Comment: Lack of educational opportunity cripples aspirations of young people

With my initiative to make a better day for youth and women of the Maldives, I have travelled across the nation to bring them whatever opportunities I can to open the door for youth to ease the entry into the working world.

I have developed a very large network of communities made up of parents, NGOs, leaders, women groups and youth themselves, engaged aid agencies and institutions that provided funding support, and liaised with resorts to link youth with on-the-job training and employment.

In this article I am giving my experience, my impression and my opinion of youth in the Maldives today. There is no blame or judgment and I hope that readers will be willing to share their experiences and constructive suggestions on how to provide youth a better environment in the Maldives.

Youth across the islands of Maldives are not sheltered from the realities of the adult world because young people leave school early, leaving behind the relative shelter of the school community.

Most of them do not progress to the last couple of years of school, and many leave the final year with hardly any acceptable standard of qualification.

Most early school leavers and secondary graduates (with low grades) are associated with disadvantaged circumstances.

These disadvantages can be defined as lack of choices or opportunities caused by poverty, geographic isolation, community support structures and social alienation and the result of centralised governance that has not catered to the needs of island people.

The lack of ability of teachers (whom also lack resources to support students) and skills to teach young people is a direct cause of student failure and offsets serious personality problems in young people. Whatever few opportunities there are in the islands are further obstructed by the lack of English language skills required for learning.

These disadvantages lead to low school achievement, aggressive and anti-social behavior, poor self-esteem and low expectations, unemployment, feeling powerless or isolated, withdrawal and loss of ability to communicate.

These young people are vulnerable to health problems and prey for illegal activities. Their lifestyle is that of any young person who wants to show a cool personality: smoking, late nights hanging around, cool speech, ‘don’t care’ attitude, cool clothing (if they can afford it). Underneath: extremely sensitive, wanting respect, dignity and direction.

The longer these young people hang around after leaving school without further studies and disciplined activities, the more vulnerable they become.

The gap between 15 and 18 years needs to be filled with schooling towards further or higher education. Presently the life of a young Maldivian in the islands is often aimless and lacks the stimulating environment that young people need to thrive.

The Labor Law of the Maldives does not make it any easier for the young Maldivian, although I am not advocating or criticising the Law.

Young people who leave school in the islands at the age of 15 years do not have much choice to continue their education. In principle they cannot be employed either.

While our programs provide an opportunity for young people to acquire skills for entry level jobs, potential employers are hesitant (and understandably so) to take under-age trainees as apprentices.

The conditions affect young women just as much as young men, however the outcomes are slightly different in my opinion.

While a young man is aggressively judged for his low performance, low achievement of a young woman is less of an issue. Young women joining our vocational training classes indicate their will to learn and interestingly are better achievers compared to their male colleagues, but are often stopped by parents and brothers.

Beliefs and attitude play a big role in this, and in the confusion of what is possible and what is right, the prevailing norms and insecurities take over resulting in young women’s opportunities being compromised.

Many young men join our classes because it is the only opportunity to walk through an open door. Young men and women’s motivation to get married early is evidently the results of nothing else to do in the community.

Boys are expected to have future employment and young women have limited aspirations for their future lives and work. With such limited personal aspirations and goals, marriage may appear to be an attractive option for these young women. Being a wife gives a young woman a role and often a deceptive one. Unfortunately being a husband does not change much for a young man who has not understood the responsibilities and commitments that go along with marriage.

The fact is that young people cross the threshold to adult life without having experienced youth.

Aminath Arif is the founder of SALAAM School.

All comment pieces are the sole view of the author and do not reflect the editorial policy of Minivan News. If you would like to write an opinion piece, please send proposals to [email protected]


6 thoughts on “Comment: Lack of educational opportunity cripples aspirations of young people”

  1. You raise some valid points and your work to solve those problems in commendable..

    You're right about a lot of things but your conclusion is rather unclear, if not evading from the truth. How do you define 'having experienced youth', or 'adult life'?

    I think the fact is that the whole education, employment and housing systems do not allow the youth to cross the threshold to adulthood at all.

    'Adult life' is a privilege that people with the opportunity to have a LIFE, can be responsible to hope and aspire for. But our society has been forced to live in a patronage system where most of us have to depend on a 'privileged' few,.... especially because of the housing problem.

    The housing problem does not allow most of our 'youth' to dream and be motivated to study, work and save so that we can walk through a threshold into what they can call our own home.

  2. Way to go, you hit the proverbial nail on the head.

    Now with the problem laid out for all to see, what we need is - as the King of Rock and Roll put it, "A little less conversation and a little more action."

    It is time for the government to terminate the petty opposition and ignore their whining once and for all, and proceed to do what every legitimate government must do to keep existing; serve the People.

  3. Agree with the article. And also with 'Jam' above. If you find that your programmes make them more equipped for adult life, replication of similar programmes, or team sport activities in school that include a personal development component may perhaps work to fill the current gap? I mean, until the formal education system can do so with a better curriculum, and better trained teachers.

  4. Respected writer, I agree with what you have said in your brief message, yes indeed the Maldivian youth need better guidance. As you mentioned in your message about better education and guidance on that I will say that Maldivian youths base education should be good they should get better guidance from base of their early education, I mean to take your attention towards their school days, it's not those youths mistakes , what they innocent will do if they are not getting better base guidance as here in Maldives many expatriates teachers are their who are teaching them are not capable as the government while appointing them dont screen them well as they are capable or not for curbing youths and creating interest in them towards studies and fruits of better education, I don't mean to say all teachers are not capable but some. As I am an Indian staying here have seen it from near that many teachers are here just to earn and move they just passing their time and pulling legs of their expatriates colleagues teacher who are dedicated sincerely towards betterment of youths they these types of teachers are pulling legs of good teachers making them nervous so that should not return to this country, I mean to say that for betterment of youth the government should bring best of best teachers experienced in all form then only this problem will be solved when these youths base is weak and when they comes to upper classes and if they dont understand anything they run away and avoid schools and studies there is lack of awareness in youth towards education and its importance. Its not their mistake, a teacher should be like that that he or she should make youth feel interest in their education they should know well how to teach and what to teach. Government gives them visa through agents in their country and these agents just for some money passes any one best or worse, they do not know where they are taking these youths and their future. Maldivian government should be strict on recruiting specially teacher, who are the makers of youth and their future. I have many things to say but in sweet simple words will say that please try to bring best in Maldives I promise in next 10 to 15 years you will surely see the change Inshaa- Allah.
    ( specially government brings teachers from south India they all maximum worse request government to bring teachers from central or north India u will get best results.)

  5. Can I ask,,what are the unemployment figures in the Maldives,,then can I ask are there enough job vacancies to make a differance to the unemployment figures??.What sort of job vacancies are there for either Male or Female workers and could they be filled without bringing in overseas workers??I am afraid to say this situation is worldwide with cheap labour being brought in to save on costs.There will always be work for top proffesionals ie doctors/IT experts etc,but it is the menial jobs that will reduce the unemployment,and those I suggest could only be provided with the help of your government....


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