No additional reporting by missing journalist Ahmed Rilwan
The Principals Association of Maldives (PAM) has called on the government to address concerns raised by teachers, review the pay scheme, and identify education sector reforms.
In a press statement released on Sunday (October 5), PAM contended that wages were disproportionate to the extra hours put in by teachers and expressed concern with experienced teachers leaving the field at an alarming rate.
“Efforts to retain quality teachers and attract bright students to the sector should be carried out swiftly,” PAM suggested.
“Opportunities for professional development should be increased and broadened for [teachers] on the job. Teaching should be made an honourable and generous occupation worthy of people’s respect.”
Referring to the theme of this year’s International Teacher’s Day (October 5) – ‘invest in the future, invest in teachers’ – PAM called on the government to allocate large amounts in the state budget from 2015 onward to invest in teachers.
As teachers imparted knowledge, taught skills and instilled values needed by future generations, PAM stressed the importance of “thinking about the condition of teachers and taking into account their feelings and concerns”.
In addition to better pay and benefits, PAM suggested improving work environments as well as the quality of programmes and training courses conducted for professional development of teachers.
In her message on Teacher’s Day, Education Minister Dr Aishath Shiham pledged to provide more training and development opportunities for teachers and principals before the end of the year.
Dr Shiham expressed gratitude for the “hard and invaluable work” of teachers.
Noting that the most important aspect of education policy was implemented by teachers in classrooms, the minister said efforts were underway to prepare manuals or handbooks for teachers and parents as well as development plans for schools.
A detailed and longterm “subject improvement plan” would also be provided to teachers next year, she said.
Last month, the Teachers Association of Maldives (TAM) called off a planned nationwide strike to hold talks with the government.
Following a meeting with President Abdulla Yameen, TAM revealed that the president had asked for a detailed proposal to address grievances about pay and other issues.
The proposal on revising salary for teachers and improving efficiency in the education sector would be submitted this month following consultation with the education ministry, TAM said.
The response from President Yameen was “positive” and TAM received assurances that a pay rise would be considered, the association noted.
PAM also noted that the discussions with President Yameen was a positive development.
“The government’s decision to sit for talks and compile a timeline [on meeting the demands] is a sign President Yameen himself attended to the teacher’s demands,” TAM President Athif Abdul Hakeem told Minivan News on September 21 after teachers went to work dressed in black.
Around 90 percent of teachers were reported to have demonstrated by wearing black to work.
The opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) had also announced its support for the strike should discussions with the government fail.
“They have been asking for this raise from Maumoon’s administration, through Nasheed’s and Waheed’s administration and now into Yameen’s administration. It is with great sadness that we have to note that everyone has turned on a deaf ear to their pleas,” wrote MDP MP Rozaina Adam on her personal blog.
The Ministry of Education had earlier appeared unwilling to give in to teachers’ demands for higher pay and reform, while the Labor Relations Authority reportedly labelled the proposed strike as ‘not peaceful’.
A statement from the Civil Service Commission meanwhile noted that government was treating the potential strike as illegal.
Grievances raised by TAM include revised pay, protection of teachers and students, and official recognition of the association.