The opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) has condemned remarks made by Education Minister Ismail Shafeeu during the Parliament sitting on Tuesday.

Teachers are facing mental anguish as their home life has been increasingly strained due to the administration forcing them to work endlessly, the main opposition party said in a statement issued on Thursday.

“Extra school-based activities aimed at facilitating healthy learning for students have been suspended under the pretext of safeguarding the mental health of teachers; however, in reality, the decision was made to accommodate the curriculum due to the shortened academic year. Teachers are complaining about the shortened school year and being compelled to work incessantly, including weekends, nights, and public holidays,” the MDP said in their statement, adding, “If the administration truly cared about teachers, they wouldn’t impose such a significant burden on them.”

Responding to questions from MPs, Shafeeu said the Ministry of Education had planned more than 140 sports tournaments when the administration took office.

“I believe that sports should be played, exercise should be done, competitions should be held, but it should not be done irrespective of Sunday or Saturday, day or night for a teacher,” Shafeeu said.

Noting that teachers also have job rights, familial obligations and are in a psychologically demanding vocation, he said that, even without making changes to the academic calendar, he would ensure the wellbeing of teachers by merging or reorganising competitions.

The MDP’s statement said it is concerned about the adverse impact of the administration’s decisions, taken without due consultation or planning, on student welfare and called for more responsible decision making.