Teachers’ Day tradition provokes financial dispute

Wednesday, October 4 will be celebrated as Teachers’ Day, however reports state that parents are objecting to some schools’ request for a Rf100 (US$6.50) donation towards the festivities.

Deputy Minister of Education Ibrahim Rasheed said that he had not received any complaints regarding the celebrations. Rasheed said Teachers’ Day celebrations were voluntary, and that it was up to the parents to contribute.

He expressly noted that donations were not required by the ministry.

“It’s up to the parents. If the parents organise an activity it’s up to them to decide how they will do it,” said Rasheed.

According to local media, all schools have asked for donations, but the request became an issue when some schools set a fixed amount. One parent allegedly said her child was asked to bring “good” gifts, and that she felt forced to donate to the celebrations because the school was keeping a record of contributors.

Rasheed said it was tradition for students to bring teachers cards and flowers in appreciation, and supposed that the request for donations had been organised by the school board or parent teacher associations (PTAs). He confirmed that no part of the school budget is set aside for Teachers’ Day.

PTAs play a significant role in school decisions. For many parents, education is important; one source indicated that parents have requested improvements beyond the state budget’s scope, and that they may be asked to supply the necessary financing to realise their demands.

The Principal of Ameeniya School, Athiya Naseer, had not heard of complaints at other schools but said state budgets are insufficient. “We can hold extra curricular activities, but depending on the type of activity we may have to fundraise,” she said. “Everyone shares in the fundraising though, parents and students and teachers.”

Teachers are important figures in the community “who are doing their jobs very well,” said Rasheed. However, some consider salaries proportionately low.

“The salaries are very low compared to the cost of living,” said Naseer. “Many teachers tutor on the side.” Naseer could not say if teachers felt pressed to tutor to make ends meet.

Rasheed did not wish to comment on matter.

“The whole world is undergoing a serious economic downturn at the moment,” said Deputy Director General of the Center for Continuing Education (CCE), Adam Sharaaf Umar. “It will certainly affect the education system and other sectors as well. But teachers are optimistic, and always working hard at their jobs.”

Tomorrow’s festivities will start in the morning with students and parents welcoming teachers to schools. The Teaching Excellence Award 2011 will be announced tomorrow evening at Dharubaaruge, an event which President Mohamed Nasheed is expected to attend.

On October 8, CCE will host a teacher conference “to share and contribute practices and exchange views on how to apply new ideas in the classroom,” said Umar.


Aminiyya School board threaten resignation over introduction of grade one

The board of the girls-only ‘Aminiyya School’ have expressed concern over the Education Ministry’s decision to introduce grade 1 students to the school next year, claiming that the structural integrity of the building made it a danger to minors.

Ahmed Ali, a board member of the school, told Minivan News that the board members were concerned that the school building was “very old and weak”.

“The building is 32 years-old and was built with stones, it is very weak and if minors were brought in it would be very dangerous,’’ claimed Ahmed. “We have informed the education ministry several times about the condition of the building – last Sunday the whole board went for an urgent meeting with the ministry to discuss the issue.’’

The whole board, Ahmed said declined to bring minors to the school unless the building was renewed or refurbished to a strong condition and decided to resign if the ministry acted otherwise.

‘’The education ministry said there was nowhere elsewhere to keep the students,’’ said Ahmed.

The board also claimed it opposed the introduction of grade 1 students because of “social issues”.

“This is a school for females and some of them wear short skirts up to the knees,” said Ahmed. “If minors were brought in parents will have to come inside the school compound to fetch the students. If parents can come inside the schools compound, it won’t be only parents who will come in.’’

He claimed that other people would also come into the school “and harass the students.”

Deputy Minister for Education Dr Abdulla Nazeer said the ministry was aware of the concerns of the board.

“Their main concern was the building and it’s structural weaknesses,’’ said Dr Nazeer. “We have surveyed the building to determine its condition and have included the money needed to renew the building in our budget.’’

Dr Nazeer said when the parliament approves the budget, the project to renew the building will be commence.