Parents, children reel from kindergarten closure in Jordan as experts question gov’t decision

Children in grades from one to three were given the option to choose in-class or remote education

  
A teacher wears a protective suit as a woman brings her son to a nursery after the government eased the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) restrictions in Amman, Jordan June 8, 2020.

A teacher wears a protective suit as a woman brings her son to a nursery after the government eased the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) restrictions in Amman, Jordan June 8, 2020.

REUTERS/Muhammad Hamed

AMMAN — The government’s recent decision to suspend work of kindergartens for two weeks evoked discontent among parents, teachers and child experts over the financial, parental and psychological burdens of the move.

After assuring parents that the educational process will continue normally this semester, Minister of Education Tayseer Nuaimi recently announced that in light of a surge in number of local cases, the ministry has decided to suspend work of kindergartens, while children in grades from one to three were given the option to choose in-class or remote education.

The Ministry of Social Development, which oversees nurseries, said there is no government decision so far for the suspension of nurseries, according to its spokesperson Ashraf Khreis.

“As a working mother, how am I supposed to deal with two of my children going to school while my four-year-old is forced to stay at home? This is a great inconvenience, as now I am unable to find help on such short notice,” said Amani Ramez, a bank employee.

Yasmine Daajah, a project manager at a marketing agency, said that it “does not make sense” for nurseries and schools to be allowed to operate while suspending kindergartens.

“What is the logic behind this My five-year old is extremely confused and upset about not going to school while her brother and sisters do,” she added.

The Ministry of Education's decision to suspend kindergartens only has raised many questions among experts concerning its scientific basis.

“Children are not adults, they do not understand these on-and-off decisions to suspend or continue their education. The negative effects that will ensue from having the children go back to school for a week only to send them back home will become apparent in the next two weeks,” said child development expert Nadine Marei.

"It was noticeable during the ban that younger children had a difficult time understanding why they could not leave the house, so for them to be let out only for the state of panic and confusion to be renewed is inexcusable,” she added.

Marei noted that children have become less active and more attached to electronic devices, a change she said is sure to affect their physical health as well as their social and communication skills.

Soraya Sbaihi, a kindergarten teacher, said that the skills that the child acquires in kindergarten require direct interaction with the teacher and distance learning “proved to have failed in substituting for this”.

From her own experience, Sbaihi noted that distance learning did not fit the “nature of learning needed at this stage, especially that most children attended the online classes alone since their parents were busy.”

“The children would either leave the class to go play, not pay attention, or seem very confused as to what was happening. It was truly heartbreaking to see that this important preparation stage in their life was handled in this way,” Sbaihi said.

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