeking Japan’s help to improve its education system, which has fallen to 130th place in international rankings.

The Japanese education system is recognized as one of the top five worldwide, and Cairo is hoping to apply key aspects of Japan’s approach to the Egyptian curriculum.

Education has played a major role in transforming Japan from a feudal state receiving aid following World War II to a modern economic powerhouse. 

During a visit to Japan in 2016, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi discussed political and economic development with Japanese officials, and was also briefed on the Japanese education system.

The Egyptian leader visited Japanese schools and called on Japan to help Egypt introduce a similar system in its schools.  

As part of Egyptian-Japanese cooperation, Japan’s embassy established cultural cooperation as well as technical and professional education links between the two countries. Collaboration has been strengthened from kindergarten to post-university, with Japanese experts contributing in various education fields.

Japanese experts have held seminars in schools across the country, focusing on basic education. 

During one seminar, Japan highlighted the importance of enhancing education by playing games during kindergarten and primary school, encouraging children’s ability and desire to explore.  

Education expert Ola El-Hazeq told Arab News that the Japanese system focuses on developing students’ sense of collective worth and responsibility toward society. This starts with their surrounding environment by taking care of school buildings, educational equipment and school furniture, for example.

“Japanese schools are known for being clean,” El-Hazeq said. “The first thing that surprises a school visitor is finding sneakers placed neatly in a locker or on wooden shelves at the school entrance. Each sneaker has its owner’s name on it. This is a habit picked up at most primary and intermediate schools as well as in many high schools.”

Japanese students also clean their classrooms, collect leaves that have fallen in the playground and take out the garbage. In many cases, teachers join students to clean up schools and also public gardens and beaches during the summer holidays.

El-Hazeq added that neither the teachers nor the students find it beneath their dignity to carry out such chores.

The academic year in Japan continues for almost 11 months, different from most other countries, with the Japanese academic year starting on April 1 and ending on March 31 the following year.

Japan’s school days and hours are relatively longer in comparison with other countries. Usually the school day is from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Teachers normally work until 5 p.m. but sometimes up to 7 p.m. Holidays are shorter than in other countries. Spring and winter holidays are no longer than 10 days, and the summer holiday ranges from 40 to 45 days.