10 November 2016
The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) of Maldives, stopped the handing over of a state-owned building, where Lale’ Youth International School was operated, in reclaimed suburb Hulhumale due to corruption claims filed by students’ parents. The building was to be handed over to Qualitat Education which plans to open “Gateway International School” next year, in collaboration with Sri Lanka’s Gateway College. Gateway Schools, a British firm that is managing schools in the United Kingdom, India, Sri Lanka and Oman.
Biz Atolls Pvt Ltd of Turkey to which the government had awarded the operation of Lale Youth International School, also known as Fareediyya School, was criticised by ACC for failing to meet the condition to open a new school in Hulhumale within a given time. Despite two extensions granted by the Maldives government, Biz Atolls failed to comply with the condition. The government decided not to renew a management contract with Biz Atolls that had run the school since 2009.
Subsequently the government awarded the building for an international school development to Qualitat Education for fifteen years under the condition that the company open a new school in the twelfth year. Several Lale parents had previously submitted a petition to the education ministry demanding Lale School to be given back to Biz Atolls.
The shareholders of Qualitat includes the wives of two High Court judges. According to the Anti-Corruption Commission Act, spouses of High Court Judges are banned from holding shares of business companies associated with foreign firms. Qualitat was registered on July 5, two months before the education ministry opened a bid for the management of the school. The shareholders of Qualitat are:
1. Ganiya Abdul Ghafoor, the wife of High Court Chief Judge Abdulla Didi,
2. Minnath Naseer, the wife of Judge Shujau Usmaan,
3. Moosa Rasheed, the deputy headmaster of Lale,
4. Mohamed Rasheed, bother of Moosa Rasheed, a mathematics teacher at Ahmadiyya School in Malé.
Ganiya Abdul Ghafoor had previously served as the Secretary General at the Supreme Court. Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) had submitted a case against Ganiya at the Prosecutor General’s Office in March 2013, alleging that she had used her post to gain personal advantage. She is also accused of falsifying her testimony in an investigation conducted by ACC.
In June 2010, the human rights watchdog had recommended that the government terminate the contract with Biz Atoll over allegations of physical and psychological abuse. In August that year, the criminal court found its former headmaster, Turkish national Serkan Akar, guilty of assaulting children and sentenced him to pay a Rf200 (US$14) fine.