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Scholar Calls for Systematic Awareness Programmes to Preserve Heritage

 AMMAN — International agreements to protect and promote intangible cultural heritage (ICH) have only recently become an incentive for Jordan, according to a Jordanian expert.

 In the past there was still inadequate awareness on the safeguarding of ICH among parts of the leadership at central and local levels, as well as among stakeholders themselves, said Professor Hani Hayajneh, the dean of Yarmouk University.

 Jordan took scattered steps towards the awareness process concerning the importance of ICH, Hayajneh told The Jordan Times in a recent interview, adding that some previous projects only focused on documentation, which is just “the first step in the process of safeguarding ICH”.

 Due to the limited ability in identifying various elements of cultural heritage, financial restriction and lack of human resources, some weak attempts towards safeguarding ICH elements were carried out separately, with a lack of interdisciplinary coordination, the dean said.

 “There was very little involvement of the Jordanian community, which led to a big limitation of effects and sustainability of some of these projects,” he said.

 However, the mission of safeguarding ICH in Jordan has gradually received more interest from the government, policymakers and community sectors of the Jordanian society, especially after Jordan ratified the 2003 UNESCO Convention for safeguarding ICH, Hayajneh noted.

 Hayajneh stressed that systematic awareness programmes are needed to preserve the Jordanian heritage and “respected ministries in the country, i.e. the Ministries of Education, Culture, Tourism and Antiquities, and Higher Education, should take this responsibility”.

 Formal and non-formal education play an important role in raising awareness about ICH, the scholar added.

 “Collaborative processes in the country can engage all parties working in the field of ICH in conceptualising, producing and implementing educational projects to safeguard ICH and promote sustainable development,” Hayajneh said.

 As for tourism, community centres can participate in raising awareness about the importance of participation in the planning and implementation of tourist development, as this will serve to mitigate the negative social aspects which tourism might bring and ensure that the benefits of tourism development reach the residents, Hayajneh concluded.