Nafez is the CEO of the Queen Rania Foundation’s London office where he oversees the foundation’s strategic partnerships and talent development. He also leads the foundations engagement with the education entrepreneurship sector across MENA and globally. Under Nafez’s leadership the foundation recently launched the first education entrepreneurship competition for startups based in the Arab world.
Prior to this role, Nafez founded Edraak.org, the largest Arabic online education portal that reaches over 2.5 million learners across the MENA region – where he is now the Executive Chairman. An initiative of the Queen Rania Foundation, Edraak’s learners come from all across the region and include disadvantaged youth in Gaza, Syria, and Iraq. Edraak has played a pivotal role in the setup of other open learning platforms across the region. Nafez was recognized for his work at Edraak as one of the top 50 “Makers+Shakers” in education technology globally by EdtechXGlobal in 2016; and received the Order of Independence First Class on behalf of Edraak from HM Abdullah II King of Jordan in 2017.
Previously, Nafez was a strategy consultant working with different governments across the GCC, focusing on education to employment transitions. Nafez writes on education reform and technology regularly in Arabic and English publications (including the Stanford Social Innovation Review, Harvard Business Review Arabic and Edsurge). While at Yale he completed a yearlong, award-winning, thesis on the Obstacles towards Curriculum Reform in the Middle East, using Jordan and the UAE as case studies, of which the Mohammed Bin Rashed School of Government in the UAE published an executive summary in 2011.
Leveraging positive deviance to identify Arabic literacy strategies in Jordanian public schools
There is a crisis of literacy across the Arab world. The Queen Rania Foundation is working with out-performing schools in Jordan to identify good examples of positive deviance that could potentially be scaled nationally – and adapted regionally.
The paramount challenge to development today in Jordan and across the Arab world is the low levels of Arabic literacy. It is estimated by the World Bank that almost 60% of children in the region cannot read for comprehension by age 10. The acquisition of Arabic literacy is made particularly complicated by the diglossic nature of the language (where written and spoken Arabic may diverge significantly) that often means there is added cognitive load when students are trying to learn in their “native language”. Literacy is the gateway to learning and will be the challenge that defines our region’s future.
Many Jordanian schools work in challenging contexts, and with few resources, exacerbating the literacy crisis experienced in the country. Multiple reform efforts inspired by international examples have been implemented in Jordan with little sustainability. While education reform efforts across Jordan have done a good job of following good practice globally, not enough has been done to find out what already works from within the system. These examples of “positive deviance” are important particularly for a low-income country like Jordan because they present uncommon but successful behaviors and strategies that have emerged locally within existing constraints. Furthermore, because these solutions emerge from local communities they have a better chance of being shared and adopted across the country.
Based on an analysis of the 2017 EGRA (Early Grade Reading Assessment) results for 2nd and 3rd grades, QRF has been able to identify a small number of ‘out-performing’ schools whose students were achieving high levels of literacy. These schools are often in areas with few resources, challenging environments, and communities. They are a prime example of positive deviance.
This presentation will provide an overview of our work and share some of the preliminary findings from our analysis.