The first command of the Qu'ran is "Read," so most Jordanians are serious about their education. A high level of education has become a source of prestige and status, as well as a sign of religious accomplishment. Jordanians achieved a literacy rate of more than 80% in the early 1990s, up from 32% in 1961. Today most illiterate Jordanians are the older generations, especially those from rural areas.

Primary education is free and compulsory up to the age of 14. About 70% of students attend government schools. The rest attend private or religious schools. Those who wish to study further take two years of preparation for college or university. All schoolchildren wear uniforms. The government has based the school curriculum on traditional Islamic values to help each child develop as a good citizen as well as an educated person.

Jordan has three state-run universities, which are widely considered to be among the best in the Arab world: the University of Jordan in Amman, Yarmuk University in Irbid and the military Mu'tah University in Karak. However, the range of subjects taught in these universities is limited and the fees are too high for many families to afford.

Many wealthy families send their children abroad for higher education. Assistance programs have been set up to help poorer students with academic potential to attend college or university. About 70,000 Jordanians study abroad.

 Did you know?
Jordan is the only Arab country that has ended the practice of requiring young men to do compulsory military service. It abolished military service in 1991.

Almost half of all students in college or university are women. This reflects changing attitudes towards the role of women as well as the increasing prosperity of the country as a whole.