Lale School teacher and deputy flee Maldives

The Deputy Principal of Lale Youth International School Suleiman Atayev has fled the country, along with the computer studies teacher Yunus Yildiz.

Both staff members left seperately on flights on Sunday and Monday evening, and did not inform the school they were leaving.

Managing Director of Biz Atoll Abdulla Jameel, the Maldivian company responsible for the school which operates it under agreement with a group of Turkish businessmen after acquiring it from the former government, confirmed the unannounced departure of the two staff members.

“It is true. We have no idea why they left. We recently brought some changes to management and demoted the deputy principal [Atayev] to a teacher. I have no idea why the computer teacher left,” he said.

Minivan News understands that the pair were also implicated as suspects in the assault case facing Akar, after school staff testified against him.

Police Sub-Inspector Ahmed Shiyam said while Akar’s case was before court, there was “no specific evidence” to hold the two other staff members in the Maldives.

Akar’s passport was confiscated by police at immigration when he attempted to flee the country in May, shortly after Minivan News published an investigative report containing allegations by parents and staff members against him. He attempted to flee a second time and was detained in police custody.

An assistant principal also fled the country in January after Minivan first published allegations of child abuse raised by parents.

Atayev, who announced himself acting principal following Serkan’s detention by police, previously told Minivan News he was confident charges against the former principal would be proven false.

He was also very critical of the Human Rights Commission of the Maldives (HRCM) investigation into the school: “They are refusing to tell us the nature of the complaints they are investigating. They are supposed be about human rights but they are not respecting ours,” he told Minivan News in May.

Shiyam said today that police were aware that the HRCM report “contains a lot of information against the school.”

“It has been a difficult investigation for us because of [a lack] of people coming forward to give evidence. We are still investigating,” he said.

Among nearly 50 recommendations, HRCM’s report recommended “that police should investigate the physical and psychological abuse going on at the school as an urgent concern,” and “separate those suspected of physical abuse from the school’s students until the police investigation is concluded.”

HRCM also recommended that the Education Ministry terminate its contract with Biz Atoll, “and hand over management as soon as possible to a qualified party.”

Deputy Education Minister Shifa Mohamed said the Education Ministry was under the impression that Suleiman Atayev was still the school’s acting principal, however Deputy Education Minister Dr Abdulla Nazeer said the Ministry was not required to be aware of the “hiring or firing of staff by school management.”

“I understand two deputy principals have been terminated – one local, the other expat,” he said.

Jameel confirmed that Turkish national Mohamed Akis Erdogan has taken over as principal of Lale, while Maldivian Moosa Rasheed has been appointed as deputy principal.

“The school is much better now,” he promised.

Dr Nazeer said he had met Erdogan on several occasions and had found him to be “educated and academic”.

“He has an undergraduate degree, a masters and a teaching diploma,” Dr Nazeer said, “the type of qualifications we require for the position of a principal.”

He said he was unable to comment on the validity of Erdogan’s qualifications, and had requested Biz Atoll validate them with the Maldives Accreditation Board (MAB).

He would not comment on whether the departure of so many senior staff members this year raised questions about Biz Atoll’s hiring practices, but noted that “when the school was given to Biz Atoll, I am not sure the previous government made the financial and other checks that needed to be done before handing over a school. Now, based on our criteria for public-private partnerships, I wouldn’t say these requirements had been checked.”

The Ministry was constrained by the “relatively simple contract, which had no minimum standards or a termination clause,” he said. “The Ministry has now amended the contract [to include these].”

The contract, together with the HRCM report, have been forward to the Attorney General’s office by the Education Ministry, which expects to receive an answer by next week as to whether the government can withdraw the school from Biz Atoll.

Minivan News investigated the school in May, after parents and staff members aired concerns that the school was a ‘cardboard’ front for an international tax and visa racket operating out of Turkey, whereby Turkish businesses would allegedly make tax-free charitable donations through the company funding the schools in tax-friendly countries, and reclaim the funds through disproportionately high wages paid to local staff ‘in’ on the scheme.

