Dr Asim Ahmed appointed Acting Foreign Affairs Minister

The government has appointed Education Minister Dr Asim Ahmed as Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs following the death this week of Dr Abdul Samad Abdulla.

Dr Samad, 67, was pronounced dead yesterday (August 25) at Mount Elizabeth Hospital in Singapore, where he had been undergoing kidney dialysis.

The late foreign minister had been admitted to the hospital in critical condition on August 20 after suffering a severe heart attack. He had undergone heart bypass surgery 15 years ago.

“On behalf of the government and people of the Maldives, and on his own behalf, President Waheed extends his heartfelt condolences, at this time of national tragedy, to the family of the late Dr Abdul Samad,” read a statement from the President’s Office.

“The President recognises Dr Abdul Samad Abdulla’s sincere services to the government and the people of Maldives, especially as the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Maldives, in strengthening diplomatic relations with other countries,” the statement added.

Dr Samad has served in numerous roles for both the Maldives Health Ministry and the World Health Organisation (WHO).


Adhaalath Party requests Education Ministry cancel inter-school singing competition

The Adhaalath Party has requested the Education Ministry cancel the Maldives’ inter-school singing competition due to be held this year for the first time in six years, claiming that singing was haram in Islam.

Vice President of the party’s Scholars Council, Ilyas Abdulatheef, sent letters to Villa TV, the state broadcaster Television Maldives (TVM) and the Education Minister Dr Asim Ahmed.

In the letter to the Education Minister, the Adhaalath Party stated that music and singing were haram in Islam according to trusted Islamic scholars, and that the Adhaalath Party was concerned that some TV stations were planning an Inter-school Singing Competition to be held between school students under the watch of Education Ministry.

The party expressed concern about the competition and urged the ministry “stop such un-Islamic activities.’’

Another letter was sent to TVM Chief Executive Officer Mohamed Asif and VTV Chairman Ameen Ibrahim.

In both letters, the Adhaalath Party stated that the party was concerned about the singing competition and urged them to cancel it.

The Education Minister, VTV and TVM were also sent research on music and singing in Islam attached with the letter.

The Adhaalath Party was one of the coalition partners that in 2008 joined Mohamed Nasheed’s Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) to defeat former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom.

The current President of the Adhaalath Party, Sheikh Imran Abdulla, was very critical of the MDP and joined a coalition with former opposition parties that led to the ousting of the MDP on February 7.

That followed the breaking of its coalition agreement with the MDP on September 27 last year, after the party’s consultation council voted 32 to 2 to approve a resolution to break the coalition.

The party claimed that the Nasheed’s government had ignored “sincere advice and suggestion”, and that the party was forced to stage street protests “to put a stop to serious matters related to the country’s religion and sovereignty.”

Among the 28 main points noted in the resolution included rising inflation under Nasheed’s administration, refusal to reimburse amounts deducted from civil servants salaries, failure to alleviate the persisting dollar shortage, appointing unqualified “activists” to manage government corporations, and insufficient measures against corruption in the government.

The Adhaalath Party then claimed the former government was “making secret deals with Israel in the name of the people and pursuing relations with Israel to an extent that threatens the nation’s independence and sovereignty.”

Moreover, the Adhaalath party accused the then-government of agreeing to “let Israel influence the country’s educational curriculum.”

Among government decisions strongly contested by the party, the resolution also referred to a proposal to make Dhivehi and Islam optional subjects in higher secondary education and reclaiming a land plot awarded to the Islamic College (Kulliya).

The final eight points included the use of force against protesting parents of Arabiyya school students, senior government diplomats expressing concern with Maldivian students going to Arabic or Islamic countries for studies, publishing regulations allowing sale of alcohol to non-Muslims in inhabited islands, and insufficient cooperation with the Islamic Ministry’s efforts to close down brothels.

Adhaalath Party member Sheikh Mohamed Shaheem Ali Saeed, now the Islamic Minister, was not responding to calls at time of press.


Parliament summons Education Minister for questioning over Huraa drownings

Parliament yesterday summoned Education Minister Shifa Mohamed to question her about the Huraa drowning incident in which four students and the principal of Hiriya school died.

