Jordan/ 8.3 Arts and cultural education  

8.3.1 Institutional overview

Arts are part of the curriculum and are given to students once a week under the course title of Art Education. Theatre is informally taught as workshops depending on the availability of a theatre/drama teacher at the Ministry of Education, the same applies to music. Most importantly for arts education is that the arts fall under the Department of Activities, and the grades achieved are not accounted for in the end-of-year grade scores. Additionally, arts classes are suspended after 9th grade. This indicates that the arts are viewed as a leisurely activity and not subjects that students may consider as a career option. The contradiction with this is that public universities offer BA programs in visual arts, music and theatre. However with the current status of art education at school, the level and attitude of art students is not of good standards, where it could provide university teachers enough groundwork from which they can take the students’ education forward to a university level.

Also, an art teacher working with the Ministry of Education pointed out in conversation that as the art teacher is monitored by the Department of Activities, the level of attention given to art class depends on whether the head of the department of activities is an artist, dramatist or physical education specialist; according to this person’s specialisation, attention may be given to art class, or not. Also, during the discussion, it was pointed out that the art teachers themselves do not have an interest in teaching the subject. This results in the class not being taken seriously by the students. Finally, it was also conclusive that the type of art activities are mainly focused around national activities, meaning that assignments are given on the occasion of a national celebration, and not about inward self-expression.[1] This also draws us to conclude that the art teachers themselves, even if they were passionate and dedicated, are still limited in their understanding of the term ‘creative expression’.

Finally, the teacher also mentioned that there are differences between the course material in the books used by the students for art education and the art teachers’ manual for teaching the course. This discrepancy on the one hand leaves room for confusion for the teacher, and on the other, raises the question of an ulterior motive - if any - that may lie in the need to have discrepancies between the two. There are text books for art education, but the technique and the structure of teaching art is very outdated and archaic, and is counteractive to the notion of using creativity as a form of individual expression. As for Crafts education this course runs under a separate department, but it faces the same problems as art education.

Several public and private universities offer a range of fine art, design, music, TV and film production programs as well as theatrical studies. The highest numbers of students tend to be in applied arts, such as design, graphic design, interior design and architecture. Also, courses in Islamic Art, Islamic Architecture and Music are offered in the University of Al al-Albayt.

The standard of education specifically in public universities is proven to be of mediocre standard. Private universities offer a slightly better standard of education, but still the quality varies and is dictated by the tutors giving the courses and not by the department.

[1]               Dr. Ahmad Hattar interview at Ministry of Culture, August 2009


Chapter published: 04-05-2016