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The Future of MNU Faculty of Arts: An Interview with Founding Dean Abdul Rasheed Ali

30 November 2016

The Maldives National University, the first university to be opened in the Maldives, is popularly known as MNU throughout the country.  Faculty of Arts is one of the dynamic faculties within the Maldives National University. The Faculty of Arts offers a wide range of programs for students of all ages and educational backgrounds across the Maldives. As the current Dean, Abdul Rasheed Ali leads the Faculty of Arts at MNU, the country’s premier institution in the field of Dhivehi, History, Journalism, Political science and other Arts related subjects.  In a conversation with Global Editor for The Diplomatic Society,  Srimal Fernando  spoke to the founding Dean Abdul  Rasheed Ali and he presented a historical overview and personal insights into the role he  played to deliver life-changing career  exploration for high aspiring students at the  Faculty of Arts.

Photo: L-  R  Srimal Fernando  and Founding Dean Abdul Rasheed Ali, Faculty of Arts at MNU

Abdul Rasheed Ali, the founding dean of the Faculty of Arts said, “I have over 30 years of academic experience and had my primary education in Eydhafushi Island in the Baa Atoll. Late, I had my teachers training in the Maldives and l left for the UK to study further at the University of Leeds.” I completed my Masters of Arts degree in Australia in language education at the Western Sydney University.”

The Faculty of Arts has a long history in the Maldives.  In 2009 the Faculty of Arts commenced under the Maldivian College of Higher Education with a batch of 80. Today, it has grown from a Faculty based in the University to four degree-granting campuses located in Kulhudhufushi, Gan,Thinadhoo ,and  Hithadhoo, serving a student population of 400.

Developing Higher education is an important element of the Maldivian Government strategy. Abdul Rasheed Ali said, “We want to expand our faculty to other atolls in the coming years. Higher education is an important component of the development of a country. Our vision of the faculty is to become the best among the other ten faculties with the University. We want to offer courses which are important to the country.”  The Faculty offers a wide range of high quality courses in a variety of different levels of study from undergraduate through to doctoral level programmes. The Faculty of Arts comprises a wide variety of programmes, which include Dhivehi Language and Culture, Journalism, Political Science and International Relations, Psychology, Japanese and Chinese, and Visual Arts, English Language and Communication.   “Our first batch of Political science and international relations students will graduate in December 2016. In our Dhivehi Language course in Masters of Arts (MA), three batches have passed. The Journalism course came in 2011 and PhD in Applied linguistics will commence from this year,” said Dean Abdul Rasheed Ali.   

Conflict resolution has today become a high profile subject taught in many internationally recognized Universities. Skills in peace building enable educators to bring important global issues into the classroom and strengthen students’ conflict management skills.  The Dean of the Faculty of Arts at the Maldivian National University is interested in developing a curriculum pertaining to the issue of peace building and reconciliation. Some forward-looking, globally recognized peace building and conflict resolution learning institutions have identified the values of peace building and conflict training opportunities. The founding Dean Abdul Rasheed Ali said, “I have heard that the Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO) based in Oslo, Norway conducts research and training programmes in peace and conflict studies. We would be very much interested in collaborating with Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO) to help our students to develop a broad understanding of the subject through our political sciences degree course.”

Interview with Dr Ahmed Zaki, New Head of the School of Journalism
L-R Srimal Fernando and Dr Ahmed Zaki, New Head of the School of Journalism, MNU

Dr Ahmed Zaki is the Head of the School of Journalism at the Maldivian National University. He holds a Ph.D. in Journalism from the University of Canterbury in New Zealand. The outstanding reputation of the School of Journalism can be largely attributed to the strength of Faculty of Arts at Maldives National University. The School of Journalism at the University offers Journalism in Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree and a two year Diploma programme.  In an exclusive interview in Male the Global Editor for The Diplomatic Society, Srimal Fernando, engages Dr Ahmed Zaki, Head of the Journalism School at the Maldivian National University.

Srimal Fernando (SF): Dr Ahmed Zaki, can you give us a brief background of yourself?

Ahmed Zaki  (AZ): In the mid-eighties we started a Dhivehi tabloid named Zuvange Harkaai (meaning Youth Activities). I was the Editor of the tabloid and was popular among youth at that time. In 1989 I commenced my career in media and joined the Ministry of Information. I was the Director General of Information Policy and left the Maldives in 2006 for higher studies to New Zealand.  Academically I have a Bachelor of Arts (BA) Degree in Political Science. Further, I have a BA, MA and a PhD in Journalism.  I completed my PhD Journalism degree in Community Broadcasting from the University of Canterbury in New Zealand. My research was based in countries such as Sri Lanka, Nepal and New Zealand. Certain parts of the Research were based on community radio.  During my doctoral studies  I based  myself for  a few months  for my research work at the Kothmale Community Radio project in Sri Lanka.  I joined the School of Journalism at the Maldivian National University (MNU) in 2014. I am currently the Head of the School of Journalism at MNU.  I am one of the fifteen members of the Maldivian Media Council.

SF: School of Journalism is one of the professional graduate schools of Maldives National University. Tell us a little about the Journalism school history.

AZ : The School of Journalism in MNU  began in 2010. In fact, currently there are 35 students enrolled in the school. The first batch of Bachelor of Arts (BA) students graduated in 2014. The B.A. degree (Bachelor of Arts), in Journalism requires three years of study. The Journalism Diploma is a two year long course at the Journalism school. We teach students radio, television, print, audio, online and visual media streams.



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