More than 100,000 students will take part in a parade in Malé and other islands on Saturday as part of Independence Day celebrations, the home ministry has said.
The ‘Independence 50 office’ under the home ministry revealed today that schools from all 20 atolls and the capital will join the parade to mark the golden jubilee of independence.
“We estimate than more than 100,000 students will participate in the parade. A total of 22 schools in Malé will join the parade,” state minister for home affairs Ahmed ‘Maaz’ Saleem said at a press conference this morning.
However, according to statistics from the education ministry, the number of students in government, community and private schools in the Maldives is 86,799.
The home ministry’s spokesperson Thazmeel Abdul Samad said the students will be dressed in colours of the national flag. In Malé, the parade will be held on the two largest streets – Majeedhee Magu and Ameenee Magu.
Students from the atolls will march in the biggest street of their island, he said.
The government has organised numerous events ahead of the upcoming 50th anniversary of independence on July 26.
Several events have taken place in recent weeks and the home ministry has said it will announce more events in the future.
The events include skydiving, swimming competitions, a sea sports festival, a world record attempt, parades, float parades, an international football tournament, a police football tournament, several music shows and the unveiling of new currency designs.
The government has also started decorating the streets of Malé with national flags and sacrificed 150 goats in a public ceremony in April.
The Independence Day celebrations have drawn criticism over the lack of transparency of expenses made out of the state budget.
However, Saleem said most of the work is done by volunteers.
“We organised the events in a way so that we can enlist volunteers in helping us. But we are handing out material costs and also wages for professional workers,” Saleem said.
Thazmeel also insisted that the expenses were legal and made in accordance with public finance regulations, but did not offer details.
The opposition has criticised the government for holding independence celebrations soon after jailing opposition leaders including ex-president Mohamed Nasheed on terrorism charges.
The opposition had held daily protests and two mass demonstrations on February 27 and May 1. Nearly 200 people were arrested from the May Day protest.
The opposition halted its weekly protest march on Saturday to make way for a float parade.
“How can they stop our protest for a float parade? That’s depriving us of our rights. Any way no one had bothered to come and look at some floats,” MP Rozaina Adam said at a Maldivian Democratic Party national council meeting yesterday.
This article previously stated the parade will take place on Thursday. This is incorrect. The parade is to take place on Saturday.