Minister of Education Dr Ismail Shafeeu has stated that the administration will ensure there is no detriment to the education of students, and will shorten the duration, when reversing the academic year to commence at the start of the calendar year again.
Historically, the academic year has always aligned with the calendar year in Maldives. However, during the Covid-19 pandemic, the past administration decided to change the commencement of the academic year to August.
Minister Shafeeu stated that that change had been brought about without first conducting sufficient research on the matter. In an exclusive interview with Mihaaru, Shafeeu said that he had gained information that the change had been placed in effect after conducting an opinion poll.
He maintained that an opinion poll is largely different from a scientific research, and that a major decision like changing academic year dates should not have been effected on the results of such a poll alone.
"I can say with one hundred percent guarantee that if President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih had been presented with all these findings and research, he would not have implemented the change," Shafeeu said.
Starting out his tenure as minister, Shafeeu met with principals of Male' area schools this week. He declared at the meeting that the commencement of the academic year will be changed back to January, and that related research will be conducted, identifying challenges.
At the meeting, both the Minister and the principals expressed concerns that the timings of the academic year at present prevented the schools from receiving sufficient budget allocations to bring about necessary repairs and maintenance. It has been learned that schools have not been able to bring about necessary repairs in the past three years due to this reason.
Minister Shafeeu said that the change in academic year timings had caused a loss of MVR 1.7 billion to the State. This constitutes the salaries of teachers, and additional work conducted on infrastructural changes brought into effect when the academic year of 2020 was extended for one and a half years in order to place the change in effect. Shafeeu stated that all such issues will be brought into consideration when placing the reverse change in effect.
"When we bring about the change, we will not extend the academic year by six months. Instead, we will shorten it. By integrating what is possible in the syllabus, and by excluding repetitive content in it, we will ensure that a six month extension is not necessary," the Minister said.
"We will not cause students to lose another six months of their lives on this. When we bring about the change, we will consult persons in the tourism sector now. We will shape this in a way that ensures there is an appropriate holiday period granted in the middle of the year, as was pledged by the President in his campaign".
Shafeeu said that a month's holiday can be included in the academic calendar to coincide with the middle of the calendar year so as to provide convenience to those working in the tourism sector. He said that when the plans are finalized, there might be slight changes to the exact duration of the break.