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.


Teachers’ Day tradition provokes financial dispute

Wednesday, October 4 will be celebrated as Teachers’ Day, however reports state that parents are objecting to some schools’ request for a Rf100 (US$6.50) donation towards the festivities.

Deputy Minister of Education Ibrahim Rasheed said that he had not received any complaints regarding the celebrations. Rasheed said Teachers’ Day celebrations were voluntary, and that it was up to the parents to contribute.

He expressly noted that donations were not required by the ministry.

“It’s up to the parents. If the parents organise an activity it’s up to them to decide how they will do it,” said Rasheed.

According to local media, all schools have asked for donations, but the request became an issue when some schools set a fixed amount. One parent allegedly said her child was asked to bring “good” gifts, and that she felt forced to donate to the celebrations because the school was keeping a record of contributors.

Rasheed said it was tradition for students to bring teachers cards and flowers in appreciation, and supposed that the request for donations had been organised by the school board or parent teacher associations (PTAs). He confirmed that no part of the school budget is set aside for Teachers’ Day.

PTAs play a significant role in school decisions. For many parents, education is important; one source indicated that parents have requested improvements beyond the state budget’s scope, and that they may be asked to supply the necessary financing to realise their demands.

The Principal of Ameeniya School, Athiya Naseer, had not heard of complaints at other schools but said state budgets are insufficient. “We can hold extra curricular activities, but depending on the type of activity we may have to fundraise,” she said. “Everyone shares in the fundraising though, parents and students and teachers.”

Teachers are important figures in the community “who are doing their jobs very well,” said Rasheed. However, some consider salaries proportionately low.

“The salaries are very low compared to the cost of living,” said Naseer. “Many teachers tutor on the side.” Naseer could not say if teachers felt pressed to tutor to make ends meet.

Rasheed did not wish to comment on matter.

“The whole world is undergoing a serious economic downturn at the moment,” said Deputy Director General of the Center for Continuing Education (CCE), Adam Sharaaf Umar. “It will certainly affect the education system and other sectors as well. But teachers are optimistic, and always working hard at their jobs.”

Tomorrow’s festivities will start in the morning with students and parents welcoming teachers to schools. The Teaching Excellence Award 2011 will be announced tomorrow evening at Dharubaaruge, an event which President Mohamed Nasheed is expected to attend.

On October 8, CCE will host a teacher conference “to share and contribute practices and exchange views on how to apply new ideas in the classroom,” said Umar.