Cabinet advises formation of ‘National Institute of Education’

Cabinet ministers advised the President yesterday to create a ‘National Institute of Education’ following deliberations on a proposal by the Ministry of Education.

According to the President’s Office, during discussions on a paper submitted by the Education Ministry to the weekly cabinet meeting on Tuesday, ministers noted “the importance of shifting governmental focus to strengthening state efforts, provided the recent expansion of the education sector.”

Ministers also stressed the need for human resource development and providing more opportunities for higher education.

“Some members drew on the stark parallels between the chief functions of Educational Development Centre (EDC) and Centre for Continuing Education (CCE), being run under the supervision of Ministry of Education. Hence, it was strongly favored that the integration of these two separate institutions to form ‘National Institute for Education’, would ultimately lead to greater progress being achieved in the education sector,” reads a press briefing by the President’s Office.

According to the President’s office, the recommendation followed intense discussion over a paper submitted by the Education Minister.

Ministers in the cabinet meeting stated that it was important that more focus be drawn towards the education sector over its expansion over the last few years. Cabinet members also highlighted that more training and higher education was required for human resource development within the education sector.

The President’s Office claimed that the merging of two institutions would mean the facilities used by both institutions and be now utilised more effectively, and would enhance the quality of training offered to teachers and the national curriculum development process.

Commenting on  cabinet’s advice, former Education Minister Musthafa Luthfee raised doubts over cabinet minister’s statement that some of the works carried out by the EDC and CCED were similar.

“How can one say that it is doing similar work? One institution is responsible for development of the national curriculum, doing necessary research and providing resources for teachers, while the other is responsible for providing non-formal education and providing educational opportunities to those adults who have not had the opportunity to study. How can they be considered similar?” Luthfee questioned.

He further stated that forming a bigger institution was not a problem, but said that his fear was that the formation of a larger institute would disrupt the focus and attention needed for curriculum development.

“The biggest challenge to the Maldivian education system is that our curriculum is not as up to date as it should be. It has a lot of problems. A national curriculum is very important for the development of the country,” he said.

Luthfee stated that he was of the view that there should be a separate institution for curriculum development because it required a lot of attention and focus. He also raised doubts over whether the government had the capacity to run such an institution without losing focus on key areas.

“There may be the ease of resource sharing when the two institutions are merged, but if proper focus is not given to certain area, it could have a very negative impact on the country.”

CCED in its website describes itself as a pivotal professional institute under the Ministry of Education, which essentially carries the responsibility for improving the quality of teaching and learning in the Maldives. It promotes community education, enhances life-long learning and conducts adult literacy programs across the nation.

The role of CCED has expanded to include many professional development activities within the education sector.

Strategic changes were embraced within CCED due to the change in government educational policy in 2009. As a result, professional development programs were embedded in its mandate, which restructured the institution to facilitate the new demands of the education sector. The restructure of the centre led to the formation of units, sections and divisions with specific responsibilities for each.