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History of Education in Maldives

Discuss about the Modern Governance Challenges In Education.

The Maldives Island is discrete and accessible in almost 1190 islands. Maldivian islands are divided into 20 atolls and 7 provinces. Maldives is concentrated specifically on tourism, fisheries, manufacturing and other related services which combine as its economic sector.  The system of education in Maldives is presented with the traditional system of the schooling that lasted for several years. However, Maldives have been gradually improving its significant concern in access to the education with confronting various challenges. The present system of education in Maldives is present with the merging of the traditional and western schooling.

This study on educational context of Maldives is developed to address the concern of the quality of the education in the Maldives. It will also help to understand the operating governance plans and policies working for the education system in Maldives. The study also includes the constitutional right for education in brief to gain a discussion of the perspectives along with the legal accountability in education and educational institutions. The report will throw light over the roles of the multiple stakeholders towards the contribution in the field of the education. The report shows the key findings over identifying the challenges that are being faced by the education sector. The involvement of the policy level, community, stakeholders groups and the sharing to influence the policy discussions on improving education in Maldives will also be provided in the report. In the end, the report will also present recommendations identified based on the findings of the entire report.

The population of Republic of Maldives is approximately 250000 and it is distributed among 200 islands and 20% of the population resides at Male, the capital of Maldives. The system of education that is present in Maldives originated from the age old system of schooling and these schooling institutions are widely known as maktub, maadhrasa and edhuruge (Sodiq & Abbott, 2018). In most cases these institutions are either privately owned or operated by the communities of specific islands of the country. It is seen that in Maldives, these school’s contribution to build an effective educational system is significant as in Maldives, a higher literacy rate can be seen with respect to various other countries (Shaw, 2015). It is seen that in recent times however, the government of the country is getting inclined towards merging their own style of education with western system of education in order to develop the nation’s education system. In this regard, it can be said that from the year of 1960, the government of Maldives has been trying to introduce western pattern of education in the land of Maldives. In this regard, it is worthwhile to mention that since the year of 1978, there has been a substantial development in the education system of the nation after making a decision to unify the national education system of the country. When the government of the country took this decision, it was seen that schooling under this new system was structured in 5-2-3-2 cycle; where the first 5 years of academic learning of the students lead to a two years schooling in middle schools. After completing middle school courses, the pupils gets to enter the junior secondary school for three years and after successful completion of those learning the pupils get to attend a two years junior secondary cycle where they have to sit for various important examinations (Shaw, 2015). To discuss the aims and objectives of the educational system that is prevalent in Maldives, it can surely be said that the government of the country aims to promote the self reliance and independence of the individuals and along with that the government needs to promote equity and social justice in the country by providing necessary education to the individuals who hail from various tiers of the society (Sodiq & Abbott, 2018). Not only that, the reason behind making efforts to redesign the educational structure of the country is to strengthen the national consciousness and also in order to preserve the national and cultural heritage of the nation by enabling the future generations to get best education so that they can sustain their heritage of the country (Burns & Köster, 2016). It can be said that in order to be able to provide good education to all the citizens of the country, the government of Maldives should incessantly indulge in expanding the intellectual capacity along with that, the government aims to help the citizens to adapt to using latest technologies (Siddique, Shehzadi & Shaheen, 2016). It can be said that the Government of Maldives wants to redesign the educational structure of the country in order to be able to appreciate and understanding of the changes that is taking place in the economic and social life of the country. It is a matter of fact that the national curriculum of the educational sector is immensely dependent on the basic principles of Islamic framework and those principles are derived from various phases of democracy, nationalism, equity, innovation for development and uniting the communities of the country (Theisens, 2016). It is seen that based on these principles, national Education of Council produced some national objectives for the education sector of the nation. The education development center played an integral role for translating the national objectives into the educational curriculum after necessary consultations (Shaw, 2015). 

Current Education System in Maldives

The government in the Maldives is adhered to provide the education system  with the objectives to  achieve high rate of literacy and preservation of national culture and tradition. Maldives constitutes formal education from the age of 3 and primary schooling from the age of 6. The Maldivian constitution allow access of primary and secondary education to all the children (Gupta, 2017). The Maldives constitute of the literacy rate of 98.61% as of in 2014.