Police have meanwhile concluded their investigation into the incident and have sent the case to the Prosecutor General.

Shifa told Minivan News that  she was questioned about the incident itself, and about how the Education Ministry had reacted in order to avoid such incidents from reoccuring.

”I told the parliament committee that the Education Ministry conducted an investigation, which has been now concluded and sent to the Human Rights Commission of the Maldives (HRCM), police and other institutions,” she said. ”Police have concluded their investigation into the matter and sent it the Prosecutor General.”

Parents of the students had requested the Ministry not reveal the investigation report at the time because its potential political misuse would make it harder for parents to move on, she said.

She also revealed that there were four expat teachers involved in the incident who had been banned from leaving the country until the case was finalised.

”I asked the Permanent Secretary of the Education Ministry to take action against any civil servant that they found to have neglected their duties,” she said.

Police Sub-Inspector Ahmed Shiyam said the police investigation into the incident has been concluded.

”We cannot give further details of the case, the PG will decide whether or not to forward the case to the court,” he said.

Deputy Prosecutor General Hussain Shameem told Minvian News that the case with the PG’s office, which was  currently studying the investigation report to determine if it could be forwarded to the court.

He declined to give details of the investigation.


Maldives delegation forced to return ahead of UNESCO vote for Palestinian membership, says Press Secretary

The Maldives delegation to the 36th UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) General Conference was forced to return without participating in yesterday’s vote to grant full membership to Palestine, Press Secretary to the President Mohamed Zuhair has said.

Zuhair said the delegation, which included Education Minister Mariyam Shifa and Deputy Education Minister Dr Abdulla Nazeer, were unaware of a vote when they attended the bi-annual meeting of the UN cultural agency.

“They were travelling on a UNESCO ticket and they had difficulties in extending their stay, besides Education Minister had to attend a [parliamentary] committee meeting the next day,” Zuhair explained. “Due to those reasons they were forced to return but that does not mean that the Maldives worked against the Palestine resolution. It was co-sponsored by the Maldives and we did a lot of campaigning for it.”

The resolution was adopted with 107 countries voting in favour, 14 voting against and 52 abstaining. The vote signaled a significant symbolic victory for Palestine’s bid for statehood ahead of a similar vote at the UN General Assembly in New York.

Zuhair said the Ambassador to France, Dr Farhanaz Faisal, was in the Maldives at the time and Ambassador to Geneva, Ibthisham Adam, was unable to attend on short notice.

Opposition parties, including Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) and religiously conservative Adhaalath Party, has meanwhile condemned the non-participation and dismissed the reasons provided as “unacceptable.”

Former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom’s Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) Media Coordinator MP Ahmed Nihan told Minivan News that the government’s stated reasons for the non-participation was very irresponsible.

“What they are saying to defend themselves is a big joke to me and does not make much sense,” said Nihan. “The campaign they did and the co-sponsoring the resolution is a big drama the government played.”

The Vili-Maafanu MP claimed the last time he sent a notice to the Education Minister to attend a parliament committee, she appared one and half month later.

“So the cabinet ministers in this government does not give that much attention to attend committee meetings and saying that they returned without taking part in the vote does not make any sense at all,”

He alleged the absence of the Maldives delegation was the result of conversations between former Defence Minister Ameen Faisal and Israeli intelligence agency MOSSAD revealed by the Wikileaks US State Department cables

Nihan claimed the current government had “secret relations with Israel” and suggested hidden reasons behind the non-participation.

Press Secretary Zuhair however dismissed the insinuations as attempts by the opposition to “politicise the matter and mislead the public.”

“The Maldives will be one country that worked most to make the Palestine resolution get passed,” he said.


NGO coalition sets up table in front of Arabiyya to hear parent’s complaints

The same NGO coalition that once worked against the banning of alcohol in inhabited islands has now launched a campaign against the education sector of the Maldives, today setting up a table in front of Arabiyya school to collect complaints from parents.

