In the name of God the most Merciful, the most Compassionate,
My brothers and sisters, the sons and daughters of our beloved Jordan,
I greet you with much affection and appreciation.
As I write this letter, I am well aware that you never expected me, Um Hussein, to address you with a message that carries within it a sense of disappointment, but, as family members say to each other, “sometimes disappointment comes from a place of love.” As I put pen to paper, I am all but certain that many will criticize and disapprove of my speaking out – even those who have my best interests at heart – and I will undoubtedly hear the comment “you shouldn’t have spoken out yourself.”
However, times have changed, and what applied in the past is no longer valid. Today, social media can serve as either the greatest champion or enemy of the truth – with many abusing these platforms to bully, to sow doubt in every achievement, and to stifle every glimmer of hope.
For a while, I thought I had grown accustomed to being intentionally thrust out of nowhere into debates occupying public opinion – that is, until the recent teachers’ strike, which has thankfully ended with the return of our students to their schools. This time, I found myself in the eye of the storm and at the center of a disproportionate smear campaign, with no idea why I had been dragged into it! Nonetheless, throughout the recent weeks of public sparring, I refrained from commenting to avoid being accused of trying to hijack the conversation. But we all have a responsibility towards the truth, at all times.
I would have hoped that 26 years of public service in the areas of family and child protection, the empowerment of local communities and women, and initiatives like the education of orphans were enough to prove my intentions. I have strived to give the very best to our Jordan, and never hesitated from doing what I thought was right.
When I first decided to contribute to national education reform efforts, I understood that the road ahead would not be easy, and many advised me to avoid the “headache.” But I believed then, as I do now, that our children deserve the best, and that education is the cornerstone of social justice and equal opportunities.
I visited hundreds of schools and spoke with thousands of teachers and students, and I launched initiatives to help bridge some of the gaps I saw in our education system. I did so in the hope that they would offer new models or approaches that can address some of our challenges. My goal was never to adopt our education system in its entirety, or to implement comprehensive education solutions – that was, and will always be, the responsibility of the Ministry of Education, a much-respected institution.
I put teachers at the forefront of my efforts, because to me no other profession holds a higher status. How could I not, when teachers are the very heart and foundation of the educational process? I launched the Excellence in Education award for distinguished teachers and principals and worked to bring the best training programs to empower our educators and arm them with the skills they need.
When I established the Teacher Academy, I ensured at the time that it would not place any financial burdens on our local resources. Its team worked tirelessly to provide teachers with the most effective in-service training programs to improve the quality of our children’s education.
In 2016, following a significant decline in the competitiveness of our education system in global rankings, the National Strategy for Human Resource Development highlighted the critical need to skill teachers before they enter the classroom – something I had sensed in field.
Without hesitation and with complete conviction, the Teacher Academy collaborated with the Ministry of Education – this time, with governmental support –on the establishment of a teacher education professional diploma program to prepare the most competent teachers. We would never accept an unqualified doctor or engineer for ourselves, so how could we not aspire for the best-trained teachers for our children?
I was honored to offer our country an achievement we could all be proud of: an academy and a beacon of knowledge for Jordan’s educators. It filled me with joy to stand at His Majesty’s side and present the country with a distinguished learning institution, one that reinforces His Majesty’s and Jordanians’ appreciation of our teachers. My resolve was strengthened by my conviction that Jordan’s educational renaissance lies in developing the skills and capabilities of its teachers.
To my surprise, voices suddenly emerged questioning the intentions behind this national effort as if to impose a ceiling on our ambitions and expectations for our children. On what grounds? Was it because the academy was established on the University of Jordan campus, adding to its list of accomplishments? Or because it is a not-for-profit company? Or on the pretext that it infringes on the rights of job seekers or “privatizes” education? Or was it because they want to cast doubt on and belittle achievements?
I have never denied that the pre-service diploma has received government funding; no not-for-profit institution can undertake a project of this scale without government support and national consensus. Yet, they attacked the academy for being registered as a company, overlooking its not-for-profit status. They claimed it appropriated public lands, ignoring the fact that the University of Jordan maintains ownership of the land upon which the academy is built. They alleged that it interferes in policies, ignoring that the academy issued a clarification regarding its request more than five months ago not to be included in teachers’ career development legislation.
It’s puzzling that, since the Arab Spring, anyone who has an “issue” with the state or any of its institutions, or who has a personal grievance, or anyone seeking attention and fame, has taken to attacking the queen, the queen’s initiatives, the queen’s dresses, and the queen’s family! It has come to the point where attacking me has almost become a way for some to flex their muscles or play hero at the expense of our country.
Without offering a single shred of evidence, some have portrayed me as a powerful businesswoman in possession of hundreds of millions, or as a figure with considerable political sway on affairs of the state. It is as though a wife’s proximity to her husband is something to be held against her, and then be used to undermine His Majesty, or settle old scores.
Over the years, I have read abusive and hurtful comments on social media platforms that no Jordanian would accept about their own family, as well as words falsely attributed to me that defy logic and reason. I am not referring to those who disagree with me or have a different point of view – I accept and respect their right to do so, but that does not justify the campaign against me.
And when the slander escalates, I find myself living in dual realities: the virtual world, where I read cynicism and harshness, and the real world, where I find only affection and sincerity in every city, village, and house I visit.
I write these words to you as I approach the age of 50, never having imagined that my service or my initiatives could be taken as a pretext to criticize a Hashemite leader, who has only ever been known for his sacrifice and unshakable commitment to serving Jordan and its people. I am confident in Jordan’s potential and the capabilities of its people, under the leadership of my King, who inspires me every day. That has always been my driving force, and nothing else.
In closing, I can only say: May God keep Jordan safe from all harm, and safeguard its kind people and our King, “Abu Hussein.”
With love and devotion,
Rania Al Abdullah