Enhancing Civic Responsibility Among Youth in Schools Project: Executive Summary

The Center for the Study of the Built Environment (CSBE) initiated and implemented the ‘Enhancing Civic Responsibility Among Youth in Schools Project’ from December 2015 until February 2016. The aim of this pilot project is to promote civic engagement and civic responsibility, and also build up a sense of belonging among students, their families, and other members of the community towards the public sphere. The project furthermore aims at enabling and facilitating the creation of an environment that gives students and other members of the community a sense of empowerment and that allows them to become agents of positive change through participatory processes.

The project provided public-school students with opportunities to take part in designing and implementing improvements to their school grounds. In collaboration with the Queen Rania Teacher Academy (QRTA), three public schools in the ‘Ayn al-Basha area at the outskirts of Amman were selected. The selection process focused on schools located in less privileged areas where the administration is open to such an activity, and where a clear need for grounds improvement is evident. The three selected schools are the Rumman School for Boys, the Safout School for Boys, and the Salhoub School for Girls. Students from different grade levels were selected to participate in the project for the pilot: The 7th grade class at Safout, the 9th grade at Salhoub, and a mixture of students from grades 5-10 at al-Rumman.

Several interactive sessions were conducted with the students and their teachers. During the first phase of the project, CSBE introduced students to the different stages of the design process, and worked closely with them in order to determine the improvements they wished to see in their school grounds. During the second phase of the project, the students participated in the implementation of the construction and finishing works, and came up with plans to maintain and sustain the improvements.

Several improvements were identified through the participatory design process, and were implemented at each of the partner schools. The students at the Rumman School for Boys expressed an interest in transforming their asphalt playground into an outdoor football field, which was implemented by installing an acrylic-based sports surfacing. In addition, goal posts and floodlights were installed to enhance the play experience. The Safout School for Boys has a scattered campus containing two buildings that are located on a sloping site. This required the students to walk a long way and across difficult changes in ground level in order to move between the upper and the lower building of the campus. The students accordingly asked for a staircase that would connect the two buildings. At the Safout School for Girls, students expressed interest in having an outdoor shaded classroom and a herb garden. CSBE implemented each of these improvements, and also worked with the mural artist Suhaib Attar to create a mural at each school representing a theme of the students’ choosing.

Due to an unanticipated shortage of funds, CSBE had to embark on a fundraising campaign to cover the cost of the aforementioned improvements. CSBE obtained cash donations from Zain Jordan, Ivy Hygiene Solutions, as well as from various friends and colleagues. CSBE also obtained in-kind donations from Musco Lighting, Ur Garden, and National Paints.

In addition, CSBE produced a guide that explains and documents the participatory design process. The guide is available for use by any party that wishes to implement a similar initiative with school-age children. 

The project was funded by the USAID Civic Initiatives Support Program through a standard grant initiated and supported by FHI 360. The grant included a 5% grantee cost share requirement. CSBE’s cost share contribution was JD 22,265, which meant that we exceeded our cost share obligation by more than four times.

Project team:

Zein Abu Hassan, Research and Coordination Officer (September 2016 – November 2016)

Yasmine Abuzeid, Research and Coordination Officer

Mohammad al-Asad, Director

Ali Attari, Research and Coordination Officer

Afnan Barqawi, Research and Coordination Officer

Samia Kayyali, Research and Coordination Consultant (December 2015 – April 2016)

Sandy Naffa, Research and Coordination Officer (March 2016 – August 2016)

Tooma Zaghloul, Research and Coordination Officer (December 2015 – May 2016)

Lara Zureikat, Associate Director and Project Manager

Project Contractor:

Mohammad Khalifeh

Construction Consultants:

Maher al-Horani: Supervision

Mais al-Masri: Contracts Consultant

Ghandi Janbek: Structural Design

QRTA Members:

Ghada Kharabsheh

Norma Nemeh

Reem al-Far

Raeda Qussar


Grant amount: JD 105,960

In-kind contributions and donations: JD 22,265