Maldives achieves 5 of 8 Millennium Development Goals

The Maldives has achieved all but three of the eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), local media has reported.

However, the country must do more to promote gender equality and empowering women, ensuring environmental sustainability, and creating global partnerships for development, according to Haveeru.

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) made the announcement Monday (June 18), adding that the Maldives’ country report on the MDGs will be released this year.

The last report on the Maldives’ progress in trying to achieve the eight MDGs was published in 2010.

Thus far, the Maldives has achieved the MDGs of universal primary education, reducing child mortality rates, improving maternal health, as well as combating HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases.

However, the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) recently announced that the Maldives has also met part of the goal to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger by halving the percentage of hungry people in the country.

The MDGs are a blueprint agreed upon by all the world’s countries and leading development institutions to galvanize efforts to meet needs of the world’s poorest, with the achievement target date of 2015.


Liberian player signed to Maldivian football club “trapped” in Male’ after salary dispute

A Liberian striker brought in to play for a Maldivian football club has spoken of his desperation as he remains trapped in the Maldives with no money and no ticket home.

Wright Charles Gaye, a former striker for Maldivian football club Club Valencia, has spent the last six months living in poverty after the club failed to provide him with two month’s owed salary and a promised one-way ticket home.

Speaking to Minivan News on Thursday (March 7), the 27-year-old Liberian national revealed how he had been forced to live in accommodation with no water or electricity, having to survive on handouts from club officials and other players.

“It has been terrible. I am owed US$2,600 and a one-way-ticket home to Liberia, but for six months I have received nothing.

“It’s hard because I have family back in Africa. They are looking to me because I have to send money back. My son is no longer is school because I don’t have the money to send home,” Charles said.

The issue has now attracted the attention of Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), after Charles lodged a formal complaint to the international organisation.

A letter from FIFA calls for the Football Association of Maldives (FAM) to provide Club Valencia’s position on the claim lodged by Charles no later than March 25.

FAM was not responding to calls from Minivan News at time of press.

Charles, who has played for multiple clubs in Maldives, Sri Lanka and Liberia, claimed that Valencia’s Chairman Ibrahim Raai Rasheed had told him not to put anything in the news regarding his situation.

“He [Rasheed] is going around telling people that everything is okay for me. But if you want to believe that you can come and see my apartment.

“A former official from the club is giving me MVR 500 (US$32) a week because he feels sorry for me. It’s hard to survive on, but I feel ashamed to be calling for help,” he added.

The Liberian striker said that he had been recently moved into a guest house by his former club after he complained about the lack of electricity and water at his apartment.

Charles claimed that Rasheed had made multiple “promises” to the striker, assuring him that he would be given his wages and a flight home, but each time the chairman did not deliver.

“Sometimes the chairman would call me and say ‘Charles pack your things, you are leaving tomorrow, get your money together and get ready’, so when I pack and call him back, he doesn’t pick up. This has happened two or three times,” Charles said.

“In December I was told I would be leaving on December 23 and would arrive on December 25 on Christmas morning. It meant I would see my son and would get to spend Christmas with him. But over the next few days he was not taking my calls. When he did eventually pick up, he would just say ‘I’m busy, I’ll call you back,” he added.

Club Valencia responds

Responding to the footballer’s claims, Club Valencia Management – when contacted by Minivan News – said that Charles will be paid his full wages and will be given a ticket home to Liberia in Africa.

“There has been a lot of miscommunication recently. Charles has communicated with me on only a few things, but I feel bad for him,” a club official claimed. “His salary and ticket home is now all sorted had he will be returning home.”

The club’s management denied that Charles’ apartment was without running water and electricity, adding that they had written proof of utility bills for the months he had stayed there.

The reason behind the delay in Charles’ payments – according to Club Valencia Management – was that there had been delays in financial assistance from the sports ministry and from the club’s sponsorship.

Despite Valencia’s claims of financial hardship, the Liberian striker claimed that the club had recently brought in three foreign new players and a new coach for the team.

“[Valencia] must have the money. If they don’t, how can they bring in these new players, put them in a big hotel and let them eat in good restaurants? How can they do all that and not pay me?” Charles said.

Club Valencia Management confirmed that three new players and a coach had been taken on by the club.

Life as a foreign footballer in the Maldives

Wright Charles Gaye came to the Maldives four years ago after being signed by New Radiant SC, where he experienced similar pay disputes with the club before transferring to VB Addu FC – known as VB Sport Club until January 2012.

