Govt. introduces Heyvalla, a vocational training program all students can participate in

Iskandhar School students mark the beginning of the academic new year 2020 on January 12, 2020. (File Photo/Sun/Fayaz Moosa)

The Education Ministry, on Wednesday, launched a more inclusive nation-wide skills development program titled Heyvalla to replace the discontinued Dhasvaaru program – which had been aimed at teaching vocational skills to secondary level students who exhibited low academic performance.

The Heyvalla program was launched by Vice President Faisal Naseem in a ceremony held at the R. Ungoofaaru School on Wednesday evening.

Education Ministry had discontinued the Dhasvaaru program in January, citing that it had been solely aimed at students exhibited low academic performance, and had been serving to sideline and have other negative impacts on those students.

Education Ministry said at the time that the students who completed the Dhasvaaru program lacked the literacy and numeracy skills needed for employment, and were facing challenges in securing employment.

In contrast to the Dhasvaaru program, any interested student who has completed the 10th grade may apply to enroll on the new Heyvalla program.

Speaking at the launch of the Heyvalla program, Education Minister Dr. Aishath Ali noted that any student who wished to develop their vocational skills may enroll in the new program, irrespective of their academic performance.

Dhasvaaru implied that skill development programs were for students who didn’t apply themselves to studies or underperformers. That they were for mischievous students. As a result, many students who wished to develop skills were denied the opportunity. It led to difficulties in finding skilled workers,” said Aishath.

She said that each student had an inherent skill which they must be given the opportunity to explore and develop.

Putting a stop to vocational training being taught as a separate subject under the conventional schooling system, the new Heyvalla program will be held in the gap four-month period between the end of lower secondary education and the start of higher secondary education.

Students who enroll in the Heyvalla program will be taught a wide range of skills, from vocational skills to skills they need to develop in preparation of their home life as adults.

The skills which will be taught will be decided by local schools, based on career opportunities available from the islands and available resources.

Education Ministry said it expected the Heyvalla program to promote skill development among students, and equip them will the necessary skills to ensure their future success straight from their local community.

The new program will begin with 250 students from 20 schools across Maldives.

Several schools have already opened the opportunity for students who completed secondary education in 2019 to enroll in internship opportunities at companies such as MWSC, MACL, Maldives Ports Limited, STELCO, Fenaka Corporation and STO under the new program.

Given that higher secondary education will begin soon, the opportunity to enroll in this year’s Heyvalla program is only available to students who aren’t enrolled to begin their A’ Levels or enrolled in any other courses.

The discontinued Dhasvaaru program had been launched by the former Maldivian government, and had offered vocational training in areas such as hospitality, information technology, tour guiding, office administration and more. Many local companies had participated in the program by offering internship opportunities.