‘’We have received several complaints from parents from different eight schools in Male,’’ said Ibrahim Mohamed, an official of the coalition’s analysing committee. “Parents are co-operating with us and raising their voices, many of them have concerning issues.’’

Ibrahim said the parents were demanding the education sector uphold the religion and article number 36[c] of the constitution.

Article 36 [c] reads ‘’Education shall strive to inculcate obedience to Islam, instil love for Islam, foster respect for human rights, and promote understanding, tolerance and friendship among all people.’’

“The education sector of the Maldives is now operated not only against the constitution of the Maldives also against the manifesto of ruling Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP),’’ Ibrahim claimed.

“The fact that President is not taking any action against this proves that he also has an agenda in this.’’

Ibrahim referred to article 67[g] of the constitution and said that making Dhivehi and Islam optional [at A-level] violated the article.

Article 67 (g) demands the preservation and protection of the state religion of Islam, culture, language and heritage of the country.

“It is against democracy to dismiss the voice of the citizens,’’ he said. “We regret that our president is dismissing our voice and refusing to meet us.’’

Yesterday the NGO coalition and some parents gathered near the President’s official residence and demanded to meet the president, before a riot police squad arrived and dispersed the crowd.

The series of gatherings triggered when the education ministry expressed an idea of making all government schools co-educational. Currently all but four are co-educational.

The NGO coalition, religious NGO Salaf, Adhaalath Party and the minority opposition People’s Alliance (PA) strongly condemned the idea.

Deputy Minister of Education Dr Abdulla Nazeer recently told Minivan News the ministry had not decided to mix female and male students in the secondary grades.

“But we have decided to establish primary grades in all the schools,’’ Nazeer said. ‘’So Majeediyya School, Dharumavantha, Ameeniyya and Hiriya will no longer be solely for secondary education.’’

Secondary education will be provided in all the primary schools as well, he added.

The Education Minister Mustafa Luthfy has come under pressure from religious NGOs and other concerned people, following the ministry steering committee’s proposal to make Dhivehi and Islam as optional subjects for A level students.


Salaf calls for resignation of Education Minister, again

Religious NGO Jamiyyathulsalaf has called for the resignation of Education Minister Dr Musthafa Luthfy, and claimed that Arabiyya is the only Maldivian school “with an adequate education policy.”

“The whole education policy of the Maldives has been designed in a way that moves the students further from the religion,” President of Salaf Sheikh Abdulla Bin Mohamed Ibrahim said today.

“As a consequence, students have become poorly educated. If you refer to the results of the students who pass, anyone will understand that.”

Sheikh Abdulla said there was only one school in the Maldives that has an adequate educational policy.

“That school would be Arabiyya School. The School teaches Arab, Hadith, Sunnah of the prophet and the Quran,” Sheikh Abdulla said.

Sheikh Abdulla said the idea of introducing co-educational policy was completely unacceptable.

“There will be social and disciplinary issues that students would have to face if the policy was introduced,” he said. “There will also be consequences for teachers.”

He also warned that “a coalition of NGOs” was preparing to be on standby to come out and demonstrate against the change, if necessary.

Minister of Education Dr Musthafa Luthfy told Minivan News that co-education has been a part of the Maldivian education system for a long time.

“When we studied at ‘Edhuruge’ [traditional places of learning, where classes were held at a teacher’s house] there were girls and boys mixed,” said Dr Musthafa. “There are currently only four schools in the Maldives that is not Co-educational.”

Dr Musthafa said his idea was to develop an integrated educational system that comprised of science, commerce, arts and aesthetics.

“That is an educational system that will contain drawing, music, exercise and sports, plus praying, reciting of the Quran and other religious events,” he said. “This type of policy is known to increase students’ intellectual ability and skills. If anyone is in doubt, they can ask parents and school managements whether students have moved further away from religion or closer to it after I assumed office,” he said.

Luthfy has previously come under criticism after the Ministry’s steering committee suggested making Islam and Dhivehi optional for A-Level students. The controversial proposal led to late-night protests outside Luthfy’s house and an eventual no-confidence motion in parliament, which was annulled when President’s Nasheed’s entire cabinet resigned in protest at parliamentary obstruction.


