Parents reject foreign principal and shut down school

Parents have shut down the Shaviyani Feydhoo school for two days by refusing to send their children to school.

The school, which had around 170 students, was closed on Sunday and Monday because parents were unhappy that a principal had not been appointed despite the academic year having already started.

The previous principal, Mathew Varugees, returned to India at the end of last year.

Aishath Mohamed from the school’s parent teacher association said “The parents are not happy. The school is being run without a princiapal and it is affecting the studies of the children.”

“The old principal could not speak Dhivehi and many parents can’t speak English, so there was a major communication issue,” she said. “We had many issues to discuss but it was not possible and no one was happy with the situation. Even Mr Varugees agreed there was a communication problem – that is why he left, he said this school needed a Maldivian principal.”

Aishath said a senior teacher, Mohamed Shahid, had been running the school in the interim, “but he only agreed to stay until the start of the school year, when a new principal was promised.”

Parents have gone to the island office and demanded a new principal within the next two weeks.

Principal was arranged

Their story clashes with that of the Feydhoo councilor, Mohamed Mustafa Ismail.

“A principal was arranged for our school by the education ministry. Everything was ready including accommodation and transfer,” he said.

“But when the parents found he was not a Maldivian principal, they didn’t accept it. They gathered outside the island office and said not to bring the principal, because they would not let him set foot on the island.

“Obviously we had to let the ministry know that we could’t bring him here, and they have now said they can’t find a Maldivian for the position.”

Mustafa said while the parents had given the government two weeks to find a Maldivian principal, “it’s not like we can go to a shop and buy one. It’s hard to find Maldivians who are qualified for the job.”

He blamed the teachers for failing to show teamwork with foreign principals.

“Good teamwork is needed to work when working with foreign people, but the Maldivian teachers don’t like it and they tell the parents who then react this way,” he said

“By closing down the school the parents have got it wrong. It is not the solution.”