Two teachers from the Education Centre in Villingili of southern Gaafu Alif atoll have been dismissed from their posts for allegedly taking part in an opposition rally.
The opposition supporters in Villingili last Friday rallied, calling for the immediate release of the jailed opposition parliamentarians.
Speaking to ‘Mihaaru’, Villingili island council’s President Mohamed Waheed claimed that the two teachers who are accused of partaking in political rallies, Shazmeena Siyam and Aishath Raqeeba, had not even participated in the rally that was held on Friday.
“They weren’t really taking part in the rally. They ran in to us whilst we were protesting on the road. They were on their motorbikes with their children. But because we had occupied most of the road, they were driving alongside us till they could take a turn and move away,” Waheed explained.
“And it so happened that when they were caught with the protestors, someone decided to take a picture and report it to the ministry.”
In the dismissal letter that was sent to the teachers, the Ministry of Education had cited “actively advocating the release of detainees” as grounds for dismissal, and stated that, under the civil service regulations, they can be held accountable by association.
The teachers who were sent the dismissal letters were given time to respond and, according to the council president, they had responded in due time.
However, they have not yet received a reply from the ministry.
The ministry, in their dismissal letters, had also highlighted their regulation which states that teachers can only participate in political activities after official working hours, Waheed said. He noted that the rally took place at 5:30 p.m., well after official working hours.
Waheed reported many parents complaining to the island’s council after the two teachers' dismissal. He said that it seemed like a “drastic” and “unfair” measure as neither the school nor any parent had ever complained about the two teachers who were dismissed.
A similar protest took place in Thinadhoo in Gaafu Dhaalu atoll last Friday, where two teachers from Thinadhoo School were also asked to “stay home” for allegedly taking part in the protest.
According to sources from Thinadhoo, the two teachers that were dismissed from Thinadhoo were secondary and higher secondary teachers. Parents of the teachers’ students had apparently raised serious concerns as the dismissal came just months before the O’ Level and A’ Level examinations.
Earlier last week, the Education Ministry dismissed a teacher at the school in Mathiveri island of Alif Alif atoll for teaching whilst wearing a niqab.
The teacher of seven years had also received a letter stating that she was violating the Civil Service Commission's regulations by teaching whilst covering her face as it went against the commission's dress code.