Education Minister fights back against no confidence motion

Education Minister Dr. Mustafa Lutfy has sent information to members of the Majlis regarding issues raised by 10 MPs who have filed a motion of no confidence against him, reports Miadhu Daily.

It is important that members of the Majlis are given the real facts about these issues, says Miadhu, and in a document on the Education ministry’s website Dr. Luthfy has responded to seven issues raised by the MPs.

Dr. Luthfy says that he has taken steps to strengthen Islam and Dhivehi at Maldivian schools, including the separation of Islam and Koran which was previously taught as one subject, offering innumerable opportunities for professional classes for Islam and Koran teachers, obtaining assistance from the ministry of Islamic Affairs to establish prayer rooms in schools and encouraging schools to make time for prayers, and for schools to take in the lead in promoting the practice of praying.


Q&A: Education Minister Dr Musthafa Luthfy

Education Minister Dr Musthafa Lufthy is facing a no-confidence motion in parliament later this month, a move led by Fares-Maathodaa MP Ibrahim Muttalib and sparked by a proposal from the Ministry’s steering committee to make Islam and Dhivehi optional subjects at A-Level. Dr Luthfy spoke to Minivan News on Sunday.

JJ Robinson: The Education Ministry has been heavily criticised for a proposal that Dhivehi and Islam be made optional subjects at A-Level in the new curriculum. Why do you think this happened?

Dr Musthafa Lufthy: The curriculum was developed in 1984, and there has been no major overall or revision since then. We have brought in changes now and then, but this is first time the we have embarked on a mega-revision of the curriculum.

The new curriculum we are envisioning will be very much different from the old curriculum and will be more relevant to the current society and also to the future of the Maldives.

JJ: Why do you think the A-Level Islam and Dhivehi subjects are proving so controversial?

ML: There are many changes in the present proposal, and one of the propositions is that all the subjects in higher secondary (A-Level) will be optional. The intention is to give students many different subject options, so they are not forced to take some subjects – rather they have the freedom to choose whatever they want.

That was the initial proposition. But it was taken very seriously by a group of people – initially we did not think it would be such an issue for these people. [On average] around 2000 students choose higher education every year, and all the rest, out of 10,000 students, do not.

We are taking about these 2000 students, not the rest. Previously we have had debates on whether we should teach primary grades in English or Dhivehi – but there was no enthusiasm for teaching in the Dhivehi language. Many people wanted to teach in English.

I think the Ministry’s steering committee did not think the proposal to make Dhivehi and Islam optional at A-Level would become such a big issue – it would not introduced this year or next, it would be in new curriculum.

JJ: The proposal to make these subjects optional is being perceived by some in the community as an assault on national identity – why do you think this has happened?

ML: I think there is a certain group of people who actually think that it is their responsibility and their duty to safeguard Maldivian culture and Maldivian religion, and that others are not treating this fairly.

But in fact we, as the educationalists, we are also taking care of our culture and religion and trying to train our students to become world citizens, rather than narrowing their perspective.

That may be one of the reasons why they have suspicions that we are not trying to do justice to the religion or language [of the Maldives], and that is obviously untrue.

JJ: Why make them optional? To encourage more students to take A-Level? Is there any evidence to suggest a lack of option is discouraging students from taking on A-Levels?

ML: No, it is not because of that. A-Level requires five five passes at O-Level, and those students who do pass go for A-Level. The reason [behind the proposal] was to give them the freedom to choose – that was the main reason.

JJ: Do you think forcing students to study Islam and Dhivehi at A-Level may be discourgaging them from higher education?

ML: You would have to ask the students. [Dhivehi and Islam] are not favourable subjects, actually – one reason may be the way they are taught and the quality of teachers, and also the reason that these subjects are not required to pursue higher education. Perhaps due to these reasons students do not give them equal attention as they do to other subjects.

JJ: Do you think a likely outcome is the revision of these subjects to make them more appealing to students?

ML: It should be done. Whether the subjects will be optional or not, we will revise them, and the curriculum, and we will train our teachers to teach these subjects in a better manner. That will be done.

