22 November 2011

Catchment area: Catching the Addu City

Two years back, I told you that there is a grave mistake in our education system which needs to be fixed. Now that story is gone.

A new era, a new situation and a new case is now on the table. Now the big talk is the catchment area talk.

This is a new policy implemented by the education ministry in Addu City under which, the students were entitled to enter the secondary schools of the geographical area they belong to. Under this system, Hithadhoo students will be divided between Hithadhoo School and Muhibbuddin School. In the other wards of city, the students should join the schools in that particular area. Sounds very fair. Yet problem arises when many students or more specifically their parents wants the kids to join Muhibbuddin School. So the catchment area has become a big issue. Here are some arguments on both sides.

Some arguments for Catchment area policy:

-The government of Maldives wants the education system to be in a way that from grade 1 to 10, the students should be able to study in a single school.
-Government has already established secondary schools in Addu enough that they could accommodate students under this policy.
- Given the present situation, the secondary schools in Addu can not be established if students are given option of the schools they wish to go.
-No school or no student could be given a special priority, and thus the entrance criteria to all schools should be same.

Some arguments against Catchment area policy:

- I will know where my kid should study!! Ministry simply can not decide the future of my kid!!
- New Schools are new to secondary education: my kids can not be sent there for "test driving". In other words parents do not have faith in the new policy or new secondary schools.
- Muhibbuddin has established resources. The already existing secondary schools in Addu city still lacks many resources.
- No other secondary school in Addu so far proved a success. There are many schools in Addu city where they have been teaching for secondary level, yet so far not much a success was seen.

Now the questions is, is the catchment area right or wrong? Well. excuse me. I am not the right person to say it. I was a teacher in Muhibbuddin School and also a teacher in Hithadhoo School (a newly established secondary school).  So I'd rather not enter into that argument and just present what I see here and what I wish to see.

Facts that I could see around:

-Muhibbuddin has almost 2 decades of preparing students for O Level. It sure will be an under estimate to say the newly established schools could be better or even equal to Muhibbuddin School.
-New secondary school policy under which student study from grade 1 to 10 is good and has to be established at any cost. (I am not saying at the cost of the student's future)
 -The teachers in the new secondary schools are qualified and perfect for the job just like in  Muhibbuddin School.
-If the new secondary schools are left to stand on their own, and students are given the chance to join any school, the already established secondary schools too will be abolished.
-The resources in new secondary schools are not as week as some think. There is pretty good resource for a secondary set up, though there is a lot more that could be done.

My belief.
I am not saying miracles do happen in this 21st century. Yet, I believe, we need to do what has to be done for the betterment of all the students.

The first thing we need to do is to stop the unhealthy competition in Addu schools and move on in a way that we'd compete as a city, and not as individual schools. This will  be good for both schools and students. The worse case that the secondary education in Maldives has faced is the famous Top 10. I am not saying it is bad to mark the success of the students, yet, it is leading to the sacrifice of too many. Throughout the nation, the schools are not allowing the low performing students to sit the CIE in the name of school, but rather asking them to join as private candidates, so that they get more points for "best schools award". With the introduction on technical science in schools, this has become ever easy. Don't expect even  Muhibbuddin School to be a darling when it comes to it!!!

Second thing we need to do is to implement the catchment area. Yet that is not enough. We must come up with a mechanism under which, all  the secondary schools in Addu city can learn from the lesson of Muhibbuddin over the past 2 decades. Let me tell exactly what I feel. We all are preparing the students for CIE. We all want our students to get good results. We all wish our performance to improve day by day. If then, let us break the invisible, yet strong walls between schools. We need to accept the fact of Muhibbuddin's success rather than trying to bring a school in Addu down to knees. What I really wish to see is a day when the same scheme of work is used in all secondary schools of Addu city,and at least once a month, all the subject teachers in Addu city get together and do a mass coordination for the whole month.

