The Maldivian Democratic Party’s (MDP) education committee has expressed concern over rising government interference with educational institutions.
The committee has condemned the recent decision by the government to vacate the old Jamaaluhdheen Building, currently the location for Maldives National University’s (MNU) faculty of arts and other departments, catering for over 1,300 students.
“The students are all scared. They have been hearing that police are going to come and vacate the building. Even the student union has demanded answers as to where these facilities will be transferred,” said the MDP Education Committee chair Dr Musthafa Luthfee.
Media have reported that the President’s Office has requested the police vacate the old Jamaaludheen premises within seven days, prompting concerned responses from the university and the student union.
The President’s Office was not responding to calls at the time of publication.
“These students are unsure as to whether they could return to their classrooms they have been studying in,” said Dr Luthfee, who served as the minister of education during MDP’s administration.
An MNU statement released yesterday read that the sudden decision to vacate the premises is not viable without a building to move to, and that the university is saddened by the fact that the decision will halt the education of many students.
While the Maldives Police Services refused to comment, the President’s Office told media that the university was offered several other plots of land to move the faculties and that the government wants to vacate the premises due to safety concerns.
The MDP education committee also raised the issue of the private higher educational institute, Mandhu College, which was handed a 15 day eviction notice by the Ministry of Education earlier this month after the it claimed the college had breached the terms of its lease.
Mandhu revealed yesterday (February 10) that large number of students who have started courses at the college have started dropping out.
Also speaking at the press conference today, committee member Shifa Mohamed criticised the education ministry for intimidating teachers and putting them in humiliating circumstances.
“On one side the teachers are being told to go study and improve their quality, while on the other side they are being intimidated,” said Shifa.
The committee had previously alleged that the structure of the recently announced salary increments for teachers was poorly planned and researched, and that it would leave a lot of teachers who do not fall into the criteria at a loss.
While the Teacher’s Association of Maldives (TAM) have also pointed out the weakness within the structure of the salary increments, its president Athif Abdul Hakim has accused the government of intimidation for speaking out against the new pay scales.
Athif told Minivan News that a letter of warning had been handed to him today by the head of Dhivehi Department at Majeedhihyaa School – where he works as a Dhivehi teacher – demanding he clarify in writing some of the comments he has made in the media.
Athif had previously said that he had been summoned to the education ministry and told by the Permanent Secretary Dr Abdul Muhsin to “pay attention to public interest” while speaking publicly about the teachers structure.
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