JJ: Given the outcry this has caused already, do you think it is at all likely these subjects will become optional?

ML: It is still open for discussion – we haven’t concluded discussions yet. But we know this will not happen yet, not for several years when the new curriculum is implemented. I am not actually making these decisions, it is done in consultation with many groups of people, and that depends on result of the consultation process.

JJ: What is the pass percentage of the 10,000 students who complete O-Level?

ML: 32 percent. Last year it was 27 percent.

JJ: A 32 percent pass rate sounds extremely low – why is it so low, and how does in compare with the region?

ML: Even when it is compared with the region, it is very low. One reason is that we are teaching in a foreign language (English), and teachers may not be as conversant in the language as those who teach in their mother-tongue – that is one reason.

The other reason is we have teachers from other countries who do not remain with the students for a long period of time, only two years before another teacher comes. So a change of teachers is frequent. And the other reason may be the quality of teachers we have – mainly primary grade teachers.

We still have a lot of untrained teachers, and also teachers who trained several years ago who are not up to the standard that we would require to implement a natural curriculum. With them we have come this far.

We are focusing on improving certain areas – and one focus is on teachers. We are doing a lot of work upgrading teachers using the internet, business learning, reactivating teacher resource centres in the atolls and establishing teacher in-service training at the Centre for Continuing Education.

JJ: How has O-Level pass rate trended historically?

ML: Gradually it has been moving upwards. but this is the first time there has been such a large jump (five percent).

JJ: What is the pass rate of those students who go on to do A-Levels?

ML: A-Level pass rate last year was 69 percent. In 2004, 1835 students went on to A-Level. In 2009 it was 3244 students.

JJ: It is still surprising to hear so few students go through to do A-Level – what kind of effect do you think this has on Maldivian society?

ML: That’s a very important question, and it’s a question that we need a good answer for.

When students finish Grade 10, and when they do not have many other avenues to go to for education, they remain in society and have two years before they become adults at 18 years. So they have two years of not being able to get a job, and this is also a crucial period in their physical development.

During this time they are not in a school and due to this I think there will be negative impact on their behaviour and also on society.

Because of this we are thinking of a new venture – we are trying to keep students in the system until they are 18. We can do that by diversifying our curriculum – some can do A-Level, some can go for other programmes such as foundation and certificate level courses, and through that proceed to higher education.

So there are many ways there can go to higher education, and not only GSCE. We are trying to create paths for them to follow – this can be done through public-private partnerships, such as with Villa College. They are teaching A-Level, about they are also teaching other foundation courses as well.

So students even if they do not pass in five subjects they can continue their education. This year we are going start this programme and later expand it to the atolls, and we are hoping all students will remain in the system until they are 18.

JJ: We have heard anecdotal reports that some parents are bringing in outside tuition or coaching to make up for lapses in the education system. Is there any monitoring of this outside tuition?

ML: Unfortunately there is no monitoring – we do not track how many students go to outside education, and I don’t think schools do that. But we are trying to change schools into one session schools – so one batch of students come to a schools.

Previously, with two sessions, there was no space for students to become involved in extracurricular activities or remedial tuition, but it will be different now we have four one session schools in Male. By doing this schools can provide necessary help and find time and space.

But even then, unless parents are fully confident of the quality of education, they will continue to send their children to private education. Even then there is competition – they want their children to be the best.

JJ: If the standards do not approve does that mean that later down the line there will be a class issue between parents who can afford private tuition for their children and those who cannot?

ML: I don’t think there will be a class issue that is not there right now. One of the aims of education is to reduce disparity between people. We are consciously assisting disadvantaged groups in the country. It is one of the functions of the education system to reduce that disparity.

JJ: Are you concerned about the upcoming no-confidence motion in parliament against you?

ML: I’m not concerned about the no-confidence vote, but I am concerned about the possibility – and it’s very unlikely – the possible discontinuity to the work we are doing right now if it happens.

JJ: How would it affect the Ministry’s work it is doing now?

