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At a Glance: Education in the Maldives

At a Glance: Education in the Maldives

  • 100% enrolment ratio in primary education  
  • 99% of pupils starting grade 1 reach grade 5
  • 65% enrolment ratio in lower secondary education
  • 7% enrolment ratio in higher secondary education
  • 92  boys for every 100 girls in primary education
  • 112 boys for every 100 girls in secondary education

Situation of Education in the Maldives
Roughly 35% of the Maldives is under 18 years old, making education a key area for social investment in the national future. Since the Maldives unified its education system in 1978, it has gone from 70% literacy, with women more likely to be illiterate than men, to universal primary education and a 98% literacy rate. Real challenges remain, however. The country is dependent on expatriate teachers, and the quality of education is uneven for the 70% that live on islands far from the capital, where two-thirds of teachers remain untrained; libraries and separate toilets for girls are unavailable; and children with special needs have little access to school. While there is no significant gender disparity in pre and primary school education, which is available on all islands, inequality emerges at the secondary school level, where travel is required to other islands and the exchange of room and board for domestic labour makes families reluctant to send daughters away for education. Curriculum materials and textbooks show gender bias, educators often have no training in gender sensitivity, and most teaching is still based on old-style rote memorization.

UNICEF's Response
To address these challenges, UNICEF and the Ministry of Education have created national tsunami recovery programs that aim to build a development bridge into the future, raising educational standards throughout the country, integrating distant and isolated island schools, and leveling national inequalities through:

  • 20 Teacher Resource Centres (TRCs), using broadband internet and a specially-developed website with teaching and learning tools to integrate island teachers into national and global learning communities that develop and share best practices
  • Child-friendly schools that encourage participatory, creative, flexible and proactive learning
  • Programmes that make active involvement of caregivers in their children's education the norm
  • Revision of curricula to make them relevant to national development priorities
  • A  sustainable, collaborative, and continuous review and knowledge sharing system at the national and atoll levels

The Future of Education
The 20 atoll-based TRCs are designed to be a path-breaking system for low cost/high output information sharing, new knowledge creation, and peer to peer training. They aim to provide the infrastructure to ensure that child-friendly learning continues to gain momentum, by providing a self-sustaining and participatory network that brings educational collaboration and capacity building into the distant capillaries of a unified, but highly dispersed educational system.

Child-friendly teaching methods have been so successful in the Maldives that many communities have joined voluntarily. The government has also committed to developing its own programme to expand participatory learning into secondary schools in the coming years, so that the pre- and primary-schoolers of today can continue to be fully involved in their own educations far into the future.

Our Partners in Education
The Ministry of Education, Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteers (JOCV), Australian Volunteers International, and Voluntary Services Overseas (VSO)

Resources for Education
To carry out planned Education activities throughout 2008-2010, UNICEF requires US$820,000 (pending UNICEF Exec. Board approval).

Key Achievements since December 2004

  • All students in the Maldives back in school within a month of the tsunami
  • 25 schools rebuilt, 143 pre and primary schools made child-friendly
  • 2,622 children in IDP camps and tsunami affected schools received school supplies
  • 400 plus educators and 350 mothers and fathers trained in child-friendly education
  • Mapping of special education needs for children 3-5 years old commenced
  • 2  of 20 TRCs established to date, for online and other training and information exchange









For every child
Health, Education, Equality, Protection