Residents on Maalhos in Alif Alif Atoll have today closed down the island’s school and health centre and staged a sit down protest to demand the government send a doctor and solve an issue concerning “lazy” teachers.
Speaking to Minivan News today, Maalhos Island Council President Ahmed Rashid said that the islanders had been demonstrating since 6:00am this morning.
“They are angry because the school does not have a principal and the teachers are not coming out for work,” he said. “If the school is run by teachers they would not have anyone to oversee their work, so they are not coming to work.”
Rashid said that the school principal was previously transferred to another island because someone complained at the ministry that he had been watching Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP)-aligned private broadcaster Raajje TV since he came to the island.
“We have tried to solve this issue through the education ministry, but they haven’t responded to us and we have also tried calling the health ministry’s person in charge of sending doctors to the island and he is not answering to calls,” he said.
He alleged that the island health centre and school were both dysfunctional.
Rashid also said that protesters had warned that if there was no response from the government by tomorrow, they would also look to close down the island council.
According to Rashid, there are currently 74 students in the island school.
“We can only get things like panadol from the health center,” he added.
An islander who spoke to Minivan News alleged that the local teachers on the island had not been regularly attending work. The source added that in cases when teachers did turn up, they did were always angry at students and used inappropriate language when interacting with their pupils.
“The school and health centre in this island haven’t been functioning properly and today all the parents and senior islanders came out to protest,” he said. “It’s been three months without a doctor and we can only get treatment for minor injuries and common fevers.”
The islander claimed almost all the parents and islanders had joined the protest.
Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Health Geela Ali told Minivan News that she had not personally received any information today of protests on the island and could not therefore comment on the matter.
Geela added that she could not say whether the Education Ministry may have been notified of the matter.
Meanwhile, Education Minister Dr Asim Ahmed was not responding to calls at time of press.