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Education's role with regard to the economic, social and political changes should, as far as possible, be proactive concentrating on taking policy initiatives rather than merely react to changes and events. Education's role should aim towards purposeful interventions rather than towards passive reaction. A major role that the education system can play in meeting the challenges arising from economic, social and political changes in the Maldives is to expand the school system to ensure high quality in primary and extended primary education, strengthen secondary and post-secondary institutions and to promote study abroad in crucial areas where skill gaps exist, while attempting to establish a mechanism for providing at least first year university level courses in appropriate disciplines and which will be acceptable as credits to degrees with universities / link institutions abroad. Recent efforts to expand the Maldivian school system and promote study abroad are impacting upon the level of educational attainment in the national labour force.

The youth of a nation comprising a large majority will carry on the process of nation building and of shaping the destiny of the Maldivian people. To be prepared for this task it is important that they be educated and trained to the best extent possible, that they have a knowledge of the traditions and culture of Maldives and that they are imbued with a sense of purpose and vision. In a time of increasing exposure to different cultural influences, rapid growth, and the breaking up of the traditional system, attention needs to be paid to ensuring that the youth of the nation are not by-passed, alienated or marginalised. With the number of school leavers increasing and the number of overseas scholarships decreasing there is an urgent need to provide higher education in the country as well as to increase the provision of training at all levels.

The target Maldives has set itself under basic education for all is very clear. Where children of school age are concerned it is the provision of a 7-year basic education for all eligible children by the year 2000. Primary education up to 5 years is nearly universal. Infrastructure facilities are also widely available. Drop-out and repetition rates are not high. However there are wide variations between Male’ and the atolls.

Where youth and adults are concerned, Maldives has the advantage of near universal literacy as of now (1999). With respect to these two groups the concern is with the "expanded vision of basic education" for a highly literate population with more and more of the population acquiring a higher educational level. The Ministry of Education will be only one of the agencies serving these groups. Several other ministries and departments and private agencies will be involved including the media.

Maldives also has an urgent national concern which demands more than "basic education" as a national education target. A special problem Maldives had to face and still faces is the necessity to use foreign workers at many levels but particularly at the professional levels, indicated by the relatively large proportion of expatriate teachers serving in the higher grades of the formal school system. In other sectors also the position is similar. The educational level of the population as a whole has to be raised to a level where Maldives has adequate numbers of trainable persons to meet the development needs of the country. Access to the secondary school has to be increased. But it has also at the same time to be mindful of the problem of educated unemployment. At present secondary places (grades 8 and above) are relatively small in the atolls in spite of the major expansion being in the atolls. It is somewhat adequate in Male’. The inadequacy of secondary places in the atolls, explains, in large measure, the very high repetition rates in grades 6 and 7.

Despite the wide dispersion of the population, Maldives has the advantage of being a very closely-knit nation, all belonging to one religion, Islam and all speaking the same language. It has maintained its distinct identity for centuries.

Many of the changes occurring in the Maldives place an ever-increasing demand on all members of the educational system to be concerned with values education. The nature of discipline within schools and the behaviour and attitudes of students and school leavers in the general society have raised the issue whether the education system is imparting the proper values to the students.

The concern with values education will need to be approached in multiple ways. The curriculum explicitly teaches lessons through stories and examples that are used. Teachers, both in what they say and, perhaps even more, in how they behave, transmit values to their students. Administrators must recognise that values education is an appropriate part of the schools responsibility. The school is never a fully successful substitute for the morals and values the child should learn at home. But in the present circumstances it has an important role to play in ensuring that all students have access to values education that will prepare them to be positive members of the Maldivian society. The same point could be made in relation to prevent education against drug abuse and HIV/AIDS.

4.1 Meeting the Challenges

The following will constitute the basis for meeting the challenges in education in the Maldives.

4.1.1 Improving educational efficiency through quality enhancement.

4.1.2 Improving early childhood care and development

4.1.3 Improving the quality of basic education and the Quality of Teachers.

4.1.4 Enhancing the provision of basic education for youth and adults

4.1.5 Creating an education management information system to inform educational decisions by government, institutions and individuals.

4.1.6 A sustainable life style

References and List of documents consulted

  1. Chaudhury, Rafiqul Huda, Analytical Report on the 1985 and 1990 Population and Housing Census of Maldives. Ministry of Planning, Human Resources and Environment, Republic of Maldives.1996
  2. _________. The Educational and Human Resource Development Plan 1985 – 1995 Ministry of Education
  3. _______. Development of Island Community Schools. Ministry of Education, Republic of Maldives, 1990,
  4. _________. Educational Statistics, Ministry of Education. Republic of Maldives. 1998.
  5. __________. The Edhuruge. Ministry of Education, Republic of the Maldives, 1990.
  6. __________. Report of Raa Atoll Supervision Trip. Internal Ministry of Education document 1998
  7. :_________. Maldives: Third Education and Training Project – Sector and Project Economic Anlaysis. Draft Report. 1999
  8. _________. Third National Development Plan 1991 – 1993 Vol. I Ministry of Planning and Environment Male, Maldives
  9. __________. Fourth National Development Plan 1994 – 1996. . Ministry of Planning, Human Resources and Environment, Republic of Maldives
  10. __________ Fifth National Development Plan 1997 – 1999. . Ministry of Planning, Human Resources and Environment, Republic of Maldives
  11. ___________. Republic of Maldives: Vulnerability & Poverty Assessment.Ministry of Planning, Human Resources and Environment in cooperation with UNDP. Unpublished. Male, Republic of Maldives, 1998.
  12. Toganivalu, Report on the Consultancy in the Early Childhood Care and Education of the Republic of the Maldives. Non-formal Education Centre, Ministry of Education, Male, Republic of the Maldives. 1993.
  13. UNICEF. Maldives Multiple Indicator Survey Report UNICEF, Male, 1996..
  14. Windham, Douglas M. Education Sector Review: Republic of Maldives. 1991, Male’, Maldives.
  15. __________ Republic of Maldives: Post-Secondary Education Study. Volume 1, Final Report (Unpublished), 1997


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