Project Performance Assessment Report: Higher Education Development Project and Education Reform for the Knowledge Economy project

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Executive Summary

·   For many years, the Jordanian government has supported a strong education policy to develop its human resources

·   While Jordan’s education system, mostly primary, has undergone rapid expansion over the past few decades, the government has been concerned about learning achievement and quality in addition to the relevance of the education and professional training being provided in higher education

·   Donors play an important role in the development of education in Jordan with the government exercising good coordination of grants from a variety of donors

·   Although the World Bank has been supporting education projects in Jordan for decades, concerns about the declining quality of higher education has led to the World Bank conducting several studies upon government requests

Key Findings

The Project Performance Assessment Report (PPAR) is the Independent Evaluation Group’s assessment of the World Banks’s lending operations for education programs in Jordan and covers two projects: Higher Education Development Project (HEDP) and Education Reform for the Knowledge Economy Project (ERfKE). The objective of the PPAR is to assess the development effectiveness and lessons arising from the two educational projects


Overview of Education in Jordan

·   Jordan’s economy depends on remittances from its skilled labor working abroad and external grants/loans from international and regional partners

·   The country is suffering from high unemployment rates while employing low skilled foreign labor in some sectors. High unemployment is largely due to rapid population and labor force growth in addition to mismatches between job expectations and skills needed. This indicates the need for rapid economic growth and education reforms to create employment matching population growth and market needs

·   Jordan’s education system has undergone rapid expansion over the past few decades and access has improved almost to the point of universal primary education. Jordan spends heavily on basic education reflecting the need to keep up with population growth, mainly by continuously building schools

·   The government has been concerned about the learning achievement and quality in addition to the relevance of the education and professional training being provided in higher education stating that these problems are mainly driven by management and governance deficiencies indicating the need to stress governance issues in education reform

Higher Education Development Project (HEDP)

·   A number of issues were noticed at the university level at the time of HEDP preparation that impacted Jordan's international competitiveness:

o   Universities and colleges lacked the necessary modern resources for modernizing programs of study

o   Lack of programs that cater to the needs of high-growth export sectors

o   Declining enrollment rates in community colleges and rising unemployment among graduates

o   Lack of effective policymaking advisory boards to assist decision makers in reforming the sector and making decisions on the allocation of resources

o   No strategy to link the allocation of resources in public university programs to the needs of the labor market

·   The objective of the project was to initiate improvements in the quality, relevance, and efficiency of higher education in Jordan and support the Kingdom’s program to reform the sector’s governance. The program had four components:

o   Initiate Improvements in Quality, Relevance, and Efficiency

o   Improving Sector Governance

o   Reform of the Community College System

o   Project Implementation Capacity

Improvements in Quality, Relevance and Efficiency

·   The objective of improving quality of higher education was achieved in the following ways:

o   Introduction of new computers and scientific equipment

o   Staff training

o   New technology and media in the majority of classes

o   Introduction of new academic programs

·   Employer survey results indicated dissatisfaction with graduates of community colleges despite the introduction of new academic programs under the Higher Education Development Fund (HEDF)

·   The goal of cost savings by reduction in excessive administration was not achieved and there was no evidence of improved efficiency in other aspects 

Improving Sector Governance

·   While the objective was to support the government’s program to reform sector governance, only few elements of the policy reforms package were achieved

·   The capacity of the Higher Education Accreditation Commission (HEAC) was augmented so that it became independent of the Higher Education Council and the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research

Education Reform for the Knowledge Economy Project (ERfKE)

·   The objective of the program is to support the government to transform the education system at the early childhood, basic, and secondary levels to produce graduates with skills necessary for the knowledge economy

·   The shift in the role of knowledge in the economy and the use of ICT made it necessary for Jordan to aim higher in its education goals leading to a decision for overall transformation of curriculum, teaching, and management as opposed to incremental improvements

·   The implementation arrangement included building capacity in the Ministry of Education and assigning a key role to the National Center for Human Resources Development

·   The program had four components where progress was made throughout implementation

o   Reorient Education Policy and Administration

§  Vision Forum 2002 delved into comprehensive and detailed National Strategy

§  Communications strategy was developed but not implemented

§  Directorate of Information and Computer Technology was established

§  The Innovation Fund awarded grants to schools

§  Monitoring measures were set up as part of policy analysis

o   Transform Education Programs and Practices for the Knowledge Economy

§  Formulation of new knowledge economy

§  Development of training plans for teachers to implement new curricula

§  Development of roll-out plans for new curricula

§  Procurement of science lab equipment

o   Support a Quality Physical Environment for Learning

§  This component was a program of civil works and cost more than all other components combined

§  The government constructed 41 new schools and renovated/extended 538 schools

§  New public kindergartens and rehabilitating classrooms were constructed

o   Promote Readiness for Learning through Early Childhood Education

§  Provided increased access in rural areas

§  Provided new curriculum and approach with extensive training and materials required

·   The program made good progress on improving the quality of learning outcomes, curricula, books, and teacher training

·   Improvements in TIMSS scores were recorded simultaneously with increased enrollment rates

·   Difficulties were experienced in getting stakeholder consensus on funding arrangements for recurrent higher education budgets

·   Although limited progress has been made, the higher education system can do much more to improve its quality and relevance to the labor market. This requires becoming actively linked in real time with the labor market and the economy, more up-to-date labor market information and private sector representation in the governance of universities, and community colleges to gain real-time and up-to-date perspectives on the labor market

·   Higher education curricula should continue to adapt to new secondary graduates who are educated under reformed curricula, and admission procedures should adapt to the criteria of the knowledge economy

Recommended Initiatives/Actions

Additional areas for potential improvement were identified by the report with an overview provided hereafter.


·   Recognize that higher education reforms require sustained efforts beyond the standard five-year project cycle

·   Develop a truly “national system of public higher education” by using increased levels of public subsidies

·   Improve the linkages in the reform of basic and higher education by making the curriculum reform consistent with higher order cognitive skills and admissions and examinations policies more consistent with the curricula

·   Improve the operational aspects of the concept of the knowledge economy and link it more closely with the National Agenda by setting up implementation structures that can monitor and evaluate the knowledge economy initiatives on a regular basis

·   Develop a labor market monitoring system for higher and basic education that makes full use of the quarterly surveys of employment/unemployment as well as tracers and special purpose surveys to determine trends in the labor market by sector and profession


Report Name



Project Performance Assessment Report: Higher Education Development Project and Education Reform for the Knowledge Economy project


Not Relevant


Supporting Donor

World Bank

World Bank


Lead Ministry

Education & Training

Ministry of Education

Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research

Key Topics

Academic programs – Community College – Development Fund – Economy – Higher Education – ICT – Job-Skills mismatch – Knowledge Economy –Labor Market – Primary Education –Reforms – Sector Governance – Training


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