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HRH Princess Sarvath El Hassan: oration

Read Professor Colin Grant's oration on HRH Princess Sarvath El Hassan for the honorary degree of Doctor of Education in June 2015.


Princess Sarvath El Hassan represents a pioneering force in education, the influence of which has transformed the opportunities available for young people within Jordan and throughout the region. In 1981 Her Royal Highness founded the Amman Baccalaureate School (ABS), a prestigious co-educational school providing an international learning experience while remaining firmly rooted in the Arab Islamic heritage and culture.

The ABS was the first in both Jordan and the Middle East to offer the International Baccalaureate, and 34 years later, it continues to break ground in achievement and innovation. This year the school was accredited to offer the IB Primary Years Programme, with a unique bilingual curriculum, making it the only school in Jordan, and one of twenty–four schools worldwide, to offer all four IB programmes. A longstanding advocate of interdisciplinary learning, Her Royal Highness has insisted that the school embrace an understanding of education that extends beyond the classroom and that resonates with every child. In another first, not just for the school, but indeed for the world, the ABS has been accredited by the World Academy of Sport as an Athlete Friendly Education Centre. This means that the School can better support its highest performing athletes through an environment that balances their training commitments and academic studies. The new IB College Building will be the first Academic Institution in Jordan to receive the LEED GOLD medal – the medal for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design.

Fearless and unwavering in her commitment to inclusive and multi-dimensional learning, upon her appointment as a member of the IB Council of Foundation, HRH tabled the issue of bias towards the Anglo Saxon tradition within the international component of the curriculum, which made no provision for the study of Arabic, Chinese or Persian at the Higher IB Levels. There was also a conspicuous lack of inclusion of a history or geography syllabus about the Islamic and Arab World. HRH made the inclusion of such subjects that would elevate the authenticity of the IB in the Muslim and Arab World to her ‘cause célèbre'. Today, IB schools can be found in all 22 Arab countries.

‘Elite’ is a fitting description of Her Royal Highness’ approach to education in terms of educational standards and progressive learning philosophy. Her Highness has championed the notion that excellence in education is a right to be enjoyed by all, and not merely the privileged few. She has made this a reality at the ABS through excellence scholarships and bursaries for needy students. At the same time she has striven to address the needs of students with learning difficulties. Under the aegis of the Young Muslim Women’s Association, she founded the Bunayat Centre for Learning Difficulties, and a Sheltered Workshop for young men and women with special needs which was recognised by the ILO as a model for the region. Recognising the need to get girls into the work force, Princess Sarvath founded a Community College, which provides high school leavers a two year professional training in various fields as well as hosting teacher training courses to diagnose and assist special-needs students.

These achievements are but a few in a long history that showcases Her Highness’s commitment to educational opportunity. Through the work of our Department of Education, and particularly that of Professor Jeff Thompson and colleagues in the Department’s Centre for the study of Education in an International Context, we have been inspired by her influence in promoting international education worldwide. Today, we celebrate and honour the achievements of a longstanding and influential supporter of inspiring young people to create a better and more peaceful world. Chancellor I present HRH Princess Sarvath El Hassan who is eminently worthy to receive the degree of Doctor of Education, honoris causa.

Professor Colin Grant

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