Jordanian universities, especially the public ones, have been regressing for years. The student population has finally become more tribal than the society it hails from. Nonchalant attitudes by the government(s) and the purveyance of negative accountability have helped escalate the problem. For those who are interested in a solution, economic theory and research provide one.

Primarily, the problem can be traced to the following: Lack of funding for public universities deteriorated quality of instruction; mediocrity in management and appointments derailed academic instruction and research; and having over 70 per cent of students accepted on a tribal and non-academic basis lowered the quality of the students.

In addition, the fact that recent standardised exams have become not so standardised due to abhorrent levels of cheating and the leakage of exam questions has enabled system inequity and derogated the meritocracy upon which a system should based. And the fact that one’s tribe has become paramount in enabling entry into universities, passage in university courses, and employment upon graduation, have made the tribe, not the state and its institutions (including the university), a primary source and guarantee of one’s value.

If the tribe can get one into the system, guarantee his success during a vacuous experience (the learning process), and provide him with employment upon graduation at a state department, why should this young student fear or respect anyone but his tribe? And what do the university or the any of society’s institutions mean to him but a subsidy to the tribe, a rent that he should reap because he belongs to this or that tribe. Moreover, once he joins the workforce, he will only promote the welfare of the tribe (trainer, enabler, provider, and protector), not the country and its economy.

There is no substitute to revamping education at all levels; however, this requires funding and time, quite some time. More pressing is order and the safety of all Jordanians, which requires that the following four dictates be implemented with absolute haste and equity:

a) Punish offenders; start with throwing them out of university (unlike what happened in past years) and jail them according to law and without favouritism or discrimination — this makes the punishment severe and worthy of note by would-be offenders.

b) Increase security on campus (make guards act as police or have the police patrol universities, and install metal-detecting devices at universities and colleges) to enhance likelihood of apprehension.

c) Reduce the value of the clan/tribe in terms of impact on the daily life of a student by ensuring that all are equal under the same rules (which is one definition of democracy) and deter any such involvement before, during or after — Jordan is a modern state, not a salad bowl of clans and tribes.

d) Advertise such intentions to let all know what the results of violence will be.

Do all this and violence will come to an end!

ymansur@enconsult.com