ML: It will affect us very much, because we have started our work very enthusiastically. I have been in the education system for a long time ever since I started teaching in the atolls, and in various institutions in the country and I know the system very well – and I know the important things we haven’t done.

So I think with the team I have we will be able to improve the education system very much within our period of time. If a new person comes, he or she may not have the vision I have. Of course it will depend on the manifesto, but even then, how you see the work and how you see other people and deal with the situation, it all matters in how you get appropriate results.

JJ: Where has the support been coming from?

ML: I’m getting good from the President and the cabinet ministers, and I’m also working very hard in convincing parliamentarians [as to the merits] of my position. I have distributed documents to them – one is the curriculum framework and a letter to suggest this is only a draft and nothing has been finalised, and they know this is consultation and debate. I also sent another letter answering questions raised in the debate, so the parliamentarians know my views on this.

JJ: What happened with the collapse of Arabiyya School’s wall?

ML: I don’t know why this became a big issue. When a school becomes unsafe for students we have to find an alternative. When we found the school was unsafe for students to remain there we have to find an alternative, and we did after consultation with parents and school board, and we negotiated finance to rebuild the school building (demolition work began today).

JJ: The school says it has been complaining about the wall for 15 years.

ML: We have only been here 18 months.

JJ: Do you think it is less than a coincidence that this no-confidence motion arrived at the same time as your decision to leave the Gaumee Itthihaad Party (GIP) and sign with the [ruling] Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP)?

ML: I don’t think so. I think this was going on even then. It is just a coincidence.

JJ: For the record, what was behind your decision to leave GIP?

ML: This is a very important question that many people have asked. I was one of the architects of forming the Gaumee Itthihaad Party. At that time [Vice President] Dr Mohammed Waheed Hassan (also a GIP member) was not in the Maldives. We worked tirelessly to form the party and Dr Waheed joined at the later stages. He is a good friend of mine and we worked together in the education ministry. I have strong faith in him.

We started this party and were very lucky that because Dr Waheed was with us he was taken as a running mate by[President] Nasheed. It was because of that our party became one of the strong parties in the coalition.

Unfortunately my views and Dr Waheed’s views changed – my view was that we should assist the government as much as possible and try to work as hard as possible to implement the manifesto promises. Dr Waheed wanted to do the same but then our party started acting as an opposition type of party – criticising from outside the government. That I did not like.

I was telling them that we cannot do that because we are a coalition partner and we have to be with the government all the time – this is the second year of a new democracy and we have to work very hard to get results as soon as possible, and it is not helpful our party to [criticise] while we are one of the strong parties in the government. But this continued and I thought I would not be able to tolerate it any more – that why I thought only thing for me to do was join MDP. That was the reason.

JJ: What was your view when (GIP member) Mohamed Rasheed was removed from the post of Economic Development Minister? Were you worried?

ML: I was very worried because we had two members from our party in the cabinet and he is a close friend of mine. We worked closely in forming GIP and I had good support from him. I was very unhappy with the decision [to remove him]. We did not like that – we did not want any of our cabinet members to be removed in that way.

JJ: Now GIP has lost two of its cabinet members, what is your view of the party’s future?

ML: GIP is a party of many members. Even if a few members leave the party I think the party will continue. But it is very unfortunate that very strong members of the party had to leave it.

JJ: What was your opinion of Dr Waheed’s holding a meeting with members of the opposition Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP)?

ML: My feeling was that it is OK for the Vice President to meet the opposition party members, but at that time when there was tension between the government and the opposition it was an unlucky coincidence. If it had happened at another time perhaps it would not have raised the concern that it did. For me it was OK to meet with them, but the time was not right.

JJ: The Human Rights Commission of the Maldives (HRCM) hasn’t quite got around to releasing its report on Lale Youth International School, the former principal of which is currently in court facing assault charges. Why wasn’t the Education Ministry monitoring the school?

ML: That school is one of the private partnership initiatives taken by the previous government. As soon as we started getting complaints we sent our supervision team there. The supervision team found some activities that should not happen in the school. We asked the police to investigate – that took some time.