The Republic of Maldives is an archipelago of overall 1190 coral islands. It is located in the south west of the Indian sub-continent.  There are mostly three languages preferred in education English and Arabic .In Maldives, all the functions and the governing authority in charge for qualification is the Maldives Qualification Authority (MQA). It ensures that the students, employers, education providers and the community understand the learning outcome that is involved in the various qualifications. The ministry of education had introduced the first five year curriculum that basically covers the primary and middle school cyc.les in around all the subjects. In 2013, the first phase of curriculum was implemented by The Educational Development Centre. The school curriculum was initiated to focus on the special needs related to learners in accordance with the contemporary social, economic and political issues. The national school curriculum discussed with the relations of the students or the disabilities or in any special case that would require preference. The government had focused on the school curriculum to support he children of Maldives who are disable in any order. Hence, it could also be indentified that adhere were no such mechanisms were introduced to recognize the needs of the students with disabilities in terms of the resources (Yamada, Fujikawa & Pangeni, 2015).

The government is also focusing on to the programs that provide the teachers with the trainings in the working and handling the special or disabled children. Simple existence of the school boards does not include the advantage of the school-based governance and local community development.

The national development goals are reviewed with the goals of education  where it primarily develops the individuals to make them capable of useful occupational skills and knowledge . It follows an ambition of promoting social justice and equity in the universal primary education and equal educational opportunity for all in Maldives. The aim is also to provide the facility to all the citizens such that they become self learners and enhance their ability to cope with their technical and new technology skills (Adam & Wright, 2014).

Objectives of Education System in Maldives

In the Maldives, UNICEF is currently supporting a drive that will introduce CFBS (Child Friendly Baraabaru Schools) where the school quality assurance system will dive in the self assessment and external validation of school’s assessment. It also opened up the opportunities to learn the foreign languages in addition to English. The development plan and policy was also established with the objective to facilitate the rural, urban and the remote areas including the scattered islands (Rasheed, 2015).

Over the years the government has been putting effort to develop the country’s education by increasing the availing number of qualifications in the public. Government is increasing its partnership with the private sectors to involve their contribution in the enhancement of education system. Qualifications are being authorized by the individual educational institutions as well international qualifications are also introduced in the Maldives by the government.

The governance in Maldives also includes the remarkable development in education with the introduction of Information communication technology (ICT).  This is mainly focus on the development of the small island states that are scattered uneven in over various remote islands with small populations (Ali & Male, 2016).  Information and communication technology is an important tool that provides higher education to the islanders. it focuses on the higher education in teaching and learning of the small islands development states (Di Biase, 2018). This factor was significantly adopted by the national and the institutional level of the government to focus on the development of each of the backward groups. It increased the responsibility of the governance engagement as well the economy of the country to facilitate with the education services and reasonable services in the urban as well as in the remote areas.

This all factors constituting created a higher demand on the education institutes in terms of the administrative and technical operational difficulties as well in the path of educational growth in the Maldives.

The Constitution of Maldives which was adopted in 2008 enforces education as one of the rights of all citizens including children. Article 29 of the constitution mentions that every citizen of Maldives have the right to achieve and profess knowledge and learning. The citizens of Maldives have to right to form associations to spread education. One must note that the main religion in Maldives is Islam and Quran recitations form a part of the basic education in the country children receive. However, the constitution of the country provides equal rights to all the people in Maldives to receive education without nay discrimination (Waddington & Toepke, 2014).

Stakeholders Involved and Challenges Faced

The constitution right to education which is rendered by Article 29is strengthened by Article 36(a). The article clearly mentions that education is a fundamental right which every citizen of Maldives is entitled without discrimination. Section 36(b) provides that primary and secondary education should be provided by the Government of Maldives. The article in fact place ethical responsibility on the parents and nation to educate children. As far as higher education in Maldives is concerned, citizens have general access to it (Ahmed, 2016).

The Constitution of Maldives aligns its provision of right to education with its state religion, Islam. Section 36 (c) of the constitutions mentions that the education system in Maldives aims to install love for Islam, promote human rights and fraternity among all people (Bajaj& Kidwai, 2016).

Article 39(b) mentions that the Government of Maldives has the right to promote education and literature within the boundaries. One must point out that according to the educational rights imparted by Maldivian Constitution, the Government of Maldives is the apex body as far as education is concerned. The constitution further states that the state is the central implementer and enforcing authority in the educational sector in Maldives. The state would provide the basic infrastructure for imparting education. The constitution also provides the state the power to enact new educational laws and policies or amend the existing laws (,. 2018).

One can point out upon analysis of the constitutional right to education in Maldives that is largely under state control. The primary educational institutions are too largely run under the state supervision. The economy of Maldives is less open compared to most other open economies which has a strong impact on the education sector in spite of the right to education guaranteed by the constitution. The country is economically poor and dependent on assistance from the Asian Development Bank to support its educational programmes.

