The Economic Policy Development Forum held its 9th General Assembly meeting at Talal Abu-Ghazaleh Business Forum in the presence of the Forum’s committee members.
At the start, Forum president Dr. Talal Abu-Ghazaleh welcomed the attendees and tackled two main issues. One local relating to the passing of the lifetime pension law for members of the Jordanian two houses, the Parliament and the Senate. The other, global, relating to the World Trade Organization’s high panel formed to identify the economic and trade challenges facing the world in the 21st Century.
On the local level, Abu-Ghazaleh reiterated his rejection to the lifetime pension law for deputies and senators mainly as the country is currently suffering a huge budget deficit. Abu Ghazaleh recommended that the law be revised or amended on the grounds that lifetime pensions for those who only served for short periods, or for those whose financial means are large will increase the burden on the taxpayer enormously and that should not happen, he said. He also called on the government to reveal in accurate figures the amount of money needed to meet this huge and retroactive obligation, reminding of the news that the former prime minister of Iceland is being tried for misleading the public by hiding the facts that lead to the country’s bankruptcy.
The general assembly has unanimously endorsed and commended Abu-Ghazaleh’s stand.
On the other issue,Abu-Ghazaleh informed the Assembly that the WTO Director-General Mr. Pascal Lamy announced on April 13, 2012 the establishment of a panel of experts whose mission would be to examine and diagnose the challenges facing global trade and economy in the 21st Century.
He said the panel will hold its first meeting on May 16, 2012 in Geneva.
Meanwhile, Forum members discussed the report of the Committee on Important Challenges, in addition to a paper on education and higher education which was endorsed by the General Assembly.
The education paper discussed in details the significance of the education sector stating that higher education suffers from a number of deficiencies on several fronts mainly on legislation, laws, regulations, finance, human resources and scientific research.
With respect to public education, the paper stressed a number of challenges on some major aspects relating to planning, inputs (teachers and administrators), outputs, exams, evaluation and vocational education.
The paper mentioned the main reasons for considering these angles as an essential step towards conducting studies and updating data as follows:
The public education sector constitutes the main initial uplift of the national economy in terms of qualifying the workforce and its empowerment in all productive and service sectors.
Education outputs are the inputs of the higher education; the outputs of the basic education are the inputs of the vocational and industrial education.
Public education makes a real partnership in the public and private sectors; this partnership makes 25-30 percent of the sectors’ magnitude.
Public education has remarkable effect on the provision of services and in determining their quality in the rural, urban and desert areas.
Public education institutions are distributed throughout a vast geographical area in the country. Public education is considered a long-term investment, and though investment in this sector is very costly, failure to create investments in this sector would be more expensive.
This sector has human, social, political and economic dimensions added to the regional and international ones mainly after Jordan’s signing of the Free Trade Agreement which concentrates on services and on top of these the education services.
The magnitude of this sector could be summarized as follows:
There are 6007 schools throughout Jordan’s governorates, of which 1422 are secondary schools run by 14119 administrators and 102633 teachers.
The budget of the Ministry of Education is the highest in the country. In the last ten years, the cost of development projects affiliated with the Education Ministry reached $700 million, mainly the education development project towards the knowledge economy Phase One.
The annual rate of growth in this sector exceeds 5 percent.
There are community entities (formal and non-formal) that put education sector at the top of their priorities such as the family, the government, the Parliament, the recruitment entities, profession-organizing bodies, international organizations, workers and investors in this sector.
The education and higher education task force which is within the Committee on Important Challenges is composed of Dr. Hisham Gharaibeh, Dr. Isam Za’balawi, Dr. Mohammad Khir Abu-Qdees, Mr. Ayman Mazahreh, Mr. Mohammad Saqr, Dr. Ahmad Heyasat, Dr. Qasem Al Hammori, Dr. Bashir Al Zubi, Dr. Mohy El Din Touq and Mr. Tareq Hammad.