Amman Through The Eyes of Haifa Najjar
Haifa Najjar, member of the Upper House of the Parliament and the Superintendent of the Ahliyyah School for Girls (ASG) and the Bishop’s School (BSA) for Boys, is an eminent figure in the field of education in Jordan and internationally. She holds a Masters degree in Transformation Management.
She is highly qualified as a Director in Leadership and School Management. In addition to possessing a unique vision and practice in the educational area in general, Mrs. Najjar is a member of several committees and boards including the International Baccalaureate Heads Council (HC-IB), Regional Council (RC-IB). Mrs. Najjar is the head of the Technical Committee of The Queen Rania Award for Excellence in Education and a member of Board of Trustees of the European Council of International Schools (ECIS). In addition, she is the President of The Business and Professional Women Association / Amman. Mrs. Najjar is a member of the Economic and Social Council and the head of the Educational Policies Committee for the Economic and Social Council. She is a member of the council of Education in Jordan, the National Alliance Group to Fight Violence Against Children in Schools, the Steering Committee for MA’AN Campaign to Fight Violence Against Children in Schools and the Head of the Technical Committee of MA’AN Campaign to Fight Violence Against Children in Schools. She was a Board Member of The Greater Municipality of Amman, a founding member of the Board of Trustees of The King’s Academy and she served on the Higher Council of Youth in Jordan.
She believes in the empowerment of women in Jordan and throughout the world, and acts upon this belief in all her dealings. Mrs. Najjar was lately elected as one of the 30 powerful and 10 most influential people in Jordan.
Get in touch - @haifanajjar
- You are considered the education guru in the city, how has this experience shaped you as a person? How do you see the development of education in the city?
I do not view myself as a "guru in the city", but a passionate educator who believes that education, particularly women's education is a liberating and mind opening experience. In fact, true learning is a humbling experience. The more you know, the more you realize there is still much more to learn.
As for the development of education in Amman and the whole of Jordan, I believe we still have a long way to go. In general schools are still traditional despite all the attention education has received lately; I mean this in the sense that we need to view education with more open minds. A lot of effort is yet needed as we must invest in humans as much as we can so that they have the means and the know-how to generate knowledge in a dynamic manner. Learning is a never ending journey; however, to reach an advanced level in this we still have a rather long way to go.
- You’ve lived in Amman your whole life, what is the biggest single positive change you’ve seen in the city over the years?
I was brought up in Zerqa, actually, and then moved on to Amman later on during my youth. As for the biggest positive change in Amman, I consider that to be the latest developments accomplished by the Amman Municipality, among which is the endeavor to link West and East Amman. I also admire and support their vision for public transport to protect and preserve the spirit of the city.
- Where do you stand on the current debate over the BRT (Bus Rapid Transit)?
I honestly am with in support of the BRT. The BRT and the thinking behind it demonstrate that Amman is a modern city.
- How do you feel about difference in education system or curriculum between public and private schools? What is something you’d like to change with regards to that?
There is a wide gap between the two that is due to a variety of complex causes. What needs to be done is a bridging of this gap, mainly through stronger partnerships and networking in addition to devising plans to develop the education scene in Jordan.
Both the private and the public education need to work on citizenship, enlightenment and balancing between rationalism, ethics and critical thinking on inviting our shared humanity and wisdom back.
- What is your average Friday in Amman like?
It is a family day where I enjoy sitting among my family, enjoying a lavish breakfast, chatting and bonding at many levels.
- What are some of your memories growing up in Amman?
Going downtown, eating Kunafa at Jabri, having lunch at Al-Urdon Restaurant, visiting Jabal Al-Qal'a and feeling that we are above the whole world.
- If someone is new in the city, what is a must see?
The Ahliyyah school for Girls and the Bishop's School for Boys, Rainbow street, Amman Citadel, the Roman amphitheatre, Al balad Theatre, Downtown.
- When you think of Amman, what words come to mind?
What comes to mind is what I always tell my ASG and BSA families: Amman is at the heart of the world!
I also think of Culture and Modernity, History, Olive trees, the aroma of Arabic coffee, the taste of Zeit and Za'tar, warmth and open hearts.
- What is your favorite Amman based initiative, company or invention?
Not restricted to, but inclusive of: The partnership between ASG and BSA, Ruwwad Center, Queen Rania Initiative for Excellence in Education, Hamzat Wasel.
- We must ask this – as a Senator in the Jordanian parliament, if you could press a button to change 1 thing in Amman what would it be?
Public Transportation: we need to develop our vision and provide a rational assessment of this, where public transportation is accessible, wide-spread, and part of the culture of lifestyle in modern Amman. We need to shift our paradigms to fulfill this.
- What is your favorite ‘Jabal’ in Amman? Why?
Jabal Amman, first circle: the beginning of schools, modern Amman, rich in diversity, pulsates true Ammani goodness yet reflects the heart of modernity.