The noteworthy aspect as far as educational rights guaranteed by the constitution of Maldives is concerned is, use of information and communication technology in the sector. The National Development Programmes held by the government stress on use of online teaching methods. This online teaching system of education is appropriate for Maldives because the country consist of islands. Online teaching methods allow teachers and students to communicate on the digital platforms which enables imparting of education. Thus, to summarise one can infer that the Constitution of Maldives guarantees free education to all but the education system in the country is underdeveloped. The government should stress on modernisation of the education imparting methods by increasing more rampant use of ICT and development of private sector investment at all levels.


The above discussion clearly calls for increased legal accountability in the educational sector in Maldives to impart quality education. The state of Maldives provides education at primary level, secondary level, higher secondary level and at college level. This situation requires the educational institutions in Maldives imparting education be legally responsible while educating their students. They should impart education according the laws and policies written in the Constuitution of Maldives. It must be noted that imparting education without any distinction is one of the fundamental rights guaranteed by the constitution under Article 29. The educational institutes as per this national strategy form their operational policies. They must outline the key performances indicators and gain the approval of the government on the same(, 2018).

The next legal accountability which educational institutes should follow is that they should be transparent on the important aspects like funding. The educational programmes are funded by the government and these institutes must be transparent about the performances and present resources while applying for government aids. .

The management bodies of the educational institutes should comply and cooperate with the government policies of audit. They should undergo financial audits either by a national audit officer or by an external professional auditing body.

The educational institutes of Maldives by law should practice high standard of human resource management to ensure international standard of education. These bodies should participate in programmes like student exchange programmes and acquiring teachers from other countries. The aim of this ethical and legal duty is to bring about innovation within the education sector in the country make it capable of providing superior education to students (, 2018).

The next legal accountability of the educational institutions in Maldives draws strength from the Gender Equality Act number 18/2016.  The act obliges all the personnel involved in the educational institutes to ensure equality in treatment of all staffs and students. The act also enforces providing equal opportunities to men and women in gaining and imparting education. The act also mentions that students and the staffs should entitled to take part in researches, innovations and related activities. The act further enforces that the educational institutes should incorporate gender equality for both teaching and non-teaching staffs in the training programmes. The act condemns all forms of discriminatory and illegal acts like social abuse and violence. It also provides for legal actions to deal with such cases. However, in spite of the legal compulsions, there have been reports of abuse female employees and students in the education sector in Maldives. The religious groups, the government bodies and the society should collaborate to make the educational industry in Maldives more accountable and responsible towards the Maldivian laws. The state should promote workplace equality and its importance in the educational institutes in Maldives (, 2018).


It is seen that the role of the stakeholders ensuring the quality of the education system of the country is significant (Sodiq & Abbott, 2018). The major stakeholders of the education system of the nation are the teachers of colleges, schools and universities; students, association of the parents and teachers, numerous educationalists of the country, officials of education ministry, non teaching staffs of schools, colleges and universities and state and private sector individuals related to the education system of the nation (Burns & Köster, 2016). It is seen that in the past twenty years, there has been significant improvement in the education sector of Maldives and it should be mentioned that that behind this gradual improvement in the education system of the country the role of the stakeholders is significant. The major stakeholders of the education system are the teachers, students and the policy makers (Siddique, Shehzadi & Shaheen, 2016). It can be said that, the policy making are important for ensuring gradual improvement and development in the educational sector of Maldives. It is seen that policy making and implementing those policies are the root cause behind the success of the educational system of the country and it can surely be said that the aim of the government of the nation, and aim of the policymakers are rightly aligned for ensuring the best interests of the education system of the country (Theisens, 2016). It is seen that successful policy making is the key for ensuring a developing learning system that will help the future generations of the country to gain advantage in today’s world and  it would facilitate the future generations of the country to adapt to the latest technologies and new thought processes relevant to the modern times. Thus, it can be said that the importance of the stakeholders in ensuring a developing and compact education system in Maldives is undeniable (Siddique, Shehzadi & Shaheen, 2016).

The governance in the educational field mainly focuses on the improvement of the educational level in Maldives. It is noticeable that Maldives is the Island area that mostly surrounded by remote islands. Improvements in the educational process are much necessary for the country to participate in the global business scenario. The previous study has generated the insightful ideas about the educational governance applied to the educational sector in Maldives. Despite imposing the considerable benefits to improve the educational purposes, it has been observed that the education industry faces the considerable challenges as well. The challenges are discussed further:

  • Geographical Isolations

Maldives is an island nation that includes a total of 1190 island (, 2018). The governance in the educational field ensured the improvement of the education in the universities (Burns & Köster, 2016). Therefore, people residing in the remote areas face recognizable difficulties in travelling to these universities. The geographical isolation is thus quite much troublesome for the people in remote areas

  • Lack of properly trained teachers

It has been observed that the educational governance in Maldives indicates the facilities for the teachers in the schools and universities (Adam, 2016). However, the lack of proper training became much hazardous for the teachers. Due to such insufficiency in knowledge of using technologies, the teachers face challenges in improving the quality of the education. The statistics shows that almost 1,605 teachers out of 6,407 teachers are untrained (, 2018). The competition level is growing higher due to the advancements brought to the educational field. The ministry of education is concentrating on building up such technological infrastructure that can benefit to the quality improvement in the educational field. However, the education governance has not yet concentrated on developing the training programs for the teachers in terms of using these latest classroom technologies (Theisens, 2016). Lack of sufficient teachers’ skills is thus considered as one of the major challenges in this context.

