Dismissed principal to sue education ministry

The former principal of Aminiya School has said she will sue the education ministry for unfair dismissal.

Athiya Naseer was sacked on Monday without warning after the education ministry deemed her a threat to the school. Her dismissal sparked outrage with dozens of teachers signing a petition demanding an explanation from the ministry.

Speaking to Haveeru today, Athiya said she was “shocked” by the dismissal and said: ““Honestly, I have no idea what the issue is.”

Aathiyaa said in her four years as the principal, the only “damages” she had caused were increasing the number of students who passed tenth grade exams and improving the students’ discipline and the school’s reputation.

Several teachers have alleged the move was politically motivated as Athiya is the wife of former opposition MP Ahmed Abdulla.

Parents of students attending Aminiya school have also criticised the education ministry’s decision. Some students told Haveeru they saw Athiya more as a friend than a principal.

The education ministry has declined to comment on the issue.


Aminiya principal sacked to ‘avoid further damages’ to school

Aminiya School principal Aishath Athiya Naseer has been fired on orders from the education ministry.

According to local media, the civil service commission told Athiya yesterday that the education ministry believed her continued presence will cause “further damages” to the school.

The education ministry confirmed the sacking, but declined to provide further information.

A senior teacher who wished to remain anonymous told Minivan News today that teachers and students were “shocked and deeply saddened” by Athiya’s dismissal, which most faculty members believe to be politically motivated.

Athiya was appointed principal in 2011 and is the wife of former opposition Maldivian Democratic Party MP Ahmed Abdulla.

Most teachers have signed a petition asking the ministry to explain why Athiya has been considered a threat to the school.

The senior teacher said Athiya is very professional, diplomatic, and had always followed the education ministry’s instructions.

The ministry’s actions have left teachers unsure of their job security, the teacher added: “Who knows who will get dismissed tomorrow saying they are a threat?”

Ali Sulaiman, treasurer of the school’s parent teacher association, suggested that Athiya’s sacking followed the PTA raising concerns with the ministry over students at the adjacent Centre for Higher Secondary Education (CHSE) using Aminiya’s science laboratories.

The parents were concerned about older boys from CHSE interacting with younger girls at Aminiya, Sulaiman said.

“We never denied CHSE students of use of our lab. They should also be given the chance to learn. However, our concern was how to manage all of the students as we also have a similar problems with capacity due to the falling of concrete structures in old buildings,” he explained.

The PTA requested a visit from education minister Dr Aishath Shiham to inspect the state of disrepair of the school’s building.

However, the minister did not say whether or not she would visit the school. The following day, the school received a letter from the ministry with instructions to fire Athiya, he continued.

“It is very difficult to understand the reason the ministry is giving. Our concern is to solve the problems in the school. It does not seem to us that sacking Athiya is the solution,”said Sulaiman.

Last month, at least five employees at state-owned companies were fired and several more were suspended after they attended opposition protests, which have now entered its tenth week. The opposition is campaigning for the release of former President Mohamed Nasheed and ex-defence minister Mohamed Nazim from jail.


Democracy growing, but gender equality a key issue: UNDP

The UNDP International Day of Democracy was celebrated today under the theme “Youth Inclusion and Democracy” at the Nasandhura Palace Hotel. Representatives from the government, UNDP, and the Human Rights Commission spoke on democratic progress in the Maldives.

Youth in civil society were widely recognised as a key factor for democratic growth in the Maldives.

UN Advisor on Social Cohesion and Governance, Ferdinand von Habsburg-Lothringen, delivered the opening speech.

“Civil society in the Maldives is impressive. It is an important avenue for young people to engage with their community and to hold leaders accountable,” he said.

Habsburg-Lothringen noted that “democracy is still a new concept in the Maldives, and will take many years to mature,” and encouraged the Maldivian government to enact “crucial” laws, such as the penal code.

Gender equality remains one of the biggest issues in the Maldives, said Habsburg-Lothringen. He noted that only 5 of the 77 MPs are female.

“Gender equality is an area in which the Maldives is lagging behind most countries in achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs),” he said. “Democracy is dependent on not just 50 percent of the people. With only half of the eligible work force participating, growth will not flourish in the Maldives.”

Home Minister Hassan Afeef called this year’s theme “relevant to the country – a majority of our population are young people.”

The ceremony featured a presentation of the report, “Comprehensive Study on Maldivian Civil Society” by FJS Consulting.

Managing Director Fareeha Shareef summarised the report’s findings on CSOs in the Maldives. Among the issues addressed was the disorganised categorisation of CSOs.

“The government is trying to provide aid but the structure of how to do it is not specified,” said Shareef. “Some sports clubs and organisations didn’t even engage in sports activities,” she said.

Shareef also commented on the CSO sector’s unique work force. According to the report, only 0.7 percent of employees are paid, and the average employee is age 25 with an education ranging between grades 6 and 10. There are 1100 CSOs registered in the Maldives.

Funding is also a struggle. The report found that donors were the least common source of funding, and many CSOs organise events to generate income. One example was a CSO that went fishing to generate program funding. The report notes that these events only cover about 30 percent of the total program cost.

The report recognises that the Maldives has the resources to support a strong civil society, but recommends bringing in older employees to provide guidance. “Imagine the potential of the sector if the resources were channeled in an effective manner,” said Shareef.

Chief Guest speaker Mariyam Azra Ahmed, Chair of the Human Rights Commission, said “a vibrant civil sector and independent media, among others” were essential for growth. She also advised a stronger dialogue between citizens and the government. “Lifestyles incorporating compromise, cooperation, and consensus building should be a consistent, recurring feature in  a democratic society,” she said.

The event included a performance by musician Yes-e and singer Grey, for whom the performance was her debut. “I was a bit nervous, and the audience wasn’t very lively, but it was a good event,” she said.

Following a tea break, a vigorous student debate was widely attended by members of civil society, UNDP, and the government. Gesticulating throughout the debate, the students of Aminiya and Dharumavatha schools demonstrated passion and ambition for democracy in the Maldives.


Vice President launches teaching aid donation programme

Vice President Dr Mohamed Waheed attended the pre-inaugural ceremony of the 2010 Science Exhibition at Aminiya School.

Dr Waheed launched a teaching aid donation programme at the school which has been initiated by Maldives National Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Holiday Inn Malé.

Dr Waheed said he was encouraged that the private sector took initiative to support education in the Maldives and hoped the science fair would encourage students to learn more about science.

He added that teachers should encourage inquiry-based learning in all subjects.

The 2010 Science Exhibition will be held later this year in June.