Rights to Health and Education: Jordan marginalized children are kept out
Entry type: Single project
Publishing organisation: Arab Reproters for Investigative journalism (ARIJ)
It was also published in Arabic on local news media outlet: Al Ghad newspaper, Al Rai newspaper, Amman net.
Organisation size: Small
Publication date: 2022-09-05
Authors: Huda AlHanaifeh, Muna Abu Hammour, Tala Ayoub, Siba Al Mansour
Abd AlMoumen Slikh, Konstantinos Antonopoulos.
The team consists of four female Journalists and a male colleague, a Syrian refugee who recently graduated with a bachelor’s degree in media from a Jordanian university. Two of the team members work for daily newspapers. The others are Freelance. Also, the team includes a visual journalist who is passionate about digital design.
In-depth reporting on child’s rights to education and health in Jordan, the children constitute 42% of the population there. The project consists of 5 data stories. A team of five journalists exposes injustice in access to public services for children in Jordan, discrimination against girls in marginalized communities, deprivation of free health services for the majority of the child population, and insufficient government expenditures to provide a safe environment in public schools. The stories were published between September and December 2022.
Story on Children with Cochlear Implants
A member of the board of trustees of “The Higher Council for the Rights of Persons with
Disabilities” in Jordan contacted the journalist to tell her that the Civil Health Insurance Fund, a government agency, intends to cover the cost of spare parts needed for the cochlear implants of children ( the decision not declared officially). Later, the committee of the Forum of the Parents of Children with Cochlear Implants confirmed that the Fund started a registry for the children with cochlear implantation.
Story on School Maintenance
A senior official of the “Building Management and International Projects” department, at the Ministry of Education (MOE), told the journalist, after publishing the story, that a substantial increase in the expenditures for schools’ maintenance is expected in 2023 ( the government budget is still not approved).
Story on students with visual impairment
Sara’s father, one of the sources in the story, called the journalist and thanked her after accepting his daughter in the boarding house of the school. Weeks later other students from grades 7 and above, who live in distant areas were accepted, solving a problem that existed for years.This was confirmed by the director of Programs for Students with Disabilities at the Jordan Ministry of Education.
This story won “2nd place – written media category” at the media competition launched by “The Higher Council for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in Jordan”.
Story on Secondary Education for Girls
The Journalist keeps contacting the local community in the villages .An 11th grade classroom was added to the school in one of the villages, and another one to be added to the school in the other village next year. Both schools will be upgraded by MOE into secondary schools next year ( after adding 12th grade), the schools’ administrations confrimed.
Different tools and techniques were used:
Excel Sheets: It was an essential tool in the data workflow. The journalist used it to clean and analyze data. Also, it was used to build a database of children with cochlear implants in Jordan .The journalist reached almost 200 with the help of social activists. In the case of the schools’ maintenance story, data was scraped from more than 400 pages of annual reports of government budget and then organized in excel sheets.
Flourish: Flourish was used to visualize data, using different types of interactive charts. Also, GeoJSON files were used to create a map for Jordan on Flourish. This will be available to many other journalists who might need it.
Google map: it was a tool for collecting data as well as for visualization .The journalist visited the schools to get the coordinates of schools using google map application, as there was no accurate geo data for these sites. After applying data to google map, the latter showed that girls from districts in the capital territory have to continue their secondary education in schools located in distant areas, while boys from the same districts study in a nearby school.
A structured questionnaire was used to get the required data of almost 200 parents of cochlear implants children.
Context about the project:
The team found it difficult, and sometimes impossible, to access public data because of the lack of national registries, poor data automation, and bureaucratic procedures. In more than one story, the journalist waited for months before getting the data.
Although, in Jordan there is a Law for Access to Information, it authorizes state employees to determine if the requested information is classified or not without any judicial or administrative supervision.
Also, the law authorizes denying the request of information under vague reasons.
The National Center for Human Rights in Jordan observes an expansion of information classified as confidential, along with the lack of clear and accurate standards for the process and procedures.
On the other hand, journalists in Jordan may be summoned for interrogation by national security agencies after requesting information; others were detained for reporting on certain topics.
In 2021 the Center for Defending Freedom of Journalists in Jordan rated the media environment in the country as “restricted” for the second year running.
While working on the story about deprivation of public health insurance for children above 6, the council of Ministers (the Cabinet) passed the bill for the child’s right. Later it was approved by the parliament. Many sections of the law spark controversy among Jordanian and create media debate.The article related to child’s health didn’t get enough attention, although it states that it may take the government 10 years before fully implementing the public health insurance for children.
What can other journalists learn from this project?
Journalists can learn not to be deceived by the results of macro-level analysis. Using micro level scale could expose more and tell stories that might otherwise be overlooked. In the story on secondary education for girls, the journalist found nothing wrong after analyzing the data of students and classrooms at the main-district level (cities). Later, she tried to get data on the sub-districts, which wasn’t provided by the Ministry of Education. The journalist chose a sub-district where some stories were circulating about girls dropping out of schools because of the lack of convenient education services. She contacted a number of school administrations and got the data. To her surprise, the journalist found that girls in some areas have no equal opportunities to receive secondary education as boys. These areas are in the capital territory.
A lack of public data doesn’t mean the journalist has to drop the case or quit reporting data stories on important topics. In the story on children with cochlear implants. After working for months, the journalist was able to reach almost 200 children with cochlear implants.
The state budget shows information and stories that can be revealed if analysis is performed appropriately. Recurrent Schools accidents in Jordan due to poor maintenance encourage the journalists to use the budget reports of the Ministry of Education over ten years. To uncover defects in the spending policy of school maintenance and to find out if there is a decrease in these expenditures over ten years