We also informed HRCM, so two parties were investigating. In the meantime we followed suggestions given by the our own supervision team, while consulting with the Maldivian company (Biz Atoll) that took the school jointly with the Turkish group. We have seen their agreement – it is a very weak agreement. We revised the agreement in order to put in stronger conditions.

JJ: How seriously will the Ministry take the recommendations of the HRCM report, when it is released?

ML: We will take them very seriously. We have been very frank on this even from the initial stages – we were the people who reported this to the police. We have given the school conditions of our own to fulfill. So we will take those recommendations very seriously.

JJ: Is there a possibility that the school may be re-tendered and removed from Biz Atoll?

ML: I think there will be a possibility. In fact we consulted the Attorney General’s office on this before that report, thinking along that line.

JJ: We received many comments concerning the Lale case, that if the government is so serious about public-private partnerships but these sorts of thing can occur in a school, it doesn’t inspire public confidence in such partnerships. How do you address this?

ML: There is public confidence in public-private partnerships, like Villa International High School. I think parents and students are very happy about the progress of this school. These do inspire public confidence in public-private partnerships. The Lale case was an agreement done long before we came in [in government] and the agreements are not the kind we are doing now. It was a very simple agreement.

JJ: Was there any evidence of corruption in that agreement?

ML: I don’t know. It not fair for me to say. I haven’t investigated that part of it. I haven’t seen the report – only the draft. I think on our part we have taken Lale school issue very seriously and we have been doing work in order to change the situation. We are one of the group that brought this case to the independent authorities.

But these things should be reflected more in the report – the activities the Ministry has done. We are the people who know the schooling – we should know the students and the parents – we are professionals in this regard.

JJ: If you are voted out in parliament’s no-confidence motion, what will you go on to do afterwards?

ML: I have to think about it. There are different things I can do – I was in the previous government as Tourism Minister before I was transferred and resigned. These are not so complicated things. Life is like that.


Muthalib: “100 percent sure no-confidence motion against Education Minister will succeed”

A no-confidence motion against Education Minister Dr Musthafa Luthfy has put on parliament’s agenda for June 30, after the motion was put forward by Independent MP Ibrahim Muthalib.

Muthalib said that “by divine will” he was “100 percent sure the motion will succeed if the vote is taken.”

”We [and the MPs who signed the petition] forwarded the no-confidence motion because of many concerns we had,” said Muthalib, adding that he did “not want to talk further on the issue yet.”

Dr Luthfy has come under heavy criticism, extending to protests outside his home, after the ministry’s steering committee suggested that the subjects Islam and Dhivehi be made optional at A-Level.

Muthalib has also claimed that Dr Luthfy had told him that students of Arabbiya School, which was shut down after a wall collapsed, would be transferred to other schools.

Dr Luthfy told Minivan News that demolition work on the old site was starting tomorrow, so the refurbishment could begin.

Muthalib said that a meeting with the Education Minister was scheduled for Thursday at request of the minister.

“We now believe that national education matters will not go well because of the attitude and thinking of the Education Ministry, especially Mustafa Luthfy,” Muthalib said recently. “So [Luthfy] should either make amends or resign.”

Dr Luthfy meanwhile claimed that if the situation was dealt with fairly, there “was no issue that can lead to a no-confidence motion.”

”The constitution says that a no-confidence motion should be forwarded if either a minister fails to implement the government’s policy or if he or she was irresponsible in his duty,” Dr Luthfy said.

”I am a person whose duty is to implement government’s policy, and everything I do is done to implement the government’s policy.”

Dr Luthfy noted that the issues mentioned in the no-confidence motion were all religious matters.

On June 8, Muthalib presented a petition to forward the motion against Education Minister, which was signed by five independent MPs, three Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) MPs and two People’s Alliance (PA) MPs.

The government has meanwhile launched a spirited defense of the Education Minister.

“This is a part of DRP’s plan to pick off ministers one-by-one,” said the President’s Press Secretary, Mohamed Zuhair.

“First they plan to try and bring down the Education Minister, and if that succeeds they will then go after other ministers. This no-confidence motion is a shallow attempt to destabilise the government and the country.”