India provides 74 scholarships to Maldivian students

India will provide scholarships for 74 Maldivian nationals to study in India for the 2014-2015 academic year.

The scholarships will be provided under a number of different schemes including the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR), which involves all university level under-graduate and post-graduate courses in Arts, Science, Engineering, Commerce, Business Administration and Law.

The Indian High Commission in Malé has described the response to the offer as “overwhelming”:

“The grant of 39 scholarships every year to Maldivian students is an important positive step forward in strengthening and promoting our cultural ties with Maldives, and it also adds another new dimension to the already warm and friendly relations between the two countries, based on mutual trust and understanding,” read a high commission press release.

Noting the longstanding educational links between the two countries, the press release said that 5,530 Maldivians have now completed the Technology Adoption Project launched in 2011 – including 3.053 teacher certifications, 1,674 youth certifications, 803 in ICT related courses.

17 of the ICCR scholarships – which cover all expenses, including international air passages, board, lodging, and internal transport – have already been awarded, with the rest currently being processed.


ACC orders re-evaluation of overseas student loan scheme

The Anti- Corruption Commission (ACC) has ordered the Ministry of Education to reevaluate the vetting procedures for a tertiary student loan scheme.

The scheme was opened in August 2013 for students seeking higher education abroad for courses that are not available in the Maldives.

However, in awarding points, the ministry’s Department of Higher Education had failed to cross-check if courses listed in applications were indeed not available in the Maldives, the commission said. Some applicants were awarded extra points for courses that are in fact available in the Maldives.

Further, one applicant was allowed the opportunity to change their application during the vetting process, the commission said.

Of the 614 students who had applied for higher education abroad, the ministry had chosen 250. On the ACC’s orders, the loan awarding ceremony on December 15 was called off minutes before it was scheduled to begin.

In a statement published today, the ACC said one applicant had applied for funds to study abroad for a law degree and was initially given zero points as a law degree is available in the Maldives.

However, the same applicant was later given the opportunity to change their field of study to international law – a course not available in the country. When the final list was published, the applicant had been awarded 10 points. The same opportunity had not been given to other applicants, the commission noted.

The ACC will investigate the case further as it constitutes awarding undue advantage under the prevention of corruption regulation, the statement said.

If a field of study is not available in the Maldives, applicants were not required to clarify the specific course or the institute or the country in which they intended to study, allowing applicants opportunity to make up any course in the application, the ACC said.

In December, the ACC also found issues with government vetting procedures in applications for the Veshifahi Malé programme after an investigation revealed that officials had violated the programme’s publicised processes when grading applications.

The commission subsequently ordered the Ministry of Housing and Infrastructure to invalidate applications for the programme.

In a recently released corruptions perception poll by local NGO Transparency Maldives, land services was revealed as the area in which most respondents had paid a bribe. In contrast, the education system was regarded as the least corrupt sector.


Scholarships worth MVR 1.5 million awarded to students by Villa College

Scholarships worth MVR 1.5 million (US$97,656) have been awarded to eight students chosen in a lucky draw by Villa College, local media has reported.

Five students were chosen in the lucky draw after the open day at the campus in Male’, and three more students were chosen from campuses in Fuvahmulah, Eydhafushi and Funadhoo in Shaviyani Atoll, Villa College told local media.

The college is to take care of all course-fee related expenses for those who were awarded the scholarships, and every student will have the opportunity to study up to a master’s degree, local media reported.


ACFJ offering scholarships in multimedia journalism

The Asia Center for Journalism (ACFJ) in the Philippines is offering a one-year program and 10 scholarships for journalists to undertake cross platform multimedia journalistic projects.

The work combines both theoretical and practical approaches with lectures and discussions as well as hands-on exercises and projects, the ACFJ said in a statement.

Admission is limited to 15 students. Scholarship grants are available to Asian journalists on a competitive basis.

Prospective students must have at least one full year of work experience as a photojournalist, photo-editor, photographer or journalist.

