MA in Local Development equips student professionals with latest knowledge

March 4, 2020

I have a different perspective for the work I do, I am more knowledgeable and I definitely feel more enthusiastic.”

Ahmad Abu Hussein is a student at the new Master’s Programme carried out by the United Nations Development Programme. As a development professional, he was chosen among another 30 professionals to complete higher studies in a master’s degree dedicated to local development. He enrolled only last year, but he describes his experience as very fruitful and is looking forward to more knowledge through this intensive MA degree.

Abu Hussein’s day to day work made him connect the theoretical information he is receiving with practical on-the-ground examples he is seeing at work. His job is purely developmental as he is a follow-up and coordination officer at the Ministry of Interior’s Development Department in Zarqa governorate.

“I am connecting my professional experience with the information I receive as part of my courses. The deep knowledge and analytics are enabling me to think differently: more creatively with a better vision of how I want to work now and, in the future,” he said.

The master’s programme is part of the Decentralisation and Local Development Support Programme (DLDSP), an initiative funded by the European Union and implemented by the UNDP in collaboration with the Local Development Directorate at the Ministry of Interior to support democratic governance in Jordan. In 2017-2020, the DLDSP worked with the Government of Jordan in guiding the decentralisation and local development process and creating the appropriate institutional and organisational settings for its implementation.

The programme also promoted the citizen participation in local governance by strengthening community-based organisations and facilitating their interaction with local authorities.

The main objective of DLDSP is to build the capacities of national and local institutions, as well as support the introduction of managerial systems, procedures and capacities to activate the new functions created by the decentralisation laws. 

To achieve this objective DLDSP launched a MA programme which is designed to empower the entities responsible for the decentralisation process, specifically the Ministry of Interior and the Ministry of Local Administration, -in developing the organisational and human capacities needed to direct and coordinate the reform and the donor support.

To achieve this goal, the initiative, in cooperation with the University of Jordan, the Hague Academy, University of Florence/ ARCO, University of Groningen and the Ministry of Interior, developed Jordan Universities Programme and are conducting the first master’s and higher diploma certificate degree programmes on Local Administration and Local Development in the Kingdom.

Huda Bawa’aneh is another student enrolled in this programme. When the Decentralisation Law was enacted and applied most notably with the municipal elections and the ensuing local governance councils, Bawaaneh felt a pressing need to deepen her local development knowledge and subsequently she enrolled for the master’s degree.

“Decentralisation and local governance are game-changers for development in Jordan. It is imperative for me that I learn more about this. I now have a better understanding of laws and bylaws governing local development. I also understand more how local development has a better impact on society,” she said.

To cater for the new needs of Jordan’s on-the-ground development efforts, the programme developed a unique combination of international theoretical and conceptual insights, with a thorough knowledge of the historical, cultural and institutional context on the ground in local communities. Participants are equipped to apply the tested international insights and methods to the Jordanian context and the specific local circumstances in which they work.

Innovative research taught by national and international research professionals will also bring an international perspective into the debate about decentralization, local authorities and local development in Jordan and the MENA-region.

Students are given individual and group assignments include actual cases from the ongoing implementation of decentralisation in Jordan. Programme courses take into account the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development tailored to local development in the context of Jordan and other MENA-region countries.

UNDP Jordan Resident Representative Sara Ferrer Olivella said this programme is a continuation of UNDP’s support for local efforts and supporting professionals directly supervising or carrying out activities related to local development.

“Jordan embarked on a very ambitious plan to decentralize and we are here to support to ensure that government entities are equipped with the most updated knowledge in development including scientific principles and experiences of other countries that have successfully implemented decentralisation,” she said.

Bawaaneh and Abu Hussein and 30 other student professionals working on development in Jordan are also taking courses developed in partnerships with international universities to ensure a continued flow of information and exchange of ideas on the latest developments in the field and research. This will help to ensure the content of the academic degrees stays in line with the latest international thinking. 

For that purpose, the curriculum was developed in partnership between the Jordan University, the University of Florence/ ARCO in Italy, the Hague Academy for Local Governance, and the University of Groningen in the Netherlands.

Also aiding the student professionals in this programme is the knowledge they attain by working collaboratively. The students were selected to represent government entities working in the field including the Ministry of Interior, the Ministry of Local Administration, the Ministry of political and parliamentary Affairs, the Ministry of political and Parliamentary Affairs and Ministry of Planning and International Cooperation. For Abu Hussein, engaging with student professionals from all these institutions is also offering him knowledge and a deeper understanding of the work of development organizations.

“We are out of the box now,” jokes Abu Hussein. “My horizon is widened and hopefully my journey will not stop here and I will obtain my PhD.”