Although Jordan's education system is considered one of the best in the Arab world, the language barrier deters most expat parents from enrolling their children in local public schools. Since classes are taught in Arabic, it can be daunting to propel an expat child into such unfamiliar territory.
That said, very young children are able to adopt a new language much faster than teens or adults. Learning Arabic and growing up alongside local children can help them to assimilate culturally, making public schools a useful option for those planning to stay in Jordan for the long haul.
For globally mobile families or those with older children or teens, private international schools are generally the first choice.
Public school in Jordan
Those who are able to enrol their children in Jordanian public school will find that the country's model of education is advanced. Public schools are free to attend and school books are usually also supplied at no cost.
Schooling is divided into primary school and secondary school. Mandatory school attendance is from ages 5 to 15. For all but Christian students, Islamic Studies is a compulsory subject in secondary school.
Once students turn 15, they have the option of leaving school or continuing for another two years. If they choose to continue, there are two possible streams to follow: the academic stream, which prepares students for university, or the vocational stream, which prepares students for community colleges or the job market.
International schools in Jordan
Despite the sometimes astronomical price of school fees for international schools, most expat parents choose to take this route. This makes it possible for children to be educated in English, often in a curriculum that is familiar to them. A variety of curricula are on offer, from American, French and British, to the globally recognised International Baccalaureate. This results in as little disruption of the child's education as possible, and the continuity can be reassuring in a situation where so many other things are different and new.
Places at these schools are limited so it is advised that parents start the application process early. Schools might require students to write entry tests and are likely to request reports from previous schools or recommendations. They may also require the child to come into the school for an interview.
Special needs education in Jordan
Although there has been some progress in the realm of special needs education in Jordan over the past couple of decades, the infrastructure in place is still inadequate for dealing with a broad spectrum of disabilities. Special education services are extended to a very small minority of the population that needs some extra support. Accordingly, the vast majority of students with behavioural and physical disabilities are educated at home with very minimal professional support afforded to them or their families.
While Jordanian society may be somewhat more progressive than those is more traditional Islamic countries in the Middle East, there is still a lot of stigma attached to disability which prevents many families from seeking the assistance they require.
Tutors in Jordan
Expats looking to provide their child with some extra academic support should start by enquiring at the child's school with regards to recommended private tutors. It will be important to find a tutor that is familiar with the particular curriculum the student is following. The private tutoring industry in Jordan may not be as well established as in other countries, but parents will find a good offering of qualified professionals especially in big cities such as Amman.