Long run growth, development, and prosperity is achieved through supply side factors like education and health. Better quality education and health services provide productive workers and responsible citizens, thereby leading to higher economic growth. Various empirical studies support this, and there are many examples like Singapore, Japan, and South Korea, where huge investments were made on education and research.
In our case, we have achieved universal primary and secondary education, and our literacy rate is relatively high compared to other developing nations. However, our tertiary education system has been very much neglected for a long time. The Institute for Teacher Education was established in 1984, and laid the foundation for producing quality teachers to teach in our primary and secondary schools. A few years later, in 1987, the School of Hotel and catering services was established, and provided the opportunity to train people for the tourism industry. In 1991, the Maldives Center for Management and Administration (MCMA) was established, and started providing valuable management and accounting courses. In 1998, the government formed the Maldives College of Higher Education (MCHE), and the previously mentioned institutions were changed into faculties and brought into the umbrella of the college.
Since then it has been 12 years. The academic standard of our college has not been improving year by year, rather it has been deteriorating. The college has not been able to create an intellectual environment, with academic debates and discussions, extremely vital for the developmental policies of this country. The country needs a strong academia with research, so that evidence-based decisions are made, and policies are formulated accordingly. The college has not been able to develop its standards so that it can achieve the University status. I remember back in 2004, the Faculty of Management and Computing (FMC), did not have a enough full time lecturers for microeconomics & macroeconomics (because I had to work as a part-time lecturer at that time). Six years on, even now the faculty is in the same situation. When I compare the overall standard now and back then, it has deteriorated alarmingly now. The situation is no better in the Faculty of Education.
Why has the College not performed to our expectations? What are the reasons for not having a strong pool of lecturers/professors after all these years? I dont know the exact answers for these questions. But, for a start, the admission criteria and procedures need to be reviewed in most of the college faculties, since the quality of graduating students can be maintained only if the college adheres to such criteria. Government needs to review the situation and find out the reasons why academic staff are not retained in the college, and implement measures to improve the situation. Government also needs to review the performance of the top management of the College, the College Council, and bring about necessary changes. Most of all, the government needs to acknowledge the importance of tertiary education, a strong academia, and credible research for the development of the country.
What we see are large, nice buildings that have been built with the loan assistance of international institutions, however, the quality of education, and the quality of the courses do not match up to the architectural quality of the buildings. We always tend to give too much emphasis on the physical infrastructure (hardware), rather than the quality of service or human resource (software). As a result, we've got modern physical infrastructure, but very weak software to operate this hardware.