Praying on time not linked to extremism: Minister

The primary basis of the curriculum used in the Maldives' education sector is to build children who are brought up according to Islam, Education Minister Dr. Aishath Ali has said.

The Minister's statement comes while criticism has been aimed at the government regarding a Hafthaares awareness session held in R. Ungoofaaru, where participants were told that praying on time during school session hours was a warning sign of extremism. Some critics have pointed out that the Hafthaares session stated that if students pray during school hours, and a teenager sports facial hair, it is a sign that the child is conforming to extremism. Some said the program also taught that refraining from singing the school song during assembly as it contains music, is also a sign that a child is turning to extremism.

The Education Minister was asked regarding the issue during Monday's Parliament sitting. Maavashu MP Mohamed Saeed inquired from the Minister about the measures taken in her capacity as the Minister of Education in this regard, to which the Minister responded by stating that the main basis of the curriculum used in the education sector is to raise children who practice Islam.

"So, we are working on building through the curriculum, talented and informed students who practice Islam and love the country," she said.

Aishath Ali said that to achieve that goal, schools have facilitated prayer spaces for students and that parents are aware that students pray in school. The Minister said she was not aware that information was given during any session that if students prayed during school hours, it was a sign that the child was following extremism. She further said she does not see students praying in schools as a sign of extremism, and said she would encourage them to pray in schools as prayer is a pillar of Islam.