At last, the left outs. A lot of students are going out of our education system as failures. If you could believe me, with this present unhealthy competition in Addu city schools, the  number is going to be increasing steadily. The technical science is a good concept. Yet, no school in Addu city, is equipped with any sufficient resource to cater the low ability students. As a last thing, let me ask you. Just like you think of top ten, will you not give a thought to the kids of this city who are sacrificed in the process yet ignored by all. Will you only bother the catchment area?

18 November 2011

Home! Hassan's Sweet Home

Its the dream of everyone to live in a beautiful home with best possible furniture and utensils. Yet not everyone have it, nor could all  afford it.

Yet, that is not the end of the world! Let me share with you something that caught my eye. Its not a very new story. It has been there for a long while, yet I guess many just didn't bother to look at.

Everyday, many many people, go cross Medheaari maga from Ghaazee maga to visit the convention center and its beauty. Why dont you take a right turn this time rather than going a head.  What do you see?? Well. you'd see a hut!! A small house. Or most easily I could say a "kolhonege" by some kids.
 NO! NO! NO!. Thats a house. A real house!!!

It is Hassan Didi's house according to him.
I had a talk about the house and he was nice enough to show me the house and explain about it too.

The hut we see everyday.

He says this plot of land belongs to a brother (some relative I heard, though not an own brother). Brother lives in Male' and plans to give the plot to him. According to him, some people even tried to "take" land. He showed me the foundation that he claims they laid. "Maybe someone with a good post may ask them to do it" He was very careful with his wordings too. It maybe only 8ft to 10ft, yet its his sweet house, though he does not live in there.

Near the fence you could see the foundation.

This is not a normal house. Though built with sticks and some wood, its has a grownd floor and a first floor too.

Hassan Didi's house. Front view
Not only that. He has a garden too. I heard he is very good in gardening. There is a water apple(jamburoazu) tree that looks like planted recently. There are flowering plants as well.

Garden area. There are flowering plants too.
If there is a first floor, there shoud be a way to reach too. Yes, it is made of wood. And just like everything else in this house, Hassan Didi made it on his own.

The stairs 

Just like any house, this house has a door. And there is no lock for the door, just the traditional type of rope that could be tied was there.
The door could be tied rather than using the expensive lock!!

Some beautiful flowers adds to the beauty of this small house.

flowers right in front of the house
There is a well too. Yes, "it doesnt have to look the same as the well in your house. Not every finger is equal". He justified.
The well in of Hassan Didi's house
There is a balcony too. Some days back there were flower pots hanging from balcony. But now it is not there. With a smile Hassan Didi said. "Maybe some boys didn't like it to be there.So they must have thrown off"


One thing I noticed was that the work done was nice. There were windows too.

Nicely done work

This is the best thing I found in the house. The banana tree, just like the house was small, with just a 2ft or more, there was a bunch of banana too. Yes, even the banana was small.

The banana tree and banana in the backward. 

I liked the way the house was kept, the idea and the way he justified what he did. I asked him.
Is this a "Juhaa mohora" so that the government can not take back the land that you got?

(Juhaa mohora- a local joke where Juha sells his house with exception of a nail in one wall inside the house which he used to hang rotten food, so as to indirectly send them off)

He was not ready confess.  :) With a smile that looks like meaningful, he said, "See how big your house is. Its because your dad was able to do that much. See how small this house is. That is because this is the level I could reach to." I was speechless. I just could not believe how he persuaded me. Curious, I asked secretly. Were you able to register the land? He finished off his conversation with a nice smile by giving me the answer. "My dear boy, the constitution does not force to have a particular standard of house. This is my house, and yes the land is registered"

 So here is Hassan Didi's house. His sweet little house. 

Hassan Didi's sweet home.

Hope you enjoyed.

12 November 2011

SAARC in Addu City- My report

Today we are happy that Addu city was able to hold the 17th SAARC summit.

Everyone is celebrating its success and what the great work we did. So I'd rater speak of what we could not do.

Seventeenth SAARC summit was held in Equatorial Convention Center.

"A wonder brought up in 6 months from a marsh land" they say. The landscaping done by MNDF and police was just marvelous. Thank you MNDF and MPS. But, we say this is a nation. A nation with law and order. As far as my knowledge, such a huge change in a big ecology in Maldives requires Environmental Impact Assessment. (the well known EIA). I saw on TV president answering the reporter regarding the issue saying that a harm will not be done knowingly for sure. Yes Sir! Your right, they will not bring a harm knowingly, yet an unknown harm too is a harm. Where was the city council? Silent? Where was the environment ministry? At Male'? I don't know. All I know is it all happened "above the law"

Inside the convention center, I was able to enter as a media person. I was informed of around 118 expected media persons, yet saw not more than 3 computers and 5-10 internet ports. Excuse me if it was more. As for the security, mobile phones were not allowed into the ECC on 10th and 11th. But while I saw a media person using the phone he was "informed" it was strictly not allowed. Good security indeed. I saw 2 others using the phone too when the heads of states were inside the "Bodu kiba". When I asked if international media was given special priority, the answer I got was wonderful. "Even they are not allowed to bring phones. But it happened"

Thew names given to various rooms of the ECC...Well its good to give a name of each atoll to a room. But then let us not forget that this is a building in Addu City and Addu too has a history. I cant understand why names of the important people from Addu were not in there. And only few people from this 30,000 population were invited, even when there were no less than a 100 chairs vacant on the opening ceremony too.
Please don't tell anyone this secret. None of the city council members were to be seen when president Nasheed declared open the Equatorial Convention Center!!! ;)

Road construction was an important task that was to be done. As a person belonging to Addu city, it bothers me least if a country leader pass the car when compared to the quality and durability of the road. It is now very clear that the road construction did not go as planned.. Yesterday SAARC Summit was concluded. Even now, surely more than 70% of the pavement is yet to be paved. I heard so many times Southern Utilities promising that "the job will be done." Well. SUL, it was not done, and is still not done!

The monument became a huge issue after a monument from Pakistan was attacked by 2 people from Addu. Now who failed here? I heard our Mayor telling that nothing that goes against the faith of people will be fixed as a monument. Well sir! Islamic minister says that monument does not fit to our values and limits of constitution. Who is confusing us? You or the minister? A dhoni was supposed to be kept as a monument in the junction of Ghaazee maga and Medhe aari maga. Hello Addu City Council...SAARC summit is over! Leaders did pass that "empty" area. Where are you?

The quality of the work, I don't think anyone has to answer. Just this incidence speaks out. I asked an engineer who was having a close eye on the projects. "Just go and see the many very different sizes of gravel they used. How the thickness of the layers differ from place to place, the surface of the road. Then anyone will know that this is just a show off" He said. and added one more from his experience. "If link road lasts for 10 years, just pray to God, this bodu magu lasts for 5"

Many blamed Hithadhoo people did not give cooperation compared to other islands. Let me be very frank on this. In other islands (ooops, sorry wards of the city) the ward leaders, the constituency councilors were the first to do the work before asking people to do it. This encouraged the people. What did we see in Hithadhoo. I'd share two experiences I had. The "city cleaning day" was celebrated. All schools, offices and public were to participate. I wanted to see what our councilors were upto. In a short while I found at least one of them on his car and the other wearing tie. Excuse me! This is democracy according to you. If then, don't expect people to to something that you are not ready to do.
Second situation was the day Hithadhoo main road and city square was cleaned. Well, I may become the bad boy for speaking this out, but when president Nasheed was out in city square with cleaning work, our respected councilors were not there. Well, some may say they were on the main road doing the work, I bet not until 9:30. :P

I think the list could go on. Now I have a simple question. City square, ECC, monuments, main roads, harbours, banquet hall were the projects of government. What did the city council that we voted do for the SAARC summit? Did you really do enough.?