Recent statistics from the Education Ministry show that only six percent of Maldivian youth aged between 17 to 25 are pursuing higher education.
The statistic comes from two reports on higher education, which are currently being compiled with assistance from the World Bank and the United States. The first report is investigating the status of higher education in the Maldives, as well as plans for its improvement. The second report is examining financial assistance.
Maldives National University Chancellor Dr Mustafa Luthfy said that six percent is “a worrisome number.”
“If they are qualified enough to go into a higher institution, they should,” he said. It was not difficult to find a public college in the Maldives, Luthfy noted, although he acknowledged that private institutions were costly.
The challenging transition between grades 7 and 8 is one explanation for the dropout rate, said Luthfy. He added that if students were unable to keep up with secondary school material, then they would not be able to get into higher institutions.
“We have to be very very careful about criticizing enrollment,” Luthfy said. “If we are going to offer more degree-level courses, we need students who achieve higher A and O levels in high school.”
A recent Juvenile Justice Report suggests a correlation between academic success and relationships with a parent or guardian. Juvenile Justice records say that of the offenders reported between April 1 and June 30 this year, 95 percent dropped out in 8th or 9th grade, and few lived with parents or guardians.
When asked if this contributed to low enrollments in higher education, Luthfy replied that “schools and parents are working very hard to improve the quality of education, and improve graduation rates.
“The Maldives has a small population, we want everyone to be an educated person,” he said.
O-level results for 2010 improved on previous years, with particular gains in science subjects, however the pass rate for the 6700 who sat the international standardised high school exams was 35 percent – up from 32 percent in 2009, and 27 percent in 2008.
Most major subjects showed a positive trend in results except for arts, geography and history, Deputy Education Minister Dr Abdulla Nazeer stold Minivan News at the time, “subjects which are only taken by a few students.”