UNICEF launches teacher resource centres to improve education in Maldives
Using technology to bridge distance, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the Government of the Maldives have opened 20 broadband-enabled teacher resource centres to help provide quality education to a population spread across 200 small islands.
Many teachers in the Maldives – an Indian Ocean archipelago made of 1,200 small islands – remain untrained because up to 80 per cent of teacher-training costs are related to transportation.
The high transport costs meant that qualified trainers have previously only been available in the capital, Male. Even though some 70 per cent of the population live on islands far from the capital, the new centres – equipped with state-of-the-art technology – will make it possible for them to connect remotely.
“It's down to basics. Transport is costly, making it expensive and often dangerous for children to travel between islands to get a better education and for teachers to upgrade their skills,” said UNICEF Representative in the Maldives Ken Maskall.
UNICEF estimates that more than 30 per cent of teachers in the Maldives are untrained, with many islands having up to 100 students per trained primary school teacher. The centres are part of a broader programme with the Ministry of Education to provide every Maldivian child with quality education.
“All children should have access to the same opportunities, regardless of where they live,” said Mr. Maskall. “A good quality education will help Maldivian children to make more valuable contributions to their communities.”
The teacher resource centres also facilitate the establishment of one learning community in the Maldives – for the first time linking administrators and teachers all across the country to a common network.
Through the Educational Development Centre Teacher Resource website, teachers can sit in front of a computer in a resource centre in their atoll, search for materials for their next lessons, download syllabi, and share their own ideas with colleagues in other islands.
In addition, up to 400 teachers can simultaneously receive training by participating in an online course and interacting with one another.