Ministry of Education, on Tuesday, confirmed that the ministry has received the funds required for the reopening of schools, and that preparations are underway to resume the academic year on July 1.
According to the ministry, the MVR 8.4 million required for the reopening was provided by the state budget as well as UNICEF and World Health Organisation (WHO).
Correcting media reports stating that the Education Ministry has not acquired the MVR 8.4 million, State Minister of Education Aishath Athiya Naseer explained that the financial shortcomings were regarding the total budget for the Emergency Response Plan (ERP) formulated by the ministry in collaboration with UNICEF.
The ERP aims to focus on five key-areas -- safety, continuity of education, inclusivity, protection and well being, and building resilience and strengthening coordination -- implemented before, during and after the reopening. The plan will be executed across a three-year period.
The education ministry has yet to secure the MVR 322 million (USD 20.9 million) required for the implementation of the plan.
The MVR 8.4 million budget was being utilised to guarantee a safe learning environment for students amidst the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak.
In this regard, the ministry is currently equipping every school with sanitisers, disinfectants and soap, in addition to thermometers.
The education ministry also revealed that establishing hand-washing stations in education facilities is underway, along with any other required maintenance work.
The ministry expressed gratitude for the free assistance provided by various construction companies in completing the aforementioned tasks.
Noting that students may mentally struggle with returning to school after a long break in the middle of a global pandemic, the ministry stated that 11,000 teachers were undergoing basic psychosocial support and psychological first-aid training programmes to better understand how to help such students.
The ministry is further providing training programmes on sanitisation and disinfection to support staff in schools.
The closure of schools, universities and training facilities was one of the first measures implemented by the government after declaring a state of public health emergency on March 12 in response to a COVID-19 outbreak. A total lockdown across the Greater Male' Region was declared a month later on April 15.
After the authorities commenced the phased easing of lockdown restrictions on May 28, with the second phase beginning on June 15, the education ministry announced plans to reopen schools on July 1.
Making the announcement on June 16, Education Minister Dr Aishath Ali assured that precautionary measures will be in place to ensure the safety of students, teachers and other staff, and detailed the steps that will be implemented in the 'new normal' for schools.