This paper is aimed at discussing the adoption of educational technologies in such a country as the Maldives. It is necessary to focus on the geographic, demographic, and economic peculiarities of this state. Furthermore, much attention should be paid to the policies on information and communication technologies (ICTs). Additionally, one should understand the challenges that they face when establishing ICT.
One can argue that the policy-makers of this country appreciate the role of ITCs for the professional development of students. Nevertheless, they have to overcome infrastructural problems. This is the main argument that can be put forward.
Maldives at a glance
The Republic of Maldives includes 26 atolls that are located between the Chagos Archipelago and Minicoy Island (Ellis, 2008, p. 4). According to the 2013 estimation, the population of the country numbers 393,988 people (Central Intelligence Agency, 2013).
Dhivehi is the official language in the Maldives; however English is also widely spoken. The state can be described as a presidential republic. The economy of this country strongly depends on tourism, since this sector yields approximately 29 percent of the GDP (Central Intelligence Agency, 2013). These are some of the main aspects that need to be considered.
Historical overview of education in Maldives
It should be noted that in the educational system of this country has long been based on such organizations as edhuruge. This term is used to describe the gathering of children in some private home (Mohamed & Ahmed, 1998, p. 1; Rao, 2005, p. 183).
These schools were governed by local communities. One should bear in mind students, who attend edhuruges, only receive rudimentary knowledge of arithmetic and Quran (Mohamed & Ahmed, 1998, p. 1). Currently, there are attempts to make edhuruges more consistent with the academic standards that are set by the state (Gupta, 2007, p. 119).
The Maldives Ministry of Education was formed in 1968 (International Bureau of Education, 2013). In turn, the decision of to unify national educational system was adopted only in 1978 (Mohamed & Ahmed, 1998, p. 1).
To a great extent, the changes in the educational system of this state can be explained by the developmental needs of the country. The sustainability of its economy was dependent on the availability of skilled labor. This is one of the issues that can be singled out.
Present education system in the Maldives
The Ministry of Education
Currently, the Ministry of Education in the country consists of several departments or divisions. Among them, one can distinguish the Educational Development Centre, the Department of Public Examinations, the Educational Development Centre, and other organizations (International Bureau of Education, 2013). These divisions have a wide scope of responsibilities and mandates.
In particular, they are supposed to design national curriculum in schools and provide resources that should be used by teachers and learners. Apart from that, this institution has to promote professional development of educators (International Bureau of Education, 2013).
These divisions are also responsible for the collection of data about the performance of schools and development of strategies that should benefit both learners and teachers. Overall, the main task of this ministry is to ensure that the education offered to people corresponds to the developmental needs of the country.
Educational policies of the country
The educational policies of the country are primarily aimed at improving the competencies of teachers. For example, it is possible to refer to the Professional Development Policy adopted in 2009 which is supposed to provide opportunities to educators.
Therefore, these professionals have to attend workshops, seminars, online programs, workshops, and courses which help them to elaborate their instruction methods (International Bureau of Education, 2013). This policy is mostly intended for school teachers who need to spend at least 15 on the activities that promote the development of their skills. This is one of the aspects that can be singled out. Additionally, policy-makers attempt to eliminate the inequalities existing among schools located in different parts of the country.
In particular, they want the schools located on various islands to have the same resources that are available to schools in Male which is the capital of the country. This strategy is also critical for the improvement of students’ academic performance.
National curriculum focus
The national curriculum developed in this country includes several developmental areas. First of all, one can speak about psychological, emotional and physical development of a child (Maldives Ministry of Education, 2001). Additionally, much attention is paid to the social skills of a learner and his/her ability to understand and follow Islamic norms of behavior (Maldives Ministry of Education, 2001).
Finally, educators focus their attention of learners’ analytical and critical thinking skills that are essential for academic performance of students. Yet, it should be mentioned that the role of technologies and their use are not sufficiently stressed in the national curriculum.
The policy-makers and educators refer to the skills that are necessary for economic activities, but they do not mention ICTs (Maldives Ministry of Education, 2001). This is one of the main limitations that should not be disregarded.
