Muna Abu Hammour
Abd AlMoumen Slikh


This report shows the frequency of injuries among public school students in Jordan in the past decade, due to accidents resulting from poor maintenance of these facilities. This coincided with a decline in actual spending on maintenance of schools’ furniture and building repairs during that period. This data-driven report is based on analysis of the Ministry of Education's budget for the period 2010-2021.

Hala Muheilan was crushed under a defective gate on her first day of school, ruining the young girl’s memories of this important date. Wafaa Al-Balaasi, the mother of five-year-old Hala, recounts her daughter’s first day at school, “they killed the joy of the first day of school for my daughter and for the other students because of a gate! Why? To whom should we address our complaint?”

On her first day of school on September 1, 2021, Wafaa Al-Balaasi accompanied her daughter to the public school located in Al-Mafraq Governorate in the northern region.

Al-Balaasi, who herself is a kindergarten teacher at the same school, went to close the school gate when her daughter Hala volunteered to close it for her, only to be crushed by the gate.

Unsafe Gates

Al-Balaasi says, “The gate was supposed to be safe; I had no idea that it could be dangerous. Students open the gate frequently to enter the school.”

The mother tried to lift the gate while her little girl was crying in pain, but could only do that with the help of a young man who lives locally. He rushed to help and release her daughter. Hala was admitted to the Northern Badia Government Hospital for treatment. A medical report issued by the hospital stated that the child had multiple fractures in the pelvis and in the left elbow.

Al-Balaasi pointed out that an official in the Jordanian Ministry of Education denied that her daughter was a student at the school since the register did not show her name listed. The mother, however, confirmed her daughter’s name had been included on the “initial registration list” since the previous May, and that the accident occurred on the child’s first day of school.

40% increase of students enrolled at public schools in Jordan between 2010 and 2021

(Percentage change )

Source: The Statistical Report for the academic year 2010-2021

Hala is not the only student affected by accidents at public schools. Accidents with falling gates have been a recurrent issue at Ministry of Education schools in various Jordanian governorates.
Hisham Al-Khalayleh says that in October 2021, his son Majid was also involved in a similar accident when his school gate in the Zarqa governorate fell on him, leaving him with fractures and bruises in various parts of his body.

In 2016, a student lost his life after the iron gate of his public school crushed him, leaving him with injuries to the head that caused his death.

The Irbid Court of Appeal examined the case of the deceased student and issued a decision last June affirming the Ministry of Education’s responsibility and ordering damage compensation for his next of kin, according to the provisions of Article (1/288) of the Civil Code.

The court went on to order the Ministry of Education and the school principal to compensate the next of kin, paying around 75,000 Jordanian Dinars ($105000), because of the harm they caused.

In 2019, another student suffered fractures to his skull and vertebrae when a two-meter high school gate fell on him at a public school in Tafilah governorate.

The Court of Appeal examined the case for compensation paid to the student’s family and concluded that the Ministry of Education had failed to service the iron gate which was in such a poor state of repair that it required special attention to avoid personal injury to students and teachers.

What does the budget show?

An analysis of the budget of the Jordanian Ministry of Education reveals that its current expenditures increased between 2010 and 2021 by 75% but the share dedicated to maintenance declined by about 36%.

Current expenditures cover maintenance including furniture, school vehicles and other machinery and their supplies. Capital expenditures mainly cover the maintenance and repair carried out on school buildings.

The analysis also shows spending on maintenance of furniture and machinery in various education programs decreased by 37% during the same period.

The data analysis included all levels of school education; from kindergarten to secondary school, as well as special education, social and sports activities.

The basic level or primary school seems to have been affected the most by the reduction in allocations for maintenance of furniture and machinery, as these allocations have decreased by half since 2010.

Primary education levels constitute the bulk of the sections in public schools, followed by the secondary levels.

Basic* level education constitutes the largest part of the Jordanian educational sector

Number of sections

Source : The Annual Statistical Report for the academic years 2010 to 2021, the Jordanian Ministry of Education * Basic Education level Includes Primary and Intermediate levels

The ministry’s budget reports show that maintenance and repairs of school buildings are paid for through capital expenditures, and not through current expenditures.

Spending on the maintenance and repairs of buildings from capital expenditures increased in the last three years after a decline for four consecutive years.

Share of building maintenance* from capital expenditures rose in the last three years after a 4 years decline


Source: Analysis of Data of The General Budget Department 2010-2021 *Includes maintenance and repair for the levels: kindergarten, basic, secondary and vocational training.

Danger above students’ heads

Local Jordanian media have repeatedly reported on recurring incidents of falling ceiling fans in public school classrooms. In 2020, at the beginning of the school year, a fan fell on two students in a public school located in eastern Amman. In 2016, a similar accident caused injuries as well as panic to a number of female students in Al-Balqa governorate.

In a different incident, the whole roof of a school collapsed overnight at a public school in Al-Balqa governorate in 2014. In the following year, the ceiling of a classroom fell after school hours at a public school in Al-Mafraq Governorate.

