Chemical Education in Asia-Pacific


Fawwaz Khalili

Chemistory Department University of Jordan,Amman-Jordan

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Before 1946, education was limited to few number of students who could afford going to private missionary schools, or those who went to Palestine during the British occupation to enroll in the schools there. Some others were taught inside mosques where Arabic, religion and some basic math were the main topics.

After independence, education started in the major big cities such as Amman and Salt,so students from other parts of Jordan had to go to these schools. Slowly with time, schools started to spread all over the country. At the present time there is about a million students in public schools, and a small fraction in private schools.

In 1964,the first university in Jordan (University of Jordan) started, but the teaching of chemistry started in 1965, and the first students with a chemistry graduated in 1969, Since then five public universities were established. All of them offer a Bachelor degree in science and a Master degree only. The total number of students enrolled in the chemistry department in the year 93/92 at the university of Jordan is 164 girls and 49 boys as undergraduates, with 18 girls and 30 boys as graduate students in the M.S.program.Every year there is about 100 -150 graduates in pure and applied chemistry from all the universities. As an example the total number of students graduated with a B.S. from the university of Jordan in 92/93 is 60 girls and 20 boys, and 5 girls and 4 boys with an M.S. degree. The total number of graduates from the two programs since the chemistry department at the university was founded is 1105 (B.S.) and 132 (M.S.).

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In Jordan, some chemistry is included in general science offered to students starting from the seventh grade. The tenth grade ends the preparatory (junior high school).The text book for the tenth grade (Fig. 1) as an example includes the following topics:


1-Behavior of elements and compounds
2-Chemical bonds and molecules forming
4-Energy in chemical reactions
a-oil b-alkanes c-alkenes d- polymers

This will be covered in one semester, about four months.

The high school chemistry textbook includes the following topics ( Fig. 2 ) :


1- The atom and the periodic table, the atomic structure, light and its nature, Bohr theory, wave mechanics, shape of orbitals, the hydrogen atom and the periodic table, and the electronic configuration for the elements.

2-Chemical bonding, the bond, hybridization, electron affinity, the ionic nature, molecular structure and bonding, metallic bond, electrostatic force in solid ionic compounds and bonds within the molecules.

The primary school (sixth grade) textbook include the following topics ( Fig. 3 ):


1- Environmental systems, its elements and components, the role of the livings, the natural cycles.

2-Matter and structure of matter, its properties, the elements

3-Chemical and physical changes

4-Chemical compounds, oxides,acids,bases, and salts

5- Chemicals in the environment, ceramics,granite,table salt and oil.

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All students in Jordan set for a General secondary level exam at the end of their high school year ( after 12 school years).This exam covers several subjects, such as Arabic, English, Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry, Biology and Religion. According to their averages in this exam,they will be admitted to the various universities and colleges. The highest averages go to medicine, dentistry, pharmacy, engineering, sciesnce and agriculture. Some of the students going to science at the University of Jordan, go to chemistry, because there is a huge demand for computer science, which has the priority over chemistry. In spite of that about eighty students goes to chemistry. Among these students, the percentage of girls is about eighty percent. Two universities in Jordan (Yarmouk University and Science and Technology University) accepts students directly to chemistry.

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Experimental chemistry, most of the teaching is purely theoretical, especially in public schools outside Amman, which lack the facilities and setup to do any experimental part.. In Amman and the other big cities, some public schools have the facilities, but the students don't do any experiments themselves, since the teacher demonstrates some experiments and uses most of the laboratory period to finish the theoretical text.In private schools in Amman and Irbid, the schools encourage the experimental part and allow students to carry out an experiment or participate in a demonstration.

The high school experimental chemistry textbook includes the following topics ( Fig.4 ) :


1-Cathode ray
2-Making models
3-Flame test for group II A elements
4-Solubility of sulfates and carbonates of group IIA elements
5-Water hardness
7-Strength of halogens as oxidizing agents
8- Properties of period III elements
9-Oxides and hydroxides of period III elements
10-Copper sulfate hydrate
11-Reactions of iron with chemicals
12-Some organic compounds
13-Preparation of methane
14-Preparation of acetylene
15-Aldehydes and Ketones
16-Carboxylic acids
18-Detection of starch with iodine
19-Detection of sugars with Fehling solutions
20-Properties of fatty esters

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Since the establishment of the Jordanian chemical society in 1976, the society got involved in chemical education. Among the activities of the society are :

1- A yearly exhibition of experiments: Students from public and private schools, visit the exhibition of several experiments from their text, where teachers and undergraduate students help in carrying out these experiments and explaining them. For a lot of students, this is the first opportunity to see a setup for an experiment, and they loved and enjoyed this experience and wished for it to be repeated each year and to keep.

