The Urban Impact: The Education System

 Advertisements for private English and German language tutors are found on streets across Irbid catering to both Jordanians and Syrians.

Advertisements for private English and German language tutors are found on streets across Irbid catering to both Jordanians and Syrians.

 
 

What young men in Irbid do when they’re not in school

“One of the biggest threats to social cohesion for youth is too much extra time, unproductive extra time,” said a Jordanian woman, herself a mother of two successful children. In Irbid, youth spend most of their time in one of three places. If they are in school, they will go to class during the day, then study at home or in one of Irbid’s popular “study cafes,” modeled after Western Starbucks where it is socially acceptable to sip a single Frappuccino for three hours, logged into Wi-Fi, and plugging into a laptop with headphones on.

For those who are not in school, they may spend a few hours working menial jobs, and the rest of their time in video arcades featuring violent shooter games. FIFA is also popular, with teens and young men playing together with the field projected on a wall. Why play soccer outside on a field when you can sit in an air-conditioned room and smoke while you play? Youth can melt away years in these darkened rooms.

 The ominously named “No Way Out Playstation Center” hires young men to stand on the street pressuring passersby to enter.

The ominously named “No Way Out Playstation Center” hires young men to stand on the street pressuring passersby to enter.

“My friends in the army, some in business, in the university, we’re all over the place, but we get together and play [video games],” said one young Jordanian. Sitting four to a console, class hierarchy disappears, and young people bond over Fortnite or FIFA. Rarely do Syrians and Jordanians mix here though. “Everyone plays together,” said one young Jordanian man. “Syrians too?” I asked. “No, none of my friends are Syrian,” he answered conclusively.