Teachers routinely bullied by pupils with no support from schools, say staff

Education in the Maldives is being held back by a lack of institutional support and too much student power, report teachers currently working within the system.

Anecdotal evidence from teachers working in the Male’ area suggests poor support from senior staff and insufficient pay, leading many teachers to consider leaving the profession.

Following last week’s annual Teachers Awards ceremony, President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan told local media that allowances and privileges for teachers would be reviewed in order to improve educational standards.

“The basic action to take, in order to improve the level of education, is to improve the standard of teachers. And increase the assistance provided to teachers. In order to encourage teachers, I will revise and work towards improving the allowances given to them,” Waheed told Sun Online.

In response to this, one teacher told Minivan News: “It’s about time they got reviewed. Teachers are badly paid and badly treated. Many teachers I know are leaving or looking to leave the profession.”

Former Education Minister under the previous government Shifa Mohamed explained that efforts had been made in the past to raise the standard of teachers by introducing a licensing system for better qualified teachers which would have become mandatory over time.

“We tried to establish a system with licensing for better qualified teachers,” said Shifa, arguing that teachers were motivated not just by wages, but the opportunity to develop.

Teachers – some of whom have experience working abroad – reported particular problems with a results orientated system, producing pupils without the appropriate life skills.

“Students have far too much power. If they don’t like the marks they have been given in an exam, they bully teachers into changing the marks,” one teacher said. “Teachers are marking up all students so that they appease them and the parents.

“The students are spoon-fed and don’t learn any of the life skills they’ll need, for example basic revision skills, how to read an article and summarise it, or how to take the key points from it,” the teacher told Minivan News.

The teachers also described problems caused by teachers being forced to supplement their income with additional tuition, often teaching children from within their own school – prompting a conflict of interests.

“It is known that a lot of the teachers only teach half the syllabus in class, forcing students to take on extra tuition,” commented one teacher.

“However, this is an error on both the government/schools side and the teacher’s side. The teachers aren’t getting paid enough so they have to supplement their salary with tuition,” the teacher explained.

Shilfa said the tuition issue was a long-term problem which had concerned the ministry for some time.

“It is a norm because it is a system based on marks, and we were trying to change that – there is pressure from parents [on teachers] to give good marks,” she said.

While one teacher explained that schools still offered opportunities for further training to staff via the Continuing Professional Development (CPD) scheme, at the time of press Minivan News was unable to obtain comment from the government on current policy.

Four different education officials, including senior appointments, failed to respond or referred Minivan News to other officials, who likewise failed to respond. One education official demanded Minivan News submit a request for comment in writing.

Wider impact

After last week’s award ceremony at Dharubaaruge, President Waheed said the implementation of a new curriculum as well as further training for teachers was needed to improve the education system.

Waheed also pointed to a gap in the system affecting school leavers.

“One of the biggest problems for youth today is that they have to stop studying when they reach Grade 10. They finish school at the age of 16,” said the President.

“My hope is that the education system is changed, such that every child gets to go to school until they are 18, and that they become productive and useful individuals,” he added.

This particular issue was highlighted by a recent report into gang culture in the country, produced by the Asia Foundation.

The report linked this so called ‘lost age group’ to unemployment and subsequent involvement in gang activities as a source of income.

State Minister of Education Imad Solih told the media last month that the country’s education system had failed, with detrimental repercussions for society as a whole.

He stated that, with the government’s annual investment of MVR 2.4 billion (US$156 million) on education, the outcome was unacceptable.

An Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD)  report released last December ranked the Maldives as number one in the Asia Pacific region on education spending as a percentage of GDP.

According to the report, Maldives spends the highest proportion of GDP on public education (8.1 percent) across the Asia/Pacific region, four times higher than countries such as Cambodia and Myanmar.

Despite the expenditure, Solih argued that the countrywide results of O’level and A’level examinations did not reflect the financial input to the education system, and that changes had to be brought to the sector including new plans and targets.

Solih also stated that the failure of the education system should not only remain a concern of the education sector alone, but political leaders, parliamentarians and the general public should also share the concerns.

“I urge everyone to set aside our political differences and to take a minute to think about the current education system,” he said.


7 thoughts on “Teachers routinely bullied by pupils with no support from schools, say staff”

  1. I think that the truth is revealed through this article. In many schools the limitted curriculam students and commerce stream students are very bad in terms of behaviour,descipline and studies. Where as the science stream students,being able to read a few lines properly, have a nasty amount of headweight and arrogance and are not submissive to the teachers in many schools and consequently teachers cannot impart knowledge properly, which makes them worse than the former group of pulils.

  2. very true, with the HUMAN RIGHTS BULLSHIT, no teacher has any authority over the actions of certain students, they behave like kings and queens while the teachers are treated like servants and slaves, what next with demoncrazy; the authority for children to belittle and bash up their parents????

  3. this is correct. today our society is lost and our future is in dismay .

    Human rights is there for the rights of the criminal and they never spoke and stand against any one who had not committed any crime. Human rights starts when a person commit a crime not otherwise.

    Maldivian does not know how to practice democracy and they thinks that democracy means free to do anything without any boundaries.

    Democracy comes with a responsibility and those vary responsibilities are made to forgotten by our political key leaders for their personal gain.

    These leaders are teaching our people of a different democracy . They are giving wrong information on the vary nature of " democracy" .

    These people use name of democracy to get the dirty work done by public for the benefit of their children.

    These people children never goes to school in Maldives and their children were send abroad for studies. So they don't care what is going on here in this country.

    I am still surprised why Maldivian so ignorant and why we are losing our historical and social values in our society . Why many people still thinking from other brain not use their.

  4. Why blame the authorities over the failure here.

    This is moadis. And in moadis, many things are different.

    a) Judiciary is a failure.
    b) Anti corruption authority is toothless.
    c)law enforcement authorities are political tools
    d) law making authorities are imbeciles
    e) democracy is for namesake only.
    f) authorities are scared shit to name bearded murderers
    g) silence is a given right by default

    And you say teachers have a authority problem? Dont make me laugh!

  5. The believers and followers of Anni will never accept anything other than what Anni asked to follow.

    Tell me anything that human rights have spoken other than criminal's rights?

  6. Interesting reading material. I have always 'admired' the way students can get away with just about anything under the school roof. Yeah, you talk of human rights for the students??? what about the bloody rights of the teachers. Why should they be targets for students to take pot shots at? As the saying goes in the Torah: 'spare the rod and spoil the child'

  7. The problem is that the whole approach is wrong. Schools are too much oriented to knowledge transfer and studying. Marks are overrated, students who don't get the best scored are left behind, which causes the dropout. Next to the wasted talents, the future perspective of these young men and women doesn't look good and the temptation of crime lures them to the wrong path.

    We must step down from this strictly knowledge and performance based system and go with a much wider approach: next to basic knowledge and learning strategies schools have to prepare the students for society, life after school. Help them discovering their talents, guide them in their way to develop strong positive personalities.


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