Our education; what went wrong?
Back in those days, it wasn’t really necessary to be educated. At a very young age all the children would go to a see ‘edhuru be’ (teacher) to learn to recite the holy Quran, with their ‘voshi filaa’(piece of wood where they wrote and studied). And this was just enough.
Back then, it was alright even if you cannot count or read a letter that was addressed to you. However times have changed.
“Changed”; very much indeed.
But what we question ourselves today is whether this change had taken a step forward or taken couple of huge milestones backward.
There was a time when girls were not allowed to go to schools and they remained home taking care of the house chores while the boys only attended school. But today, girls are blessed with the opportunity to have a proper education with the privilege of actually going to schools and being accessible to educational facilities.
Remembering the time when black and white turned to multicolor, the very few schools those days have increased in the past years. Not just in Male’ (the capital) but to other islands as well.
The education system was divided into 3 main categories of ‘pre-school education’ (kindergarten), ‘primary education’ (elementary) and ‘secondary education’ (middle/high school) and was this was then only well established in the capital only. The other islands, hardly had a single school and very few education centres. In addition to the few schools in the islands, their educational system was moderated in ‘Dhivehi’ (the local Maldivian language) until recently all schools changed to English medium of education.
A teacher training facility was established and many Maldivians took the opportunity to go through teacher trainings and have begun to pursue their careers as teachers and today, even as lecturers.
In Male’, the schools set for secondary education had various subjects offered and the students had the option to choose what they wanted to study. However the schools in the islands were still unable to do the same. They did not have the resources to set a science laboratory or funds to accommodate enough teachers for those subjects. There was a big difference between the educational system in the capital and other islands. The competition to accommodate to better education increased, and more people migrated for the purpose of this ‘better’ system of education. Which effectively also lead to the concentrated population in the capital.
This was a concerning issue for the policy makers in the educational field and the policy planners and thus is today. The schools in islands needed to have the same level of educational expertise as the Male’ did. However, till today the schools in the capital have been given more priority over the schools in those islands.
We then emerged to the time when it was proposed that books and educational items were issued free to all students and that students had no longer to pay for the exams, which indeed was a light of hope to the unfortunate who could not afford to pay the examination fees.
Despite the partially balanced educational system, the students in the islands were still left with hardly a choice of what they wanted to study and few lucky students whose families migrated to the capital or students who got the opportunity to stay in the capital were studying what they wanted whereas with the most qualified and dignified teachers.
With the introduction of International schools, there was a choice for anyone to transfer. Well, once again, the ones living at the capital were more likely to have been gotten the opportunity to do so.
An year later, at a point where the issue of unbalance nature of educational system within the islands had not been completely stabilized, the discussion of new educational system had begun.
It was proposed that the all schools would comprise of all the levels of education and also there would be no separate gender-based schools.
Today, even with the number of trained teachers, the schools have started to face the lack of teachers with the demand to teach every level (all the grades). Some schools don’t offer those varieties of optional subjects anymore due to few students in each level.
‘Dhivehi sarukaaruge gazette’ (The government newsletter) have published on separate volumes with announcements for available positions for teachers.
Moreover, the fact that all the students of different age are attending at the same session and that too the gender being mixed has brought out some negative impacts on their behavior of the students.
What now we see is that some parents have made the decision to home school their children instead of taking them to school.
The biggest question now is, are we heading backwards? The concerning issue is that we might slowly be heading backwards and without knowledge the generations to come may have to start over.
At this point before we point fingers or look around our shoulder for someone to blame, we need to rethink what exactly went wrong. We need to take a moment to follow those footprints that took an alternative path and to discover what went wrong.
This is the time to make it right.