The education ministry closed down schools in Laamu Atoll for President Abdulla Yameen’s visit to the southern atoll today, requesting students and parents to attend government rallies instead.
Schools were closed in the Gan, Maavah and Fonadhoo islands.
Announcements posted outside the three schools said classes scheduled for today would be held during the weekend on Saturday. A memo was also sent to parents, inviting them to welcome the president on his arrival at the Kahdhoo airport.
Free transportation was also provided.
Parents were also asked to attend a ceremony at the Laamu Atoll Education Center to mark the relocation of the residents of Gahdhoo Island to Fonadhoo of the same atoll.
Parents were told to wear national colours, according to an SMS sent by the school.
Education ministry officials were not responding to calls at the time of going to press.
A councillor from the atoll, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said: “All three schools have been closed for today and the missed classes are to be taken on Saturday. President Yameen arrived today and is to leave the next day, so there does not seem to be any other reason why the schools should be closed for just the one day.”
Large number of students in school uniforms have welcomed and attended several rallies held by the government during Yameen’s recent visits to the atolls. Some have staged dances and performances for his visits.
According to online paper CNM, teachers at the Dhaalu Atoll Kudahuvadhoo Education Center told students their attendance would be monitored at the ceremony to welcome the president last week.
Students in school uniforms also attended a ruling Progressive Party of the Maldives-led celebration of an award handed to Yameen by an Indian NGO last month.
The practice has drawn criticism from opposition supporters, who have labeled practice “dictatorial.”
The president has been making frequent trips to the atolls of late. In addition to Laamu and Dhaalu Atolls, he visited southern Addu City, Gaaf Dhaal and Gaaf Alif Atolls, Alif Alif and Alif Dhaal Atolls, Noonu Atoll and Haa Alif Atoll this year alone.
— Een☆RaeesYameen2018☆ (@EenInoo) April 27, 2016
— issu (@issumueen) February 16, 2016
Ballavaa MDP ..Thinadhoo in Raees Yameen ah miohkee hoonu maruhabaaeh..Mivareh hama neh ingethoa.. pic.twitter.com/Ta1imW2vDk
— Ahmed Thaufeeg (@ThaufeegAhmed) February 15, 2016
Additional reporting and writing by Zaheena Rasheed