Teacher’s Association welcomes salary hikes

The Teacher’s Association of Maldives (TAM) has welcomed rises to teacher salaries, but noted that the organisation needs to analyse the changes in order to see if teachers’ demands were “satisfactorily met”.

Speaking to Minivan News, TAM’s Secretary General Ali Nazim said the government had not yet released details of the new pay structure despite schools opening up for the new academic year today.

“We welcome the increases in salaries. We have some concerns, we will release a full statement after analysing the changes brought, if they satisfactorily meet our demands”, Nazim said.

The education ministry on Friday announced teachers’ salaries would be increased by 35 and 15 percent depending on the qualification they held.

Those with a Bachelors degree were awarded a MVR3,600 hike – increasing take home pay from MVR11,238 to to MVR14,894, and teachers with a Diploma Certificate were awarded a MVR2,600 hike – increasing take home salary from MVR8,671 to MVR11,337.

Teachers who hold other qualifications were awarded increases between 25 and 15 percent.

Vice president Dr Mohamed Jameel Ahmed today said that the increment to teachers’ salaries would improve the quality of education throughout the country.

Ad hoc policy

Speaking to Minivan News regarding the implementation of the new curriculum for grades one through three, former education minister Shifa Mohamed stated that the introduction of the curriculum came without adequate preparation. Parents and teachers have not been properly briefed on the changes to the teaching style, approach and the aims of the curriculum, she said.

“According to a baseline study, communication and comprehension skills of students are decreasing. Teachers and parents must know that those skills are the skills that are to be targeted and improved through the new curriculum,” said Shifa.

She also expressed concern over the government’s “indecisiveness and lack of consistency” with regards to changes brought to the school management structure, claiming the government had decided to remove the post of deputy principals and leading teachers who play a decisive role in implementing the new curriculum. The ministry had made the decision due to pressure, she said.

“Deputy principals and leading teachers did not have the guarantee that they would have a job by the start of the academic year. That will surely affect their performance.”

Shifa, who currently serves as the Malé City deputy mayor, also said that 14 political appointees were heading all the departments in the ministry despite the civil service regulations requiring otherwise.

“Despite the many political appointees, what we are seeing is the lack of planning and organisation. Quran, Islam, and Dhivehi textbooks for grade 1, 2 and 3 have still not been printed,” Shifa said.

The education ministry’s Permanent Secretary Dr Abdul Mushin said although the ministry had not printed all the books, they are compiled and ready for printing.

Muhsin claimed it was customary to print the final copies after hearing responses from students, teachers, and parents. He also assured that all lessons would be printed individually and made available to students as they are printed.

Opposition leader and former President Mohamed Nasheed, in his message on the start of the new academic year, stated that the key to building a civilized and developed society is education, and stressed the importance of a single session school system.

Meanwhile local media have reported that parents of Feevah Island school in Shaviyani Atoll have closed the school in protest as only six out of 13 teachers turned up for work today. Haveeru reported that the school had not received text books.

Similary, Gulhi Island school, in Kaafu Atoll, local teachers did not turn up for work today in protest against the principal.

Furthermore, students enrolled at the new Hulhumalé pre-school were forced to go to school in plain clothes to the old temporary building as the education ministry had failed to find a party to run the new school on a contract basis.

Related to this story

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Four students and principal drown on school excursion

Almost two-thirds of Male’ attended the funeral on Friday for the principal of Hiriya School and four female students, who drowned off Huraa in Kaafu Atoll during a school fisheries science trip.

The bodies of grade nine students Nash-ath Saeed, Mariyam Naza, Aishath Saniha, Mariyam Shaiha and Hiriya Principal Ali Nazim were brought to Male’ in the afternoon.

The group of students left Hiriya School at 5:45am on Friday morning for a fisheries science field trip. A component of the trip involved snorkelling in an area used regularly by the Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) for training exercises.

Students entered the sea around 9:30am, accompanied by the school principal.

Haveeru reported sources as saying that Nazim died trying to single-handedly rescue the students, who were allegedly unable to swim when they were caught in eight feet of water in a lagoon north-east of Huraa. The area is known for having very strong currents.

Sun Online reported that Nazim attempted to rescue eight students who found themselves in trouble, and was able to save four before he died.

Sources at the funeral told Minivan News that the panicked students grabbed the principal when he reached them and he was unable to rescue the remaining children.

Relatives who attended the funeral said that the students were not asked whether they knew how to swim, and blamed the school management. No life jackets were taken on the trip, one source claimed, although this was unverified.

Haveeru reported that eight teachers accompanied the school trip of 32 to Huraa, and staff had the necessary first aid requirements.

The bodies were brought to Male’ in a speedboat around 10:40 from nearby Four Seasons resort. Meanwhile, the rest of the students returned yesterday afternoon and parents were summoned to attend the school.

The bodies were first brought to Aasahara cemetery in Galolhu, but due to the large number of mourners attending the funeral, their bodies were moved to the Islamic Centre.

The bodies were scheduled to be laid to rest after Isha prayer at 7:30pm, but of the large numbers the faces of the deceased were only covered at 10:30pm.

Hiriya school principal Ali Nazim

News of the tragedy quickly spread around Male’ and had a profound impact on the city, with reports of many parents ringing their children and begging them not to go in the water.

President Mohamed Nasheed telephoned the families of the deceased, and later announced that the national flag would be flown at half mast for three days.

Education Minister Shifa Mohamed is returning early from her trip to Australia and is expected to arrive in Male’ tomorrow.

Police Commissioner Ahmed Faseeh said a joint investigation into the incident had been launched by the police and Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF).