With the news of the idea of government to make study of Dhivehi language and Islamic studies as optional in A Level, many started asking questions about this. A lot of people questioned the aim of the sudden change in policy and more importantly the outcomes that could arise. Today, there are argument that are in favour and otherwise to this new development. The opposition, of course rejected this idea all at once. Let me share my thinking on this.
Well, before this, let me tell you the Maldivian National Philosophy of Education.
"EACH CHILD WHO COMPLETES FORMAL SCHOOLING SHALL POSSESS THE PHYSICAL, INTELLECTUAL, AND PSYCHOLOGICAL SKILLS NEEDED FOR HIS/HER WELL BEING IN THE MUSLIM, MALDIVIAN SOCIETY AND SHALL POSSESS THE SKILLS TO FUNCTION AS A CONTRIBUTING MEMBER OF HIS/HER FAMILY, COMMUNITY AND COUNTRY. "
It is in accordance with this philosophy that the curriculum, subjects contents and all should go. In simple terms this is cast that is made to be used in shaping the children of Maldives. This is the case with every country and the philosophy of education of every country is different.
Now the question is about making Dhivehi and Islam optional in Advanced Level. (grade 11 and 12)
Advanced Level is the higher secondary level. This is the level at which students decide not on their identity but on their carrier. By this time if the education system fails to give the identity they should be given, its not their fault for them to be forced to study two subjects for 2 more years. Let the students concentrate on their carrier path and build the identity well in advance.
The fact is it is few students among the O level students who join A level. Majority leaves the education from O level. If then, why push the A Levels? Make the necessary changes to curriculum, books, teaching methodologies of O Level and give them the identity. Say 8000 students do O level and 2000 do A level, and what sense does it make to try to give religious and mother tongue knowledge to the 2000? Reality is that we try to teach everything about Islam in Islam period and everything about Nation and language in Dhivehi period, thus we end up been unable to teach anything well.
Moreover, today SSC and HSC both are certified at the same level though for the name sake it one is higher. When it comes to public, the reason why people say it should be compulsory is that O level is not enough. If then it should be O level syllabus that needs to be corrected.
Language and Islam are very fundamental subjects that every single Maldivian should study. It is mainly these two subjects that brings the identity to the students. The identity that they are Maldivians and that they are Muslims and they they have to act accordingly. Today one reason we see our new generations very strange to Maldivian and religious ways and things is because we fail to bring that identity to students. It is due to that reason we see that today's youth loves and copy the way and style of others and try to imitate them rather than having a lifestyle that fits to the norms and customs of our own country.
Moreover, today, as we look at the countries which have successful stories in making good generation of citizens and progress in development, we see that these two pillars of religion and mother tongue are given a very high priority. The best and most well known example is Malaysia where they make sure they students learn mother tongue and religion even at university level. This is the case with most of the Arab countries too. And this has proved very successful.
One fact that we need to accept is that enough of religious and mother tongue knowledge is not delivered when a student finished Ordinary Level studies. In this case it will not be wise to make the two subjects optional when it has been done and proved working ever since started.
Looking at public, most of them do not want this happen. At least one experienced person who worked in education sector and now in political arena told me that he is aware of many school heads and other who rejects this idea. Surely there are many who don't like the idea. Maybe in democracy it has to be considered too.
What I think.
I switch to the optional will be fine when there is the environment for that. Just like what happened when people got freedom of speech all of a sudden without them knowing its power and influence, the options if given could be very much misused. As hurry makes curry we at least need to stop a while and get equipped by making necessary changes to our SSC and then bring the change if at all it is important. For me, for now, I say NO. Keep it compulsory.