Spending on education sector building maintenance and furniture varies

Percentage change

Percentage change

Source: Analysis of Data of The General Budget Department 2010-2021

Maintenance and safe environments

Hani Jahshan, an expert on prevention of violence against children, explains that it is not permissible for students and teachers to utilise school premises if the safety of the infrastructure is in doubt. The key function of school principals and directors of education is to ensure that safety procedures are followed. He says, “There are allocations for such matters, and this must be done before the start of the school year.” Jahshan adds, “Tracing the accidents and injuries that occurred in previous years will show that the infrastructure is bad, and that there is no periodic maintenance of these facilities, especially for the external school gates.”

Spending on furniture and furniture and machinery repair in basic education programs declined dramatically

Actual Spending (JOD)

Source: Annual Report of Jordanian General Budget Department 2010-2021

Who is at fault?

Ibrahim Samamaa, head of the Department for Building Management and International Projects at the Ministry of Education says, “The Maintenance Directorate in the Ministry of Education is responsible for maintaining schools.” This directorate is affiliated with the Department for Building Management and International Projects, which also includes the directorate of Engineering Affairs and the directorate of Property and Investment.

According to Samamaa, teams conduct full surveys of school buildings to evaluate their safety before the start of every school year. These teams also verify that the gates are safe and that they are not at risk of falling, as well as surveying the fences of schools for any cracks.

He highlighted that the Ministry also has departments for following up on maintenance in forty-two directorates distributed over various regions.


Click on the cards for more details

Maintenance* includes:

Light maintenance:

Heavy maintenance:

Structural maintenance:

* Rented school buildings are also subject to inspection, and in case of any defect, buildings are evacuated immediately.

Samamaa believes that all schools that received students in the previous and current academic years are safe for students. He confirmed that 2,800 school maintenance inspections have been carried out since 2021, at a cost of 30 million Jordanian Dinars ($42 million).

Regarding the incident of the falling school gate in Badia region, Samamaa says “We do not claim to be perfect, and there may be lapses. The Buildings Department in the directorate bears responsibility for that.” He stressed that a thorough physical inspection of schools should have been carried out before the start of the academic year, and the administration should have been contacted to carry out the necessary maintenance.

The Department of Financial Affairs at the Ministry of Education determines the Ministry’s needs for maintenance work and the cost involved, and each directorate determines its needs and requirements. Samamaa explains that the General Budget Department is also involved if maintenance allocations are not sufficient, or when there is a need for emergency maintenance.

Samamaa believes that the Ministry's approval of the unified procurement system has led to the transfer of all projects to the Department for Building Management and International Projects, overwhelming the department’s capacity. The new procurement system reduces the amount education directors can disburse to just one thousand Jordanian Dinars, instead of the previous 20,000. Samamaa demanded that the previous powers be reinstated.

In March 2022 the Jordanian government approved a new ‘code of practice’ for school facility construction. According to Samamaa, this code of practice is binding for all parties that deal with school buildings. All construction or maintenance work must meet the set requirements.

Public school buildings owned by the Ministry of Education (2020 / 2021)

Source : The Statistical Report for the academic year 2020-2021

Lack of planning

An analysis of the budget of the Ministry of Education reveals an increase in spending on building maintenance and repairs in the last three years compared to the period between 2015 and 2018. Despite this, a huge discrepancy exists in the allocations for maintenance of buildings and furniture across various education programs since 2010.

Mohammad Abu Ghazleh, former director of the Educational Planning and Research Department, acknowledges the lack of a sustainable maintenance system, which leads to problems due to several factors, the most important of which is the age or inadequacy of buildings.

Abu Ghazleh says that most of these problems emerge in winter months, and they put at risk the lives and wellbeing of students as they turn schools into unsafe environments for learning.

Abu Ghazleh points out that rented school buildings also face maintenance-related challenges. In the case of rented schools, 90% of the rent is paid to the landlord after the building is occupied, which means the landlord is secure and may not respond after he has collected the sum owed to him. Moreover, the remaining 10% may not cover the required maintenance needed.

The tenant, the state in this case, has the right to vacate the building at any time without notifying the landlord according to the annual contracts. Abu Ghazleh adds that the tenant can also make any modifications, repairs or additions to the rented property, according to an agreement concluded with the landlord to compensate him financially if the modification is not within the terms of the contract.

In the case of government-owned schools, Abu Ghazleh explains that the problem lies in the absence of any kind of maintenance planning or appropriate follow-up and monitoring especially for older state-owned buildings.

Relative to total spending , Maintenance of secondary level education buildings declined since 2018

Percentage expenditure

Source: Analysis of Data of The General Budget Department 2010-2021
*Buildings’ maintenance is included in capital expenditures

Abu Ghazleh pointed out that each directorate is allocated 300,000 Jordanian Dinars ($422000) or more annually. In his opinion, this amount did not reduce the emergence of problems that endanger the lives of students. Several factors contribute to the ongoing problem, including the lack of maintenance follow-up, administrative and bureaucratic procedures that impede the execution of maintenance in a timely and appropriate manner, the lack of financial resources and the poor administrative skills of some managers who may fear making financial errors as a result of vague financial procedures.