"Acheedi! Kalaafaanu School! Varah foohivey!"
Two girls from Ghiyaasuddin School walked past us, eyeing us as though we were dirt on their shoes. Back then, I considered that as the most offensive insult I'd ever been subjected to. I find it pretty funny now. One reason is that this comment was passed during a gathering of selected students from all the primary schools in Male' to prepare for an event that, somewhat ironically, depicted the unity between the schools. But what I'm about to share with you all is anything but funny. In fact, you're going to be shocked, and I hope I won't get into too much trouble for revealing the truth.
First of all, let me define schoolism. It is the belief that there are inherent differences between schools & that certain schools are to be considered more superior than others. I invented this word by the way. The comment above that was passed to me & my schoolmates can't really be considered schoolist, but more as "competition". I mean, we're all rather fond of the schools we studied at aren't we?
It becomes a problem when the very people who're supposed to be fostering the education system in this country adopts this discrimination. Three years ago, a relative of mine who works at the British Council was invited to a seminar where high ranking officials at the Ministry of Education and several principals & supervisors of various schools were also present. She spoke to a supervisor who was also a good friend of hers and who had switched jobs from Kalaafaanu to Iskandhar School, about her new job. This certain supervisor told her that she was enjoying life at Iskandhar a lot more as the parents of students from KS were "uneducated". This relative of mine was back then, a parent of a KS student, so naturally, she was deeply offended.
This wasn't the worst though. She then spoke to a high ranking Ministry official. She was asked why the Heads of Ahmediyya School, who had done so well in the O'levels in recent years, were not invited. This was the exact response from this lady;
"They are not important."
Now didn't that shock you? She even said this in plain English, which in my opinion, highlights her arrogance even more. Here's a hint; she used to be a principal of Ghiyaasuddin School. And it drives me mad that some of them at the Ministry are actually working to restrict educating students of certain schools. Who cares that they're a private school? Isn't it their job to ensure that every young Maldivian gets access to good education? An aunt of mine, who works at the ITE (that's a place where they train people to become teachers, for those who don't know) shares the Ministry's ideology. According to her, students of Ahmediyya are made to do lots of past paper questions during their preparation for the O'levels, and that they don't really have the "practical knowledge". I don't really understand this statement, as during the 3 years I spent at Dharumavantha, they made us do a lot of past papers too. Ask anyone who studied at Majeediyya or Ameeniya, & they'll give you the same response. Them at the Ministry, with their heads full of 'Beyfulhuness' just don't like Ahmediyya School because they train students who don't really have the same priviledged backgrounds as most of the students at government schools.
The former principal of Ahmediyya happens to be a good friend of my mother's. They spoke ocassionally, and he always told her of the difficulties faced by his students. Most of them are from islands where access to information & general knowlegde isn't as easy as in Male'. So the only way to train them is by making them focus solely on the syllabuses of the subjects that they study, and this method has recieved unjust criticism from many quarters. According to these critics, this method should be scrapped as it is not right for students to "learn everything without knowing anything". But it's the only way for students at public schools, where facilities are scarce compared to government schools, to achieve good results and pursue higher studies. So what do these critics mean? That such students should be left to rot & spend the rest of their lives trying to get half-decent jobs. I have a few friends who studied at Ahmediyya, & let me tell you that they're as good as anyone when it comes to using their brains.
During my pre-school days Ameer Ahmed School was deemed as crap. At Primary, Kalaafaanu was called crap. I suppose that it's a wonder I managed to get to Dharumavantha, one of the so-called "Great Three" schools of Maldives. Funny how poor oul' Ahmediyya manages to scrap together much better performances in the O'levels year in, year out. Darn I hate schoolism..