Framework for teacher evaluation introduced

The Ministry of Education has introduced a technical framework for the evaluation of teachers, local media has reported.

“We created this criterion after observing how it is done in other countries, the status of teaching staff currently working in the Maldives and after having considered the things society accepted as which should be stated on the teacher’s work contract,” Sun Online quoted State Minister for Education Adam Shareef Umar as saying.

“Teachers will be able to identify what they can do to improve themselves in the light of this criterion,” he said, speaking at a ceremony held in the ministry yesterday (February 24).

Earlier yesterday, Education Minister Dr Aishath Shiham expressed satisfaction with her ministry’s efforts during the government’s first 100 days.

Although Dr Shiham noted that work is in progress with regards to increasing allowances for teachers, the Teachers Association said the it had no knowledge of such efforts, and was still awaiting an opportunity to meet with ministry heads with regards to pay discrepancies.

“The government have started some things within this period, and they maybe important things and good policies. But it is more important to fix the existing loopholes in the education system,” said association President Athif Abdul Hakeem.

He said the association was continuing to plan nation-wide strikes in relation to the issue.


Indian teacher working at Eydhafushi School found dead in suspected suicide

An Indian computer teacher working at Baa Atoll School on the island of Eydhafushi has been found dead in a suspected suicide.

The Eydhafushi Times, an online newspaper based on the island, identified the teacher as 27 year-old Shathis Raj.

Eydhafushi Island Councilor Mohamed Riza told Minivan News that he was called by the council and informed of  the incident at 9:30 am this morning.

‘’I went [to the victim’s house] 10 minutes later and the body had already been taken to the hospital. But I waited and took a look at the scene,’’ Riza said.

Riza said he went to the hospital where he received news that the teacher had been dead for eight hours.

‘’We do not know why he had committed suicide, there are lots of rumors spreading around but I do not wish to say those things because they might not be true,’’ he said.

‘’He was a very friendly teacher and hangs out with islanders,’’ he said. ‘’He has been working on this island for three years and five months.’’

According to Riza, the teacher was admitted to the hospital last week after he attempted suicide by eating some pills.

The Head of Eydhafushi Hospital Ahmed Waheed said the body was brought to the hospital this morning around 10:00am, where doctors pronounced him dead. The body was sent to Dharavandhoo island [in Baa Atoll] to be sent to Male’.’’

Waheed said there were rumors going around saying that the teacher’s suicide was related to his relationship with a woman.


Indian teachers request transfer, quit posts after Kumundhoo school attack

Almost a dozen Indian teachers on Kumundhoo in Haa Dhaalu Atoll have either resigned from their posts or requested transfers to another island following the assault of a colleague on school premises last week, diplomatic officials have confirmed.

Diplomatic sources said Indian High Commissioner Rajeev Shahare was meanwhile in the process of arranging talks with Maldivian education authorities to discuss the issue of teacher safety.

The Indian High Commission in the Maldives told Minivan News it received requests from eight Indian nationals currently working as teachers on Kumundhoo to be transferred to another island over concerns about their safety.

According to the commission, two other expatriate teachers on the island have also handed in their resignation after physics teacher Neelakantan Pappukutty Subash Kumar was assaulted in the school on May 14 by an angry mob accusing him of hitting a student in the chest.

One expatriate teacher on the island, who has since handed in their resignation, was also claimed to have received minor injuries trying to prevent the assault, an Indian diplomatic official told Minivan News this week.

Despite the concerns about teacher safety, the high commission said yesterday (May 19) that the response of the education ministry had so far been “positive” in terms of their handling of the attack on the Indian national.

Kumundhoo Island Councilor Ali Anwar claimed on May 15 that islanders had destroyed a a power distribution unit outside the school to cut off its electricity, before then entering and attacking the teacher, despite efforts by staff to try and prevent the assault.

So far eight suspects are being held in police custody over the attack, police confirmed today.

After being initially hospitalised after the assault, Kumar’s condition is not thought to be critical.  The high commission has claimed the teacher was now waiting for the Education Ministry to renew his work visa that expired last month, so that he can be returned to India for treatment.

A “mutual time” was also being sought for High Commissioner Shahare to meet with the country’s education officials to discuss the issue of “better security” for expatriate teachers.

Minivan News was awaiting a response from the Ministry of Education at time of press.

Ongoing concerns

Despite the high commission’s praise for the education ministry this week, one Indian diplomatic source said following the attack that the injured teacher’s treatment continued to highlight ongoing concerns over the Maldives’ treatment of foreign workers.

These concerns were said to be based around issues such as the retention of passports and travel documents by private and state employers.

