Schools across the Maldives opened today for the new academic year with more than 75,000 students enrolled in 223 schools.
Outlining key preparations for the new school year, Education Minister Dr Aishath Shiham said the new curriculum introduced in 2015 for grades one through three is being extended for grades four through six this year.
The new curriculum will prepare students to become “self-confident, patriotic, devout and aware of the challenges of a changing world,” she said.
All teachers at public schools have now achieved diploma level training, she said.
Some 28,533 students are enrolled in Malé schools while 47,222 are enrolled in the atoll schools. A total of 4,200 Maldivians and 2,200 foreigners are employed as teachers by the government.
Some 60 teachers trained in teaching students with disabilities will join public schools too, the ministry has said.
A school song was meanwhile introduced in the Arabic medium school Arabiyya School for the first time in 25 years.
The ministry has also brought all pre-schools under its remit this year. Some MVR25million was spent on improving facilities at pre-schools, the ministry has said. A sports scholarship for outstanding athletes has also been pledged.
The opposition Maldivian Democratic Party has criticized the government’s education policies, especially the reversal of single session schooling to double sessions in Malé schools this year.
Single session schooling was first introduced during the ousted MDP administration. The current government had cited lack of space and overcrowding in Malé schools for making the change.
The MDP has also criticized the government’s seizure of buildings from privately run Mandhu College last year and accused it of politicising the Maldives National University. The University Act was amended by the ruling Progressive Party of the Maldives controlled parliament last year to grant the president the authority to appoint the university’s board.
While the ministry has claimed all students have been provided with textbooks and that teachers have been employed for all vacancies, some media outlets have denied the claim.
The academic year runs from January 13 to November 17.
The Maldives has achieved near universal primary school enrollment, but the quality of education and the disparities between public schools in Malé and those in the atolls are a major challenge.
The percentage of students who passed in five subjects in their tenth grade exams is improving marginally every year. Only 52 percent of students who sat the tenth grade exams passed five subjects in 2014.
Additional reporting by Shafaa Hameed