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Govt to identify and list children deprived of education, vaccination

Mariyam Malsa
13 January 2020, MVT 11:31
Minister of Gender, Family and Social Services Shidhatha Shareef. PHOTO: HUSSAIN WAHEED/ MIHAARU
Mariyam Malsa
13 January 2020, MVT 11:31

Minister of Gender, Family and Social Services Shidhatha Shareef, on Sunday, revealed the ministry's decision to compile a list of children deprived of education and vaccination.

Speaking to local media outlet Mihaaru, the minister confirmed that the ministry was collaborating with other relevant authorities to collect information concerning school-age children that are deprived of the right to education.

"In Maldives, both the government and parents are obligated to provide the opportunity for education".

However, she highlighted that certain parents refused to enroll their children in the formal education sector and instead pursued schooling through other means.

The minister expressed that such decisions were not in the best interest of the children considering that the state's curriculum details which information to be conveyed to students of different ages.

As per estimates by the National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC), the number of children who are deprived of education in Maldives exceeds 250.

Minister Shidhatha stated that the actual figure of incidents is likely to exceed those that are reported.

After the Health Protection Agency (HPA) confirmed that an unvaccinated three-year was diagnosed with measles during the previous week, concerns of children not receiving vaccines increased.

The case was the first one recorded after the World Health Organization (WHO) declared Maldives as one of the first South Asian nations to eradicate measles in 2017. HPA has also announced a second suspicious case this week.

Minister Shidhatha stated that it was not possible to label all individuals who did not provide vaccines for their children as extremists, noting that some parents who do not subscribe to extremist ideologies have also refused vaccination for their children.

Overall, the minister asserted that the incumbent administration's policy was to consider all cases of neglect with utmost seriousness and take all protective measures necessary.

She highlighted the 'Asseyri' operation in Maduvvari, Raa Atoll as an example of the state's commitment to protecting children.

The situation of 20 children under the age of 18 were assessed during the jointly conducted operation against extremism. These efforts included vaccinating children who had not received doses.

Minister Shidhatha stated that the operation in Maduvvari aided the identification of aspects that the ministry needed to improve as well issues within the system that need to be addressed.