One staff member reported sighting “bundles” of Rf 500 notes being given to Turkish staff, while a parent claimed to have spoken to one of the Turkish businessmen involved with the school, who had boasted that his business donated money to the school because under Turkish taxation law he did not have to pay taxes on it.

Another teacher told Minivan News that “Turkish teachers escort Turkish businessmen around the school on a weekly basis, and regularly make trips to Turkey. We certainly couldn’t afford to go to Turkey on our salaries, and this is a school that can’t even afford clocks or light bulbs.”

“A lot of money is going somewhere,” another suggested.

The school, which was provided to Biz Atoll free by the government, reportedly receives 50 percent of its funding from a group of Turkish businessmen who pour charity funds into schools in several developing countries, including Sri Lanka, Burma, Indonesia and Cambodia. Minivan News understands the new principal has arrived from a school belonging to the group in India.

Overshadowing repeated controversies over the school’s management is the issue of capacity. The school, which Minivan News understands was built to accommodate almost 1000 grade school students, currently has an enrolment of 98, not including the preschool.

“That is a major concern for us and we have raised it three or four times,” Dr Nazeer said. The government intends to build many homes and flats in Hulhumale and if every flat has 2-3 kids, we anticipate that the population of children [on the island] will double or even triple. So we need to better utilise the schools [on Hulhumale].”


20 thoughts on “Lale School teacher and deputy flee Maldives”

  1. Is "an undergraduate degree, a masters and a teaching diploma" the type of qualification necessary for a Principal's post? Isn't it necessary for a Principal to at least have a diploma in school management? Or is it accepted by the Ministry of Education that a teaching diploma is the same qualification needed to run a school? No wonder the schools here are going haywire......

  2. It is very easy these days to print some certificates....May be I should start printing certificates for white-skinned people.... that could be a good career at this time when the economy is so low.
    Hey people....if you need to make any certificates for degree and masters level.....I am here.....our education ministry will accept as long as there is a paper saying that you have a certificate.

  3. Well Done Yunus and Well Done Suleiman! It is really good that you have left the small people of spec-like country...otherwise they'd have tortured you as they are torturing Mr. Serkan Akar. No need to sacrifice your efforts to educate barbaric children of barbaric people who don't no value of anything because the country is financed by charities of other countries...Pity for those who still try to help Maldivians!!!

  4. First of all it is really not good to frighten foreign investment which is helpful to develop our country. Secondly, why only one school's, that is LYIS, principal is questioned of not having a management certificate? Why don't we consider the principals who have only O'Level results. A principal with O'Level!!! Such a person is not eligible to study at a university even!!! And finally the Maldivian authorities, even the people at education ministry, don't know how to run a school. That's why so many indians, sri lankans are here. And local principals are consulting them when needed because they don't what is education!!!

  5. Latheefa was a good assistant principle. She was the only one who tried to run the place as a school. For the rest it was a money making venture and maldivians were just barbaric. It is a great loss to the school that she was fired


  7. Police will not find evidence? Then what is going on at the Criminal Court regarding the former Principal Serkan Akar? There were people who kept saying that proof cannot be found regarding Serkan's case; that it was only allegations. Allegations, my foot! I told them at first also that it was highly impossible that Serkan will be freed. There is a limit to everything. And when there is so much abuse it will come out, however much the children are threatened.

  8. "prestigious school" ???? How? Coz of abuse? Discrimination? Law-breaking? Dictatorship? Oh God! When can we open up our eyes and face the truth? Please try to remember that everything which shines is not gold and do not try to judge a book by its cover.

  9. The fact that HRCM did not find anything positive from LYIS raises serious doubt about impartiality of their work. It appears that they were not interested in listing to positive side. They have mostly spoken to people who harbours negative thoughts. It appears that before HRCM launched the investigation, it was pre-planned and discussed between Education and Atterney General's office and HRCM.

