MP for Fares-Maathodaa Ibrahim Muttalib has announced that he will file a no-confidence motion against Education Minister Dr Musthafa Luthfy over the ministry’s steering committee’s recommendation to make Islam and Dhivehi optional subjects for grades 11 and 12.
Appearing on Television Maldives’ ‘Q&A with Miqdad’ programme last night, the independent MP argued that the decision would undermine respect for religion and language among youth.
Muttalib claimed that Luthfy told him that students of Arabbiya School, which was shut down after a wall collapsed, would be transferred to other schools.
“We now believe that national education matters will not go well because of the attitude and thinking of the Education Ministry, especially Mustafa Luthfy,” he said. “So [Luthfy] should either make amends or resign.”
Muttalib, former treasurer of the religious conservative Adhaalath party, said he had drafted the motion and hoped to secure 10 signatures from MPs needed to submit a motion of no-confidence.
“Now the education minister is saying it was not his decision to change the two subjects to optional,” Muthalib said today. ”I want the minister to tell us whose idea was it then.”
Muthalib claimed that Luthfy told him last week that there was “no way” the decision could be reversed.
”If the education system implements a curriculum like this, students would be moved away from religion and mother tongue,” he said. ”I would not support such a curriculum that discourages the use of our own culture and language.”
While he could not predict how MPs would vote on the motion, Muttalib said “there are many MPs who respect religion.”
Luthfy told Minivan News today that while he had watched the TVM programme, he did not think Muttalib “was serious.”
He added that he did not want to comment on the no-confidence motion.
“It’s not true that I said in a meeting last week that there was no way the decision could be changed,” he said.”It’s not my decision. It’s only a suggestion by the ministry’s steering committee.”
Luthfy has stressed that the decision of making Dhivehi and Islam subjects elective has not been finalised.
The Adhaalath party yesterday condemned the Education Ministry’s decision, characterising it as Luthfy putting “the final nails in his political coffin.”
An angry crowd protested outside the minister’s house on Tuesday night following the Adhaalath press release.
Sheikh Hussein Rasheed Ahmed, president of Adhaalath party, said today that did not wish to comment on the no-confidence motion.
”It is not our concern,” he said. “Our problem is that Education Minister is misbehaving.”
The State Minister for Home Affairs said the party had discussed the issue with Luthfy on several occasions.
“This is a national issue.” he said. “He cannot solve a national issue on his own. He has to discuss with the cabinet, parliamentarians and senior government officials.”
Senior officials at the Education Ministry has stressed that the steering committee’s recommendation would only be implemented following cabinet deliberations.
Opposition Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) MP Abdulla Mausoom told Minivan News today that it was imperative that Maldivians “try to save their identity.”
“The school curriculum should also be designed in a way that would help save the country’s identity, which is religion and language,” Mausoom said. ”Dhivehi and Islam are both very important subjects.”
He added that the state had a responsibility to preserve and protect national identity and culture.
“The main reason why I do not like this government is that they never prefer to discuss any issue -and even if they did [want to] they rarely they do it- but they never would accept the recommendations and suggestions,” he said.
The MP for Kelaa said that the DRP parliamentary group will discuss the issue and decide its stance.
Meanwhile, ruling Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MP Alhan Fahmy said the time had not yet come to take up the issue at parliament.
”It would be a very big issue if they were removing the two subjects from the school curriculum,” Alhan said. “But if it is optional that means any student who wishes to study it can study it. Students have the opportunity. I don’t see what all the fuss is about.”
Alhan said the issue was being blown out of proportion to serve political purposes, adding that the MDP parliamentary group had not officially discussed the matter yet.
Statistics of the Education Ministry show that of the 7,137 students who sat for the GCE O’Level examinations last year, only 32 per cent passed in five subjects, while 2,284 students qualified for higher secondary education.