Application forms and scholarship details can be downloaded from the resources section of


Civil servants to receive Rf150,000, scholarships, SME loans for voluntary redundancy

Cabinet yesterday launched a program to encourage civil servants to leave the government and enter the private sector or further their education.

Under the scheme, civil servants and government employees will be eligible for one of four retirement incentive packages: no assistance, a one time payment of Rf 150,000 (US$11,700), a payment of Rf 150,000 and priority in the small and medium enterprises loan scheme (for those 18-50 years of age), or a lump sum of Rf 200,000 (US$15,600) and priority in government training and scholarship programmes (for those 18-40 years of age).

In addition, government employees above the age of 55 who retire voluntarily will be given the same benefits as those released by the Civil Service Commission (CSC) at the mandatory retirement age of 65.

The deadline to apply for the program with the Ministry of Finance is May 31, 2011.

The move is likely to win the government further favour with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), following its managed float of the rufiya and passing of several tax bills through parliament, including the tourism goods and services tax (TGST) and business profit tax.

However international financial organisations such as the World bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) have regarded the country’s bloated public wage bill as the key contributor to its 20-21 percent budget deficit, arguing that the country must reduce its expenditure as well as increase its revenue.

The deficit exploded on the back of a 400 percent increase in the government’s wage bill between 2004 and 2009, with tremendous growth between 2007 and 2009. On paper, the government increased average salaries from Rf3000 to Rf11,000 and boosted the size of the civil service from 24,000 to 32,000 people – 11 percent of the total population of the country – doubling government spending from 35 percent of GDP to 60 percent from 2004 to 2006.

Political maneuverings by the opposition last year forced the government to rescind pay cuts of 15 percent, leading the IMF to comment that “significant policy slippages” were threatening the country’s economic sustainability.

Several political skirmishes over pay cuts between the Finance Ministry and Civil Service Commission (CSC) ended in court last year, with permanent secretaries of Ministries at one stage submitting multiple wage forms in an effort to appease both sides.

Head of the CSC Mohamed Fahmy told Minivan News that the commission was “very positive” about the voluntary redundancy program.

“This is an opportunity particularly for young people to advance their studies and skills,” he suggested.

“We can’t yet say how people will react, but definitely the package for people 55 years and over is very good. I think this is positive encouragement – scholarships are hard to come by, and many parents are not in a position to fund their children’s education.”

The President’s Press Secretary Mohamed Zuhair claimed that the potential short term costs of the scheme “are not relatively high compared to the benefits in the long term.”

“We need to trim down the civil service to reduce state expenditure and have a healthier private sector,” he said. “Few other countries apart from North Korea employ such a high percentage of their population in government.”

Zuhair dismissed the possibility that such an incentive program would lead to a ministerial ‘brain drain’, as talented staff with prospects outside government rushed to leave the civil service.

“The civil service will continue to provide benefits such as long term security and upward mobility – I don’t think there will be a rush,” he predicted.

Political appointees would also be eligible for the program, he added, however following the replacement of government-appointed island councillors by elected representatives, “there are not more than about 170 appointees”.

In comparison, the Civil Service Commission (CSC) has 21,000 staff under its mandate, including 19,000 permanent staff and 2000 contractors.

The remaining public sector employers fall under an assortment of 100 percent government-owned corporations, particularly prevalent in the medical, education and media sectors, a loophole that allows the government to hire-and-fire staff without being subject to the jurisdiction of the CSC.

“Staff of the corporations are no longer civil servants but are still uniformed servants of the state,” Zuhair explained.

Yesterday’s move to incentivise the departure of civil servants is likely to draw further support from the IMF, which has finished its Article IV consultation and may be weighing up the provision of further support.


US$1.5 million for student loans, but drugs remain an obstacle for youth

Youth Minister Dr Hassan Latheef has said the ministry has budgeted Rf 19 million (US$1.5 million) to be given out as loans for young people to pursue higher education.

Latheef said the money would be distributed to provinces equally, with a view to increasing the number of educated professionals in the islands.

While Latheef claimed that during the MDP’s campaign across the islands he had witnessed a great amount of support for the ruling party among youth, the ongoing lack of education and employment opportunities for young people in the Maldives has led many to become involved in crimes, drugs and gang violence.