2- A magazine published every three to four months, and distributed to almost all public schools in the country through the ministry of education and to all the society members.

3- The society organized the first and the second Jordanian Chemical conferences in 1993 and 1995.

4- The society is an active member of the Arab Union of Chemists and the 8th Arab Chemical Conference in 1988 was sponsored by the society.

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We are going to take the university of Jordan as an example. The chemistry student enrolls for 30 credits hour in his first year.They include chem. 101 and 102, math 101 and 102, physics 101 and 102, computer 101 and 102 and their laboratories. English is used as the teaching language.

In the second year a chemistry major student studies the following subjects:

-Analytical chemistry (volumetric and gravimetric analysis) 4 credit hours (C H )
-Chemical instrumentation ( basic electronics ) 3 C H
- Inorganic chemistry 1 . 3C H
-Organic chemistry 1 & 2 (C H )
-Practical organic chemistry. 2 C H
-Physical chemistry 1 . 3 C H
-Differential equations & differentiation and integration 6 C H
-Fortran language. 3 C H

In their third year, they will study the following subjects:

-Instrumental analysis 3C H
-Inorganic chemistry 2 . 3 C H
-Inorganic chemistry 3 . 3 C H
-Practical inorganic chemistry . 3C H
-Organic chemistry 3 . 3C H
-Practical organic chemistry 2 . 4 C H
-Physical chemistry 2 . 3 C H
-Physical chemistry 3 . 3 C H
-Practical physical chemistry . 3 C H
-Chemical literature . 2 C H

In the fourth year, the student enrolls for 20 credit hours chosen from the following subjects:

-Advanced chemical analysis 3 C H
-Environmental analytical chemistry 3 C H
-Inorganic chemistry 4 . 3 C H
-Advanced practical inorganic chemistry 3 C H
-Radiochemistry 3 C H
-Organic chemistry 4 . 3 C H
-Preparation of organic compounds 3 C H
-Physical chemistry 4 . 3 C H
-Man and chemistry . 3 C H
-Industrial chemistry 1 . 3 C H
-Industrial chemistry 2 . 3 C H
-Industrial chemistry 3 . 3 C H
-Selected topics in analytical chemistry 3 C H
-Selected topics in inorganic chemistry 3 C H
-Selected topics in organic chemistry 3 C H
-Selected topics in physical chemistry 3 C H
-Selected topics in applied chemistry 3 C H
-Undergraduate chemical research 2 C H

So the department requirements for the degree equal to 102 credit hours beside the university requirements which are equal to 30 credit hours.

While in the Master degree the student must study and pass the following subjects:

-Modern physicochemical methods 3 C H.
-Group theory 3 C H
-Advanced organic chemistry 3 C H
-Quantum chemistry 3 C H
-Research methods in chemistry 3 C H

These will come to 15 credit hours, then the student will choose 9 credit hours from the following subjects

-X ray and molecular shapes 3 C H
-Heterocyclic chemistry 3 C H
-Physical organic chemistry 3 C H
-Statistical thermodynamics 3 C H
-Bioinorganic chemistry 3 C H
-Applied chemistry 3 C H
-Selected topics in chemistry 3 C H

A student enrolled for M.S. will conduct research for 9 C H, a master thesis will be written and submitted for defense, this may take from one to three years depending on several factors,such as

-The chemical problem itself
-Availability of the chemicals
-Availability and proper maintenance of the instruments which include maintaining

There are plans to establish a Ph.D. program in chemistry, plans for the program have been discussed, a nd we expect to accept students in the year 97/98. The plane for the program will include 16 obligatory credit hours plus 20 elective credit hours, chosen from a long list. The student will then conduct research for 40 credit hours, and write and defend a Ph.D. thesis.

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