AMMAN –– As a communication skills trainer, Samira Siouf felt that she “lacked something” despite her many years of service.

Working at the Queen Zein Al Sharaf Institute for Development for eight years, Siouf said that she was “good” at what she was doing, but could not attribute the communication methods she was teaching to their corresponding social sciences.

“It was teaching by experience, rather than by knowledge,” she told The Jordan Times on Wednesday.

After getting the chance to attend a three-month intensive course held by the Institute of International Cooperation of the German Adult Education Association (dvv international), Siouf said she felt more “confident” and better equipped to “fulfil the requirements of her job”.

Siouf was among 25 beneficiaries who received training under the Adult Education for Development programme, which was highlighted at a conference titled “Closing Gaps, Opening Opportunities: Adult Education and Lifelong Learning in the Middle East”, which opened on Wednesday.

Addressing the conference, HRH Princess Basma underlined the importance of the adult learning approach in building societies, ensuring the participation of everyone in the development process and eliminating poverty and unemployment.

“Lifelong learning was one of the strategies that we adopted in the work of the Jordanian Hashemite Fund for Human Development [JOHUD], but we used different names to describe what we were doing,” the princess said, noting that developing the capabilities of human resources was one of the terms used to refer to the fund’s activities.

Stressing the significance of education in alleviating the negative consequences of social and economic changes that affect the lives of the underprivileged, she cited a number of initiatives carried out by JOHUD, including the Algorithm Scientific Project in Disi, which managed to increase the academic achievements of more than 200 young local residents.

“…perhaps the outcomes of these strategic investments are not calculated in the national income; their impact on individuals, families and the local communities is not estimated in money, but in the changes they inflict on the their lives…,” added the princess.

Speaking at the conference’s opening ceremony, German Ambassador in Amman Ralph Tarraf noted that Jordan has become a regional hub for many activities and that his country perceives the Kingdom as an “integral” partner.

Tarraf highlighted Germany’s experience in vocational training and linking it with market needs.

Katrin Denys, regional director of dvv international in the Middle East, said the two-day conference provides a chance for “key players in the Middle East to join forces to promote lifelong learning and to improve learning opportunities for young adults”.

For his part, Jawad Al Gousous, dvv international’s country director in Jordan, noted that education is more than literacy and basic education, but extends to include all learning experiences at any stage of a person’s life, and is relevant to all individuals regardless of their background or income.

During the conference, participants from Jordan, Syria, Egypt, Palestine, Lebanon as well as regional and international organisations, are discussing means to ensure that adult education helps address issues in the region pertaining to politics, the economy and social development.

At the end of the opening ceremony, attended by Minister of Education and Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research Wajih Owais, Princess Basma presented certificates to graduates of the Adult Education for Development training programme.

The German Adult Education Association is the umbrella organisation of around 1,000 independent adult education centres all over Germany, according to dvv’s official website. dvv international is engaged in over 40 countries worldwide, fostering adult education as a means to reducing poverty and unemployment.

Most of dvv international’s activities are funded by the German federal ministry for economic cooperation and development, according to the website.