Following a complaint to the Football Association of Maldives over a lack of pay for six months, Charles was eventually paid by New Radiant SC in November 2012.

The striker joined Valencia in the June 2012 transfer period, and started playing in July until the clubs last game on September 28.

Having allegedly only received one month’s pay for July, Charles then left the club and has been waiting for a promised ‘one-way-ticket’ home and his remaining two month salary.

“When you first come to the Maldives as a player, they talk to you nicely and treat you well, but as soon as you sign the papers, it all finishes.

“Some Maldivian players have the same issue, I know two or three players from different clubs who have had payment problems, but for the foreign players it is worse,” Charles said.

The Liberian national also revealed how certain clubs retain foreign player’s passports over concern that the players will buy their own tickets and fly home.

“I have a friend who played here from Cameroon and the club hid his passport, and would not return it when he asked for it back.

“Whenever you ask for your passport they would give you a story, maybe say that is being kept in immigration. They have asked for mine before, but I know what would happen if I gave it them,” Charles alleged.

Addendum: Wright Charles Gaye subsequently contacted Minivan News to say Valencia had paid the US$2,600, an additional one month’s salary and had booked him a one-way flight to Liberia.



Average Maldivian citizen has 4.7 years of education, finds UN Human Development Report

Education in the Maldives is generally behind regional neighbours such as Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, despite an 18 percent increase in the average number of years spent at school between 1990 and 2010.

The average Maldivian citizen had 4.7 years of schooling in 2010, compared with 3.9 years in 2005, according to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP’s) 2010 Human Development Report. This was almost a third of the country’s ‘expected level of schooling’ of 12.4 years.

Despite the recent improvement, the Maldives remains behind Bangladesh and Sri Lanka in terms of average schooling, which were ranked at 4.8 and 8.2 years respectively. UK and US students spend on average 9.5 and 12.4 years of their lives in education by comparison, according to the report’s findings.

The overall findings compiled by UNDP painted a mixed picture for human development in the Maldives, with a comparatively high life expectancy of 72.3 contrasting with concerns over education and gender equality in the country.

For 2010, the Maldives was ranked 107 out of 160 nations under the UNDP’s Human Development Index (HDI), which is used to measure long-term national achievements in providing citizens with “a long and healthy life, access to knowledge and a decent standard of life.” The Maldives has climbed four places since 2005.

Speaking at the launch of the report, Vice President Dr Mohamed Waheed said that failure to the current failure obtain parliamentary approval for cabinet members would not be a long term setback to the country’s development aspirations though.

“Development and democracy goals are generally accepted by all parties, but clearly there are difficulties,” he said. “I don’t believe the [cabinet controversy] will seriously affect the long-term human development objectives of this or a future government.”

Despite praising an increase in average life expectancy of six years in the last decade, Dr Waheed raised concerns over inequality across the nation’s atolls, particularly among women in terms of both education and politics.

“Women are not contesting in elections as much as we had hoped,” he said. “We hope February’s council elections will see much higher numbers [of female candidates].”

Dr Waheed claimed that in areas such as poverty reduction, the Maldives was doing “quite well”, though he added that economic recession in the last few years had been a setback to these goals.

UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative Andrew Cox said he agreed with the Vice President’s view of the report. Cox added that the latest UNDP figures showed the Maldives’ HDI was generally above the regional average for South Asia.

Report Findings

Posting an average life expectancy rate of 72.3 years of age, the Maldives was found to be ahead of other nearby nations such as Bangladesh (66.9 years) and Thailand (69.3 years), though behind Sri Lanka (74.4 years). Western nations like the UK and the US recorded average life expectancy rates of 79.8 and 79.6 years of age respectively.

In the area of gender equality, the report used a new index system that looked at a number of specific factors such as reproductive health, the gender share of parliamentary seats and educational achievements and economic activity to identify the possible disadvantages to women in a nation.

Using this Gender Inequality Index (GII), the Maldives was ranked 58 out of 138 countries based on data supplied from 2008. By comparison, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh were ranked 72 and 116 respectively under the same conditions.

In terms of education, 31 per cent of Maldivian females had obtained a secondary or higher level of education as opposed to 37 percent of Maldivian men. In addition, female participation in the labour market was found to stand at 58 percent, compared to 77 percent among males. Unemployment was 14.4 percent.

The report found that 23.5 of every 100 citizens had access to the internet.