  10. Dr. Nazeer is a State Duty Bearer and he, in his position, is obligated to follow any and all allegations and make sure that all schools are up to standards required and that no child is deprived of their right to education in a safe and healthy, inspiring environment and that no child is abused with his knowledge.
    If the best he comes up with in response to a matter serious enough to be reported by HRCM and covered quite extensively in the media (never mind how many complaints he himself may have received and not acknowledged)is: "Deputy Education Minister Dr Abdulla Nazeer said the Ministry was not required to be aware of the “hiring or firing of staff by school management.”...... Dr. Nazeer should step aside and give the job to one who has the capacity to take on such an immense responsibility as Accountability to the People.
    As for this school, the Minister Of Education should step in immediately, take charge, and close the school until the matter(s) are fully investigated and decided. In the meantime, the parents could send children to other schools so that their studies are not disrupted for a long period; if the Education Minister would (as a temporarily special measure) provide space to these unfortunate Lal School students perhaps by distributing them amongst the many schools in Male'?

  11. There you go. Run away Criminals. I thought immigrantion department made sure they cannot leave the country untill the whole issue of Lale school was over. How did they escape? And education ministry is sleeping, they dont know what the hell is going on. Shame. Whats the point in boasting international schools in the country if this is the way how they are managed !!!!

  12. Lale School pupils should call for help from Majeediyya and Dharumavantha ... just to come and bash up the wrong doers.

  13. lale school was built on corruption.
    biz atoll had done a corrupt deal with the previous government. hrcm failed to comment on that in their report.

  14. I am so glad that they are leaving! Biz Atoll is taking responsibly and cleaning up their mess. It has only been a short while but I can see that they are committed to get Lale to be a functioning and excellent school. The new principle is much more involved than the last one. The new deputy principle is a good man with 8 years experience working in the Maldives and is personally known by much of the current Maldivian staff. More importantly he is allowed to make changes and have control over the school. That is something the Lattee was not given. (forgive the spelling please) It is a shame that she was let go. She really was the only one in the former administration that cared for the kids and the school. Had she had the right to make changes none of this scandal would have happened. She will be missed but I do have hope for the school now that everything has been brought to light and the bad guys are leaving. Thank you Minivan news for reporting everything that was going on.

  15. To JJ! No:1- suleyman did not announce himself an Acting principal. He was appointed by jameel. You can ask him. No:2 - suleyman did not flee the country but avoided unjust treatment by maldivians. No:3- it is time for you to announce your source inside the school who is constantly feeding you with wrong or half info.

  16. Whole school staff and students and even parents were really happy with computer teacher. He was also a convener teacher at STC teacher meetings.After he left the country i asked to him the reason behind of that and He said there were some unavoidable developments in his life.thats why he had to leave the country asap.Otherwise there was no reason to left the country where he has been trying to dedicate himself since 2008 to this Dhivehi Raajje people. Then I mentioned to him this is a big loss for this country such a good teacher like him.May be you wonder who am I. I am one of the very close student of him.

  17. As one of the first international teachers at the school I can't say I'm surprised at what as happened. Even at the beginning the school was (what appeared to be) financially mismanaged by an incompetent leadership. Serkan and Suleyman were so involved with appearances and their innate self belief of their superiority that they were blind to the mess they were leaving in their wake. I loved living in the Maldives and regard it as one of the happiest times of my life but sadly couldn't stay because of the problems with the school management. It also greatly upsets me that some of the children were harmed at the school but I am pleased that the school is now in good hands and has a brighter future than it had when I had left it.

  18. @ibrahim yasir: those people were the best when they were doing their best to protect your son when he was being beaten up by a gang member,who was trying to attack on teachers too, and now they are criminals? go f^^^ yourself...that is all I can say to you...


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