Educational technology policies and objectives
ICT competencies identified by UNESCO
It should be mentioned that there are several ICTs competences that are identified by international organizations such as UNESCO (2011). In particular, they are related to such areas as project-based learning, group work, problem-solving and other learning activities of students (UNESCO 2011). They are essential for the cognitive development of a person (Price, 2012, p. 10).
Furthermore, teachers should be able to use new instructional models which can better exploit the opportunities provided by information technologies. It is possible to distinguish the following competences:
- technology literacy or ability to apply ICTs;
- knowledge deepening or provision of learning materials and instructions which contribute to the development of students’ skills;
- knowledge creation or the promotion of learners’ ability to make innovations and generate new knowledge (UNESCO, 2011, p. 7).
These are the main competencies that should be considered by educators.
ICT development of the Maldives
At present, the government of the country attempts to make ICTs more affordable. This is why they reduced import taxes imposed on computer equipment (Ahmed, 2004, p. 6). Moreover, the government wants to liberalize the market for Internet service providers (Ahmed, 2004, p. 5). These initiatives are vital for improvement of ICT infrastructure within the country (Foster, 2011, p. 75).
One of the goals that are set by the state is to increase the PC literacy of students (Ahmed, 2004, p. 6). In order to achieve this goal, they provide computers to schools that are located in various regions of the country. Nevertheless, it is critical to remember that there are significant inequalities between various parts of the country (Hens, 2006, p. 193).
For instance, the quality of Internet connection in Male is much better than in other regions. Similarly, the adoption of ITCs is much more widespread in schools located in the capital than in other parts of the Maldives. This is one of the problems that should be taken into account.
Recent educational projects in Maldives
Educational policies related to the implementation of ITCs
Currently, the government attempts to improve IT infrastructure in educational organizations. One of their intentions is to make sure that computers are present in every secondary school (Government of Maldives, 2006, p. 91).
In addition to that, policy-makers stress the ability of teachers to incorporate ITCs into their lessons. On the whole, their overarching goal is to make information technologies a part of the educational process. This objective is critical for increasing the professional competitiveness of school graduates.
ITC projects in education
One can identify several projects are related to the implementation of information technologies. First of all, much attention should be paid to the establishment of Multipurpose Community Telecenter.
This institution is supposed to provide learners with such resources as fax, voice mail, telephones, Internet, or TV (Survey of ICTs for Education in India and South Asia, 2010, p. 74). This organization will be intended for people who do not have access to ICTs in their local schools.
Furthermore, Maldives Ministry of Education participates in the program called the Virtual University for Small States (Survey of ICTs for Education in India and South Asia, 2010, p. 74).
This program enables students to take the courses that are held in the universities of the United Kingdom, Canada, or Australia. To a great extent, this project is based on active use of information and communication technologies. They enabled students from the Maldives to interact with distinguished professors.
Moreover, there are many initiatives that are supposed to improve the infrastructure of many schools. For instance, the government intends to provide a laptop to every teacher working in public schools (Survey of ICTs for Education in India and South Asia, 2010, p. 74). Yet, one should keep in many that many of these projects have not been fully implemented.
Challenges in establishing ICT in Maldivian schools
There are several obstacles that prevent the government of Maldives from establishing ICT in schools. First of all, people living in some remote areas of the country struggle with such problems as power cuts and poor internet connectivity (Ujaley, 2013).
These difficulties are encountered by people living on the remote islands of the Maldives. Under such circumstances, information technologies cannot be effectively adopted. Furthermore, there is a lack of teachers who can effectively adopt implement ICTs in school. Many of them are not able to design lessons with the use of ITCs. This issue is also critical for understanding the challenges faced by this country.
The discussion of various problems suggests that the government of Maldives attaches importance to the role of information technologies. To a great extent, they are critical for human development in this country.
They attempt to implement several projects that can enable students to improve their learning activities. Yet, there are some problems that cannot be overlooked. It is vital to remember that the economic and infrastructural differences between various regions of the country slow down the adoption of ICTs.
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