“The fact remains that [Kumar’s] work permit has not been renewed. He was a government employee –  they should have renewed his documents before they expired, not afterwards,” the diplomatic source said last week.  ”This [issue] has been going on for over one and a half years now.”

A senior Indian doctor in the Maldives has also previously alleged that expatriate professionals regullarly  face intimidation and fraud in the country from employers and the public.


Kumundhoo islanders bash Indian teacher after accusing him of hitting student

An Indian physics teacher has been hospitalised after a group of angry islanders confronted him on the island of Kumundhoo in Haa Dhaalu Atoll, and beat him up after accusing him of hitting a student in the chest.

Police Media Official Ismail Ali confirmed the incident occurred and had been reported to police.

“At the time I don’t have details of the case. Police are still on the island since last night,” he said.

Speaking to Minivan News, Island Councilor Ali Anwar said he heard of the incident yesterday at 5:30pm.

“Yesterday afternoon the expat teacher hit a 13 year-old student in the chest and the child fell and couldn’t breathe and was taken to the health centre,” Anwar said. “The islanders became angry at the teacher and gathered outside the school. The security guard and school staff were unable to control them.”

He said the islanders destroyed a power distribution unit outside the school cutting off its electricity, and then attacked the expat teacher.

Anwar said the police were called immediately when the islanders gathered in front of the school, but arrived at 8:00pm that night after everything had ended.

“I understand that the Indian teacher has been admitted to Kulhudhuffushi Hospital and the injuries he received are not clear,” he said.

“No one on this island wishes to have him back so we don’t think he will return,” he added.

Police are still active on the island investigating the case, however no one has been arrested, according to Anwar.


Young Indian teacher hospitalised in “very serious condition” after alleged rape

A young Indian teacher working on the island of Dhangethi in Alif Dhaal Atoll has been hospitalised after a group of people broke into her home on Sunday night and allegedly raped her.

The 25 year-old woman is in a “very serious condition” following the attack, said the Island Council President Azim Adam.

“They broke in [to her house] around 2:15am. I came to know about it at 4:00am and I instantly reported it to the police. The girl is now in the atoll hospital in a very serious condition,” Adam said.

A source close to the victim said she was in the hospital’s intensive care unit but was “bleeding uncontrollably.”

“We have put seven pints of blood into her but she is still bleeding. It is a very serious issue. We are planning to send her to India, there is not much more we are able to do here,” the source said, adding that her brother had arrived in the Maldives and was on the island.

The Indian High Commission in the capital Male’ said it had been informed of the incident and had received the woman’s details from the police.

Maldives Police Service (MPS) Spokesperson Sub Inspector Hassan Haneef said specialist teams were investigating the incident. He could not confirm whether any arrests had been made, but said further details would be released to the media at a later stage.

Local media reported that the woman was teaching a private computer course on the island.

Island Council President Adam said the young woman had been working on the island for less than a month, and described her as a “very kind person who was very friendly towards the local islanders”.

Dhangethi is the third largest populated island of Alif Dhaal Atoll, with a population of around 1200 people.

An official from the Indian High Commission noted that a similar case had occurred in 2011 involving an Indian nurse working on an island in the Maldives.

“I told the police that [in 2011] there was a rape case like this whereby a nurse was raped on one of the islands. However in that instance all of the suspects were later acquitted in court,” the official added.


Comment: Justice unserved

The Maldivian justice system works on a somewhat ‘He who smelt it dealt it’ routine. Criminal law, procedure or policy is drastically lacking, with personal reputation, political affiliation and physical appearance forming the basis for arrest, and in some circumstances: conviction. T

The country relies, heavily, on the two witness rule, lacks any institution dealing with forensic science and allows incompetent judges to interpret the Quran. The word ‘warrant’ does not even exist in the Maldivian criminal dictionary and ‘probable cause’ or ‘rights’ are alien concepts to local police. When one party lodges a complaint with the police, the opposing party immediately takes the role of defendant; being arrested at the police’s pleasure and held for lengthy periods of time without charge. This is what they call the ‘investigation period’ which may only be performed whilst the accused is in custody. Point the finger at someone you claim smelt it and the police will assume he dealt it.

I am not politically affiliated. My cause, more or less, has been the Rule of Law and I am not aware that any government in the Maldives, be it dictatorship or elected has gone a long way to implement it.

Within the first few weeks of being in Hinnavaru as a volunteer teacher, a boy was placed under house arrest by the police for 14 days. This was 2009 and the first democratically elected government was in power. The police claimed the accused had intoxicated a minor and served as judge and jury in convicting him of the crime; even though no witnesses came forward and the minor’s toxicology report was negative.  I screamed bloody murder in the police station; I showed vehemence and flashed a printed copy of my law degree under their noses to no avail. They cared nothing for they believed in the power they possessed.