President Mohamed Nasheed has previously said that there is “not even a single family in the Maldives that has not been affected by drugs.”

In an effort to understand the country’s drug trade and its impact, Minivan News interviewed several self-described drug dealers in May last year, and was told that more treatment facilities and job opportunities would curb addiction.

One claimed to earn “at least Rf15,000 every day” (US$1167) selling drugs, approximately Rf465,000 per month (US$36,186).

”Everyday one person will buy at least three to five packets, sometimes people from the islands come and buy 40 packets also,” he said, claiming that each 0.03 gram ‘packet’ (of brown sugar) cost Rf 100 (US$7.70).

“All gangs are operated by people and money. Gangs earn money by selling drugs. If someone gets stabbed also the gangs would provide them with medication and financial assistance,” he told Minivan News, adding that drugs were imported into the country 1-2 kilograms at a time “with the assistance of high-profile people in the country.”

“Real drug dealers” did not use drugs themselves, he added.

Police statistics for 2010 showed that most arrests made across the Maldives in 2010 were for drug offences (1153), assault (941) and theft (773), and that most of these were first time offenders.

While the bulk of those arrested were young men aged between 17-23, key crimes committed by minors (aged under 18) were assault, theft and drug offences – albeit with an overall decline in 2010 on 2009.


India and Australia offer scholarships to Maldivian students

Australia and India have both announced scholarships to Maldivian students, which President Mohamed Nasheed has said will “fill a huge gap in our human resource needs”.

Australia has doubled the number of scholarships offered to the Maldives, offering a total of 31 scholarships under the ‘Australia Awards’ program, with a total value of AUD$4.1 million. Six students have been awarded an Australian Leadership Award Scholarship (ALAS), while the remaining students have been awarded Australian Development Scholarships (ADS).

“If we didn’t get these we would have to spend amazing amount of funds,” President Nasheed said, while Australian High Commissioner to the Maldives and Sri Lanka, Kathy Klugman, said while Australia had a “very long standing, a very deep and a productive relationship” with the Maldives, stating that as a result of the interactions with the Australian government by President Nasheed this year, “we’ve just now taken [Australia-Maldives] relationship to an entirely new level”.

Following President Nasheed’s meeting with the then Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd in Canberra earlier this year, the Australian government announced Australia’s aid programme for the Maldives, including an increased number of scholarships.

India has also announced 37 scholarships this year for Maldivian students to institutes of higher education in the country, through the Indian Council of Cultural Relations (ICCR).

A statement from the Indian High Commission said the scholarships for Graduate/Post Graduate courses were open to all Maldivian students who have completed their A level exams and prerequisite subjects.

The High Commission noted that besides providing students placements in prestigious Indian Institutes, the scholarships also included airfares, tuition fees and a living allowance. More details available on

India provides approximately 90 scholarships/training slots to Maldivian citizens every year.


Australia and the Maldives strengthening diplomatic relations

Vice President Dr Mohamed Waheed met with Australian High Commissioner to Sri Lanka and the Maldives, Kathy Klugman, where they discussed the challenges faced by the Maldives and ways in which Australia could assist the government.

Dr Waheed said some of the biggest challenges are employing well trained staff at drug rehabilitation centres, building safer prisons and the lack of job opportunities for Maldivian youth.

Klugman said there are different works being carried out by the Australian government in the Maldives, especially volunteer training programmes in different atolls.

She also mentioned several Australian scholarships for Maldivian students, and said these scholarships present a good opportunity for training in the area of drug rehabilitation.

The meeting took place a day after the first-ever Australian diplomatic event in the Maldives at the Holiday Inn on Sunday, where President Mohamed Nasheed thanked the Australian people and government for their assistance to the Maldives.

He also commended Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd for his help in making the Copenhagen Accord a reality and for his honesty and good work as a politician.

Klugman also spoke at the function. She congratulated the government on the transition to democracy and assured further assistance from Australia to the Maldives, especially in the education sector.