On the Occasion of the University of Jordan’s 50th Anniversary
10 December 2012
(Translated from Arabic)
In the name of God, the Most Merciful, the Compassionate
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
I congratulate the people and the homeland on the 50th anniversary of the University of Jordan, an emblem of a process of building and giving to which all Jordanians have contributed, as they undertook challenges with resolve and determination, and succeeded in building modern Jordan as a country capable of keeping up with world developments and the spirit of the age.
His Majesty the late King Hussein believed that investment in the Jordanian individual was the greatest investment. Therefore, he focused on education. The establishment of this university was a great challenge, but King Hussein’s strong will and Jordanians’ determination were bigger than any challenge or difficulty.
The achievements and standing of this university, along with its contribution to the remarkable progress in the higher education process, make us all proud.
We are also thankful and grateful to the first pioneers: Professors, researchers and administrative staff who worked with dedication and selflessly for this university to achieve what it boasts today.
It is my unshakable conviction that the youth are the engine that drives the development process; they are the vehicle and the purpose of development. Therefore, we should continue investing in the youth through education and training to equip them with skills and expertise that will nurture their creativity and enable them to excel.
On a different note, the role of youth should not be limited to the campus. Their talents and energy should be harnessed to effect positive change across the board and reflect in political participation that enables them to take part in decision making to build a better future for them and future generations.
All Jordanian universities are called upon to focus on the quality of higher education. Their job is not limited to the academic and educational aspects. It is their responsibility to help shape cultural and democratic awareness, enhance collective national identity based on the principles of citizenship and equality in rights and duties. You have to encourage your students to be more creative and distinguished achievers, to engage in voluntary work and help enroot a culture of dialogue, democratic values and respect of others’ opinions.
Over the past two years, we have achieved major political reforms and we are currently preparing for parliamentary elections. What role should you play in this major reform drive? You, the youth, constitute the largest segment of the population. It is the right of the majority, as well as its duty, to lead the march and effect the envisioned change.
The question on the table now is: How can the youth take part in the process and decision making? The answer: By spreading awareness of the vitality of change and identifying and debating the problems and challenges you face in the context of a national dialogue with political parties and forces, civil society and constitutional institutions. The aim is to work out solutions that should be incorporated in programmes to be voted on in the upcoming parliamentary elections.
Some of the questions that should be raised during this dialogue with political parties, tickets and individual candidates include, for example: How can we solve the problem of unemployment and generate jobs? How can we guarantee meritocracy and make sure that appointments and the provision of other economic opportunities are based on merit, qualifications and equal opportunity, away from wasta and favouritism? How to address on-campus violence? Through clear and realistic answers to these and other questions, you make your choice of the best candidate and ticket to elect. This way, the voice of the youth will be heard. It will influence decision making and change the status quo for the better.
You, the youth, have the responsibility to hold coming legislatures and parliamentary governments to account, judging them by the degree of their commitment to implementing their electoral platforms to address the problems and challenges you face.
I fully realise that the primary concern of young people is to find a job that ensures them a decent and secure livelihood. This kind of challenge is not facing Jordan alone. Each country adopts policies tailored to its own potential, resources and conditions. Universities, on the other hand, are required to adopt fresh policies and programmes based on the highest criteria and best practices in the region and the world. They are expected to design programmes for higher education and vocational and technical education to meet the requirements of globalisation and the labour market. In addition, they should create an environment of cooperative and sustainable efforts between higher education facilities that offer academic and vocational programmes, on the one hand, and the private and public sectors and civil society, on the other.
When we talk about creating new jobs, we have three options: Expanding the public sector, while ensuring high quality and efficiency under such difficult financial conditions; supporting the private sector by creating an investment-friendly environment; or providing the youth with facilities that empower them to start their independent, creative entrepreneurial projects.
The conditions we are going through these days are not new or unfamiliar to us. Since its creation, Jordan has suffered from limited resources and capabilities, as well as its location in the midst of a constantly unstable region. Nevertheless, Jordanians have overcome these difficult conditions, thanks to their resolve and sacrifices. In fact, they have succeeded in building a country whose achievements are applauded by everyone. It has been a pioneer in several fields, especially education and health care, let alone its leading, prominent role in defending Arab and Islamic causes.
The achievements made in Jordan’s reform process are but the first chapter in a long series of changes, and they serve as solid foundation for the entire process. The success of this process hinges on people’s awareness, as they are required to actively participate in political and partisan action. Such participation will take the country to the stage of parliamentary governments, which will empower people to play a key and direct part in decision making by selecting the most qualified persons to represent them in the coming Parliament. The larger the participation and the better the choice, the greater the change.
In this spirit, we launched today an initiative for democratic development under the umbrella of the King Abdullah II Fund for Development. It is designed to promote the values of dialogue, encourage civil participation and achieve sustainable political development by focusing on youth empowerment. We are all required to rise to the responsibility and the challenges facing our country.
When we ask, what does it mean to be Jordanian? The answer is: A true Jordanian is one who is proud of his/her identity and belonging to this country. A true Jordanian places the interests of his/her country before any other interest or consideration.
A true Jordanian, at times of crisis and difficulties for the country, transcends in dignity and faithfulness any other personal, partisan or regional interest and stands by his/her country as it rises to overcome the challenges.
A true Jordanian draws strength from the homeland, rather than trying to overpower the country or seize the opportunity to incite others against it.
A true Jordanian does not accept any agenda other than that serving his/her country and the ambitions and sacrifices of Jordanians.
A true Jordanian measures his/her real assets by the size of sacrifices, giving and achievement, rather than money and power.
A true Jordanian views the future and the modernisation process with determination and resolve, derives his/her strength and confidence in the future from faith in God Almighty and pride in the country’s history, heritage and noble values.
A true Jordanian does not accept failure, but rather defies and overcomes the impossible.
To be Jordanian means that we work hand in hand to maximise the achievements, perform our duties towards our country and fight all forms of extremism. Good citizenship and true belonging are measured by what we give to our country, rather than what we take from it.
Finally, I express my pride in and appreciation for this university and its achievements. We will continue supporting its march to enable it to carry out its noble message and role in advancing the Jordanian people and building a bright future for them, God willing.
God bless you.