AMMAN — Arabs’ indulgence in politics instead of focusing on science and mathematics is the main reason behind the region’s low productivity, weak competitiveness and poor scientific research, HRH Prince Hassan said Thursday.

Speaking at a ceremony to honour winners of the 2013 El Hassan Bin Talal Award for Scientific Excellence, the prince, who is president of the Higher Council for Science and Technology (HCST), stressed the need for an “Arab mind revival”.

He called for a comprehensive endeavour incorporating political, economic and social elements for better intellectual and scientific development in the Arab region, referring to the “Arab Social Charter” that provides a framework for socio-economic security based on corporate social responsibility and active civil society participation.

The charter, which was formulated by intellectuals and academics from throughout the Arab world, was conceived with a view to promoting the values of liberty, equality, partnership and justice, noted the prince, who is also president of the Arab Thought Forum. He criticised the absence of a comprehensive vision and inclusive framework in Jordan and the Arab world, especially when it comes to proposing solutions to problems.

“How can there be investment without the state outlining its priorities… How can there be a democracy if the concept of compromise is lacking?” the prince asked.

This year’s award was allocated to institutions of vocational and technical education, according to HCST Secretary General Khaled Shraideh, who added that 12 applicants representing six institutions across the Kingdom participated.

Shraideh noted that the winning projects were evaluated according to five criteria: excellence (innovation, genuineness); community service; cooperation in implementing the project; the volume of achievement compared to the institution’s size and capabilities; and the project’s contents in terms of quality, inclusiveness and depth.

The first prize, valued at JD7,000, was granted to the Vocational Training Corporation (VTC) for three of its projects: the master plumber programme, which aims at training and accrediting semi-skilled and skilled technicians to serve the local and regional markets; the hospitality and tourism training programme; and the programme to enhance women’s involvement in the labour market, which primarily aims at empowering female participation in vocational training programmes, especially those linked with job opportunities, according to the HCST.

Al Huson University College won the second prize of JD5,000 for its “Al Huson Career Development Centre (CDC) — an innovative cluster in technical and vocational education”.

Established in 2008, the CDC aims at enhancing and building scientific, professional and personal capacities of students and graduates in the field of technical and vocational education.

The third prize of JD3,000 was awarded to the Wadi Seer Training Centre-UNRWA for its “Elevator Installation and Maintenance Programme”.

The UNRWA project, which in the first year qualified 13 technicians who were all employed by the private sector, seeks to prepare skilled technicians in elevator installation and maintenance for the local and regional markets.

Each of the three institutions displayed their winning projects at the Royal Cultural Centre, where the award ceremony was held.

Their Royal Highnesses Princess Sarvath, president of the award committee, Prince Raad, Chief Chamberlain, and Princess Sumaya, president of El Hassan Science City, attended the ceremony along with several ambassadors, ministers and public figures.

Launched in 1995 to encourage academic, scientific and technological activities, the award is granted annually to winners in one of three categories: institutions of general education, higher education, and vocational and technical education.