  • Use of the information technology

The educational governance recognizes the importance of the online education for the students living in the remote areas. The development of the Information Communicational Tool (ICT) is much relevant in accessing the education for the people in remote areas. The availability of the internet and technology could ensure success in implementing these ICT tools (Cordingley, 2016). Maldives is yet to develop the better internet and technological aspects in terms of utilizing these tools in the educational process. Despite the numerous initiatives undertaken by the Ministry of Education, it has been observed that the nation is yet to implement a national policy on ICT in schools. The most efficient use of the tools has not yet been addressed due to which the challenges still persist.

  • Lack of Technological infrastructure in schools

The ministry of education is paying attention towards developing the better approaches in developing ICT tools and other technological infrastructures for improving the education. However, the initiatives are yet to be implemented in the high schools of Maldives. It has been recognised that technology is a crucial part of the ICT policy. Therefore, it is essential to address the broader area of concerns including hardware, software, and other broadcast media like television and area (Sodiq & Abbott, 2018). In addition to this, the broadband internet is essential for the educational institutions to develop more advanced method of education. The ministry requires concentrating on the more advanced infrastructure to develop the better educational quality.

  • Professional Development of the teachers

ICT policy implementation is one of the most considerable areas for the Ministry of Education in terms of developing the high quality education. The teachers associated with such educational process also require developing the concerns and knowledge regarding the use of the ICT tools. Once the knowledge is being developed, the people from the remote areas in Maldives would receive the better education (Burns & Köster, 2016). However, it has been observed that the teachers require the appropriate professional development program, which could generate the enriched knowledge in terms of using ICT technologies. The teachers faced challenges since there is no such initiatives are undertaken in developing their efficiency in use of the ICT tools. Hence, the lack of sufficient professional development plan is quite challenging for the associated teachers.

The above challenges in the education governance indicate that the Ministry of Education needs to make some modifications in their policies. These initiatives are needed to be rectified in order to address and mitigate these challenges. The further section of the study would provide the suitable recommendations in order to develop the better approaches in the educational field.

The study provides the insights regarding the educational governance developed in educational field in Maldives. The study indicates the initiatives undertaken by the Ministry of Education and addresses the underlying challenges as well. Considering these specific challenges, some of the preferable recommendations are stated below:

  • Development of the Training and Development Programs for the Teachers

The teachers play the most important role to develop the high quality educational process. It has been recognised that the implementation of the ICT policy require adequate knowledge. The Ministry needs to pay attention towards the training and development session for the teachers associated with the classroom as well as the online learning. These training and development sessions would be much helpful for them to gather the ideas about the appropriate use of the technological tools. It would be helpful enough in developing the quality of education. Moreover, the future developments would also be concerned.

  • Investment in technological infrastructure

The improvement in the technological tools requires adequate capital resources that can be invested. While undertaking the initiatives of technological policy implementation in the educational field, the ministry needs to re-structure the capital investment structure and make the hands-on approaches in such context. The considerable amount of the capital resource would help in building the necessary technological infrastructure to determine the high quality of education.


The study identifies the educational governance in Maldives. It has been observed that Ministry of Education in Maldives has been paying attention to improve the education quality in Maldives by improving the technological tools, such as ICT. In spite of the advantageous approaches associated with the ICT implementation, it has been observed that the lack of adequate knowledge and infrastructure made these initiatives much limited. The teachers require adequate training in order to develop the considerable approach in this area of concerns. Mitigating the identified challenges would help in improving the education quality in Maldives.


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Buono, A. F., Haertle, J., & Kurz, R. (2015). UN-supported principles for responsible management education (PRME): Global context, regional implementation, and the role of signatories. In The UN Global Compact: Fair Competition and Environmental and Labour Justice in International Markets(pp. 1-15). Emerald Group Publishing Limited.

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Waddington, L., & Toepke, C. (2014). Moving Towards Inclusive Education as a Human Right: An Analysis of International Legal Obligations to Implement Inclusive Education in Law and Policy.

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