Months later I, myself, had a brush with the law when I was hauled down to a Male’ police station in a case of domestic disturbance (or so I suppose since I was not told why I was escorted to the station).

Whilst moving from my flat, my boyfriend, who had come over to help me pack, and I made some noise which upset the landlady’s brother. He burst into my room in a rage and held a screwdriver to my boyfriend’s neck. In a twist of events, his sister, my landlady, called the police. My shirtless boyfriend was escorted out of the building by officers and I was asked to come with them to the police station. The treatment offered him and I was vastly different; him being seen as the dark skinned aggressor with yellow eyes and I the British national working at a local TV station.

We were questioned separately, I again waved my printed degree in their faces and we were allowed to leave. Screwdriver boy was never questioned on his role in the incident; his side called the police first, hence he would be the victim evermore.

Some weeks later, whilst I was visiting Hinnavaru, my boyfriend was dragged off to Naifaru jail, under court order, to face charges for a crime; he had, allegedly committed 8 years earlier. The whole case was based on the hear say evidence of young men who claimed my boyfriend had assaulted them. The two boys lodged the complaint against him with the police and also served as the two requisite witnesses in their own case.

The irony was hardly lost on me. I again screamed bloody murder and dragged myself across Male’ spewing words like ‘arbitrary arrest’, ‘statute of limitations’, ‘rule of law’ and ‘reading of rights’. My words were considered worthy of Thilafushi. My boyfriend was exonerated as the witnesses recanted from their earlier statements in court. The Prosecutor could have saved everyone time, money and heartbreak if he had even bothered to check in with his star witnesses.

Recently I started to hear of strange happenings on my old island of Hinnavaru. Boys found on the street after 10pm are arrested, taken over to the local station and coerced into peeing in a cup. They need no warrant and no probable cause. The police has imposed an un-official curfew and breaking it means they have access to fluid from your person. Young boys are arrested every night and this is not hear say. It is on-going.

On 31 July my boyfriend was arrested for allegedly ordering an assault on a young man, who was brutally beaten earlier in the day and hospitalised.

The victim claims that although my boyfriend was not present during the incident, he is sure the attack was ordered by him. In this case he doesn’t even claim that the fart was dealt, but that my boyfriend must have provided the beans. The police did not think to question him as would be customary to do in such a situation, but arrested him and took him over to Naifaru jail. I have no idea how long he will be there or how long this ‘investigation’ will continue.

The worst part is; no matter what the outcome, the trial shall not be held for years to come, but this arrest will hang over his head until such a date. People in the Maldives do not have criminal records; rather they have what is called a ‘police report.’ One may not have a job or travel abroad whilst their police report states they are awaiting trial.

In the Maldives, you are not innocent until proven guilty; you are guilty until the slow machine called the justice system, chugs itself out of the hole it resides in.  I hear the cries of a corrupt judiciary and I find myself nodding in acquiescence for I have seen this corruption. I plead to the government of the day or those incumbent to pay more attention to the Rule of Law, however. Arbitrary arrests, incompetent police officers and mainly the lack of a criminal code are as responsible if not more so for the death of justice.

My favourite time in the Maldives was the month of Ramadan. For this one month, the air was tranquil, gossip at an all time low, children played on the streets into the wee hours of the morning and prejudice desisted. Whether you were an old, gossipy jolifathi lady, a jagah boy, a shop vendor or politician you just got on and enjoyed the month. I hate to think of this month as the month of arrests; it unnerves me.

Lubna Awan was formerly a volunteer teacher on the island of Hinnavaru.

All comment pieces are the sole view of the author and do not reflect the editorial policy of Minivan News. If you would like to write an opinion piece, please send proposals to [email protected]


Indian teacher tied up after islanders mistake compass for crucifix

An Indian teacher on Foakaidhoo in Shaviyani Atoll has been rescued by authorities after islanders tied her up and attempted to throw her off the island for allegedly drawing a crucifix.

Haveeru reported that senior teacher at the island’s school Ibrahim Rasheed attempted to explain to the “devout Muslim” parents that the design drawn was a plus symbol marking north, south, east, and west directions on a map.

Following a joint investigation by the Parent-Teacher Association and school management, “they refused to accept the facts when their claim that the teacher had drawn a [crucifix] was explained,” Rasheed told Haveeru.

Students and parents protested outside the school on Wednesday evening, he said.

Meanwhile the teacher, who has worked at the school for three years, has been moved to Funadhoo.