The National Council for Family Affairs (NCFA), in cooperation with UNHCR Jordan and the Chief Islamic Justice Department, has launched a guidebook addressing the “best interests of the child” from a legal standpoint.
Delivering a speech at the launch ceremony, Chief Islamic Justice Abdul Karim Khasawneh said that the principle is stipulated in Islam and helps guide legal decisions in Sharia courts when issuing rulings related to children, according to a NCFA issued on Saturday.
Muhammad Miqdadi, NCFA secretary general, said that Jordan has made great strides towards protecting children, referring to amendments to several laws.
Ministries of Labor, Health and Social Development, Royal Medical Services, NCFA and Employment-Technical and Vocational Education and Training Fund (E-TVET Fund) signed three cooperation agreements in implementation of the “National employment Program” to establish 23 nurseries under its “Support and Activation of the Establishment of Nurseries in the Public and Private Sectors Project” aimed to encourage women to engage in the labor market which is one of the projects of the National Employment Strategy.
Agreements were signed by Minister of Health Mahmoud Al-Shayyab, Minster of Social Development Hala Bseiso, Acting NCFA Secretary General Mohammad Miqdady and Royal Medical Services General Director Dr. Muein Al-Habashneh.
Agreements aim to establish nurseries in the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Social Development and the Royal Medical Services and its affiliate directorates and provide job opportunities within these nurseries for female job seekers listed in the Civil Service Bureau.
Minister of Labor/Chairman of the Board at (E-TVET Fund) Samir Said Murad said that the Ministry seeks to affirm the rights of women and working mothers through legislation such as Article (72) of the Labor Law which obligates the existence of on-site nurseries for working mothers.
Dr. Shayyab pointed out that the availability of nurseries in all ministries and public and private institutions reflects and even exceeds the many positive improvements witnessed at the level of the family and society in this regard. This demands the collaboration of governmental and non-governmental efforts to raise awareness on the rights of working mothers to have nurseries at their workplaces.
On her part, Bseiso underlined that the establishment of nurseries in the public and private sectors comes in implementation of existing legislation and helps to provide proper environment for working mothers, achieve social and psychological stability for them and encourage them to engage in a variety of jobs.
“The agreements focus on the National Human Resource Development Strategy one of the pillars of which is early childhood care and development”, said Dr. Mohammad Hamdan, member of NCFA’s Board of Trustees, noting that the objective is to establish 80 nurseries, train around 700 girls and provide 500 work opportunities in the area of early childhood.
“The establishment of nurseries increases the percentage of women participation in the labor market and enhances the options available for women by removing obstacles and offering flexible choices and an appropriate work environment”, said Habashneh the Director of the Royal Medical Services.
On his part, Miqdady indicated that the signing is in implementation of the National Employment Strategy launched by the government and in complementation to a cooperation agreement between NCFA and the Ministry of Labor signed earlier to establish 80 nurseries in the public and private sectors. The national program, as Miqdady emphasized, serves as a model for the participatory approach that HM King Abdullah calls for among government institutions, NGOs and the private sector.
As Miqdady outlined, NCFA seeks to make these nurseries a nucleus for a specialized comprehensive center for early childhood which serves children according to up-to-date educational programs and provides work opportunities for graduates specialized in Child Education in addition to being a center for early childhood studies.
Minister of Education and Member of NCFA’s Board of Trustees, Omar Al-Razzaz, said that the Ministry is not behind closed doors when it comes to its responsibility for education in Jordan. It is actually at the core of a genuine participatory work that addresses all issues facing the educational process in Jordan including the phenomenon of school bullying.
Razzaz underlined that the Ministry’s success in handling the twenty first century challenges demands the collaboration of various multi-disciplinary entities to stand against this phenomenon and other pedagogical and educational challenges.
In the seminar organized by NCFA titled “School Bullying” held at the Al-Hussein Cultural Center in Ras Al-Ein, Razzaz stressed the need to identify the nature, size, and causes of this problem and put forward appropriate solutions. He also reiterated the Ministry’s rejection of all forms of violence and its commitment to address the issue in cooperation with governmental and non-governmental entities and civil society organization concerned with this issue.
Razzaz emphasized the need to transform all notes and comments raised during the brainstorming into a program of action which identifies, diagnoses, and finds solutions to the problem, highlighting that the Ministry will start devoting 20% of each school day and summer programs to school activities (voluntary day, sports, arts and media) as of next year. In addition, the Ministry will work to activate the safe environment school boards so that everyone will feel as if s/he is part of the solution, he added.
Concluding, Razzaz called on experts, specialists and representatives from governmental and non-governmental organizations, Public Security Directorate and civil society organizations to engage with the Ministry in handling this phenomenon and provide substance and initiatives for enhancing school activities which are overseen by the Ministry for the time being.
NCFA’s Acting Secretary General Mohammad Miqdady illustrated that bullying is another type of violence that spreads among school children in many forms including physical and psychological harm.
Violence in all forms has multiple social, educational and health-related impacts and addressing this issue through a participatory approach in terms of prevention, protection and cure is very crucial, concluded Miqdady.
Attending the seminar, educational consultants in the area of the family discussed the forms and causes of bullying; characteristics and ways of handling bullies; ways of incorporating principles of family counseling into school counseling programs; and development of preventive and remedial programs specialized in this area.
In their speeches, representatives from the Ministries of Health and Education, Juvenile Police Department in the Public Security Directorate, Electronic Crimes Unit in the Criminal Investigation Department and media outlets focused on national statistics in this regard. They also discussed the role of laws and legislation in handling this phenomenon, cyberbullying on social media among students and recommendations for addressing it, the availability of services and the effectiveness of relevant institutions, families and media outlets in combating this issue.
During the seminar, NCFA presented an electronic questionnaire on bullying gauging the opinions of 89 male and female students from different Jordanian governorates from the age group of (12-18) years. Findings showed that bullying took several shapes including mockery, swearing, insults, rejection and beating. As for nicknames used for calling the bullies, answers included scoundrel, problem-maker and thugs; although some answers included nicknames that symbolize power and strength like “big boss” and “John Cena”.
At the end of the seminar, panelists agreed on a set of recommendations including the formulation of a national plan of action to address this issue and strengthening the sense of belonging among students to their school. They also recommended considering all parties involved in this phenomenon (bullies, the victims and the bystanders) as victims who need help psychologically, socially and educationally; some indicated that bullying may affect the academic achievement of students and may lead to depression or suicide in some cases.
They also stressed the need to have a unified reference authority to monitor this phenomenon and engage all actors involved in the education process and the family to address this issue. Recommendations also included the training of teachers, school counselors and students on necessary skills to handle this problem.
From students’ perspective on how to reduce bullying, Abdul Razzaq Nsour and Nagham Al-Asily called on the Ministry and relevant parties to engage students in fighting bullying in their schools through student mediation.