بســم اللّـه الرّحمـن الرّحيــم
اَلحَمْـدُ لِلّـهِ رَبّ العَـالَمِـين‘ وَالصّـلاة وَالسّلام علـى محـمَّدٍ‘ وعلى آلـه وصحبـه أجمعـين.
Majeediyya School Principal Abdulla Ismail, and Teachers;
First of all I would like to thank you for calling me this morning and inviting me to be with you this evening. I haven’t been to this school for too long. So for me, it’s a real pleasure for me to be here tonight. I am extremely happy that you invited me. You know why. Because I began my education here in the first grade, when English medium education was first introduced in the Maldives. I graduated from here and then I was a school teacher here. I taught in grade seven and eight English language. After that I was also asked to be acting principal here for a short time while I was working in the Ministry of Education. So for me it’s really quite emotional to visit this school, this evening.
But first of all, let me thank you all for being teachers. Thank you for the hard work that you all do. I fully appreciate the contribution that you make and the difficulties that you go through on a daily basis. Because I’ve been there, I’ve been a teacher like you. And the difficulties and the problems that has been outlined tonight particularly by Ihsan, these are preliminary problems. We’ve had them year after year. Some things have improved. But a lot of the issues have continued to remain the same.
I would like to say that we always try to improve situation of the teachers. But somehow we are never able to do enough. And that is a shame, it is a real shame. Because as we celebrate Teachers’ Day for this year, we are quite aware that teachers make an enormous contribution to the development of this country. For all the teachers who have gone through this school, thousands and thousands of them, over the last fifty to sixty years, I say thank you, because you have made such a big difference for Maldives.
Majeediyya School will always have a special place because it is Majeediyya School. This was the only boys’ school in the country. I was teaching a full school curriculum for many years. And many of the people who occupy important positions in government and private sector in this country, men, have come out of this school. So it is impossible to assess the value of the contribution that has been made by this school. And that is why this is so special. That is why we have to always pay more attention to Majeediyya School. I wish you would do that.
But as schools multiplied through the country, hundreds of them now, of course the government also has to pay attention to all of them. So it was never again the same as when Majeediyya School used to be the only school for boys in Male’. There were two schools basically, Majeediyya and Aminiya School. The school has expanded and now it’s even too small. We are trying to build an annex to the school behind me. Work has started I hope. And I hope it will be completed next year. Just today we were looking at the 2014 budget and we made sure that funds were allocated for construction of that building.
It’s not because we don’t appreciate the work that you do, that we are unable to do the things that you ask. It’s partly because the country is going through serious financial difficulties at the moment. Actually every month the government struggles to pay the salaries for public servants and almost every month we have to borrow. Because the economy of this country is not been managed and have not yet been managed for several years now. Since the 2004 tsunami, we’ve been going through this kind of economic difficulties. Our expenditures have always been more than our revenue.
Just this afternoon in the cabinet we were discussing these issues. We have to invest more in our human resources, and our human capital. But to do that we also have to raise more revenue. And we also have to restructure the government expenditures. It’s not going to be easy. I think the next government is going to have a very tough time. I don’t envy the next president. But I hope that the government garners enough courage and strength to be able to bring about the reforms that are required. So that we shift our resources and prioritize them. So that we are able to send more to the teachers and for the schools. I hope that it’s done.
We are here to celebrate your work, yourselves. I know you don’t get paid enough. I know you don’t get enough respect. But I know you are also very proud to be teachers. You are here because you are proud to be teachers. Because you enjoy teaching. Otherwise I know you won’t be here. You have better things you can do in terms of remuneration and rewards, financial rewards.
You know, when I used to work in East Africa, I was always working in the field of education. One of the issues we were looking at was teacher motivation and incentives. But we found out that most of the teachers said they valued condition of work more than their wages. Even when teachers don’t get paid enough, if they have good working conditions, if they have the teaching aides, and if they have the support they need in school, they valued that more. That’s why it’s important not only to pay attention to teacher salaries and incentives, very important to do so, but in addition to that it’s also very important to pay attention to what happens inside the school.
How you empower the teachers, what resources teachers have to work with and how you maintain school management and discipline. These are equally important. When you have good management, we like to work there. When you are able to participate in the governance of the school, in the running of the school we enjoy being there. And when we are respected as colleagues we like to be there. So, I can see that Majeediyya School has turned out to be a school like that. And that is why we see such good results. Last year’s exam results were particularly impressive. I want to congratulate you all for the excellent work you have done to be able to produce such good results. I hope the parents of this school recognize that.
I believe the children of this school are very lucky now. Because you all have helped together with the principal to turn around the school. It wasn’t so good a few years ago. About five, six years ago, this school had serious problems; discipline problems, poor results, weak management. But that has been turned around now. And I know all of you had a role to play in it.
On the government’s side we will do what we can to help make your lives better. But you all have to keep on reminding us. I know you are proud teachers. I know you are very happy to be teachers. Once you are a teacher, you are always a teacher. For me the greatest reward of having been a teacher is to see that my students have done so well. They came out of school, they went to universities, they got good jobs, and they started with families. Ultimately, that is the reward for us as teachers. There is no greater reward than seeing our students succeed in their work and life. That is why we are here in this profession. And I know each one of you are already proud of what you have done. Or as you grow older, you will start seeing these rewards and receiving.
So, once again I would like to thank you very much all for inviting me to this happy ceremony. I am really happy that you are celebrating Teachers’ Day today with me. Who knows? I might have to go back to teaching soon. But thank you very much for having me and I wish you all the best. And for the little time that I am still in office, I’ll see what I can do help.