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The Maldivian National University: The premier educational institution for Maldivians

By Srimal Fernando

Every South Asian nation has a story of how their educational systems emerged. The    renewal of the education system in the Maldives in the proceeding century is a vital achievement by any yard stick.  

Photo: Mr Abdul Rasheed Ali, the Director General of the Maldivian National University

The new century presented some new achievements to support the intended learning outcomes of Maldivian graduates.  The Maldives National University opened its doors to Maldivian students on 15 February 2011.  The nation’s premier university history goes beyond to the time when Maldives College of Higher Education (MCHE) helped students to maximise their potential.

Interestingly, Mr Abdul Rasheed Ali, the Director General of the Maldivian National University (MNU) and Former Dean of the Faculty of Arts provided some insights regarding the university’s past.  The Director General says, “I was the Founding Dean of the Faculty of  Arts at the Maldivian National University for two terms  and  I was  appointed as Director General of University Administration.” 

Photo: Final year students

As Director General at MNU I want to improve the quality of our university”.   In addition, currently we are in the process of digitization and archiving of documents where multiple staffers of the university administration system can access. Being the founding dean of the Faculty of Arts, Director General Mr Rasheed Ali made significant contributions to the Faculty. Mr Rasheed Ali said “I have over 30 years of academic experience.”  I completed my Masters of Arts degree in Australia in language education at the Western Sydney University.

The Faculty of Arts has a long history in the Maldives. In 2009 the Faculty of Arts commenced under the Maldivian College of Higher Education with a batch of 80.” “Today, it has  transformed from a Faculty based in the Male’ campus  to degree-granting campuses located in faraway Atolls  and  Islands  in  Kulhudhufushi, Gan,Thinadhoo, and  Hithadhoo providing quality   education  to  the Maldivian  students . “ Compared   to those days the Faculty of Arts has lot more to offer.”   

The   wide variety of programmes, include Dhivehi Language and Culture, Journalism, Political Science and International Relations, Psychology, Japanese and Chinese, and Visual Arts, English Language and Communication.   The Faculty offers a wide range of high quality courses in a variety of different levels of study from undergraduate through to PhD doctoral level programmes” said Mr Ali. Now, as a Director General with his busy schedule is overseeing the progress of one Ph.D. candidate in Dhivehi towards completion ofa research degree.  At that  time Mr  Rasheed Ali   was  one of the  biggest  contributors   of the Maldivian University  system  and a true pioneer in Dhivehi   studies  preserving the  cultural integrity for both current and future generations.

The School of Journalism:  Changed the course of Media education in Maldives

For years,  the  School of Journalism   at the  Maldivian National University has been the up-and-coming  mass  media and communication  school in the whole of Maldives  The school  in turn,  offers  Maldivian students an opportunity to specialize in print, radio, or television and in  advanced undergraduate  and Masters  programmes . The  school   is one of the keys to creating an environment that genuinely supports Faculty of Arts.

Photo: Srimal Fernando with Dr Ahmed Zaki

The  lecturers at the Maldivian School of Journalism  has made some of the best curricular materials providing opportunities for more than 60  undergraduate and master's degree programs. Dr Ahmed Zaki, is the Head of the  School of Journalism at the Maldivian National University. The distinguished Maldivian Academic holds a Ph.D. in Journalism from the University of Canterbury in New Zealand.   

It  is the responsibility of the Head of School to ensure that  the school  play  a critical role in achieving the objectives of the  Faculty of Arts . As a  Head of School  Dr Ahmed Zaki, described  what it's like to be   at the  top  level of the Senior Leadership .  Dr Zaki, says “   This is a small   country and since  2010  the School of Journalism at the Maldivian National University  (MNU) commenced   . I joined as  the Head  of  School   in 2014 . However  our degree courses  are  longer and  we offer  Diploma , three  year  degree courses  and  Masters level courses.  

Our  first  batch of  Diploma holders  graduated in 2013 and  the Bachelors of Arts  students graduated in 2014 .” From 2014 to 2016  we  had  healthy  period in students intakes .  There is no shortage of challenges in the  school of Journalism .The  Head of    Journalism   have a tough job because so many responsibilities fall on his shoulders. Looking at some of the biggest problems confronting Journalism school has become much more than maintaining worthy rankings.  The Head of   school identified some key insights into the biggest challenges they face at present.  

“The first reason was   the school  was grappling with low numbers enrolment of students for diploma, undergraduate and to other  courses since 2017 “.  Second reason was ‘the Public Service Media (PSM) was formed as a Public Service Company under the Public Service Media Act (9/2015) on 28th April 2015’. Maldives Media Institute(MMI)  is subsidiary of Public Service Media (PSM )  that was  created  and they  (MMI) became a competitor to the courses  offered  by  our school creating  mixed results  for students  interested in new  career pathways in media “Third reason  was  types of courses on offer provided by non  MNU  Journalism school  institution/s  are  shorter in length in comparison to the   traditional  long-courses offered  by  us . This reason may be  one of the factors  that’s attracts to potential students who  wants  to complete it  easily in a short span of time”  The fourth reason is  “We  maintain quality  and standards  . In addition   passing minimum for each of the courses offered by  Journalism school    shall  be  50  percent on a scale of 100”.  Fifth  reason the a growing circumstances  and  restrictions on journalist  deterring  them from freely expressing their opinions during  2017  to 2018nyears   might have   completely discouraged  students of joining  our courses. Yet looming over  challenges   faced  by  the school  are larger questions  that  need  to be addressed . The MNU  Journalism School is a  launching pad that can   contribute to  media  reforms  in the Maldives   .In  the broader society,  Dr Ahmed Zaki’s , outstanding contributions to  the   tertiary education system specially in the field of   Media and communication   is highly recommended to anyone . Even though there are many different  institutions  and pathways to get to the same destination. Of course the point is not just completing a degree by any standards  but  to  get a  proper training  at a standardize institution like, School of Journalism that  has serious ways of training   next generation of   communicators  and media personals .

Srimal Fernando is a Doctoral Fellow at Jindal School of International Affairs (JSIA), India and a Global Editor of Diplomatic Society for South Africa. He won the 2018/2019 Best Journalist of the year award in South Africa

 


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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October/November 2019

 
 
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