Delivering quality and scale of early learning in Jordan: What role for the private sector?

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Amman, Jordan

Human capital development is a core strategic aim of the Government of Jordan

Jordan has a population of more than 10 million, 36% of whom are under the age of 14. It has long recognised the value of investing in its human capital and has launched national education reform initiatives to improve the accessibility and quality of education. Enshrined in its constitution is the right for all children to ten years of schooling, and 97% (Jordanian and non-Jordanian) are now enrolled. But enrollment rates for pre-primary education remain low, especially for children from poorer backgrounds, and the number of classroom seats insufficient to serve the population. Studies show that access to pre-primary education improves educational performance and self-control, as measured by behaviours such as attention, effort, class participation, and discipline. The public sector manages only a small percentage of pre-primary classrooms and does not have the resources to expand this footprint.

Supply and demand constraints currently limit early childhood provision

I was struck that both supply- and demand-side factors were at play in East Amman, limiting the sector’s ability to expand. I heard multiple stakeholders refer to the strict and inflexible licensing requirements as a key challenge to sourcing additional classroom space. Providers also told me that households’ price sensitivity limited how high tuition rates could be set.

Social outcomes contracts may be an effective way to safeguard quality at scale

The Ministry of Education understands that an ambition to expand without an equally focused effort to assure quality would be near-sighted. Recent assessments found that as many as a quarter of Year 1 students missed at least one domain target on the Early Development Instrument. Even with its strict licensing requirements, the Ministry has limited visibility of the quality of pre-primary instruction and few levers at its disposal to assure it. A push to expand provision that does not meet quality standards wouldn’t maximise the full benefits of broader early childhood education.

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