Friday, April 22, 2011

Same old, same old...even 10,000 miles away

Check out this series of interesting news stories published by a Maldivian newspaper about their local Gulen school. The Maldives is a chain of islands in the Indian Ocean, 375 miles southwest of the tip of India. h/t CASILIPS and Watchdog.

Note: Lale means tulip in Turkish. It's yet another flower reference for the name of a Gulen school.

Screen shot of video posted by user yunusyildiz1984.
Yunus Yildiz is the name of the computer teacher who fled the country (see the last story).
President inaugurates Lale International Youth School. Miadhu Daily (Maldives) 14 May 2009 
President Nasheed has said that Lale International Youth School is one of the very first of the new model of schools that the government wanted to have in the country. The President made the statement while speaking at the inauguration of Lale Youth International School in Hulhumale’.

In his speech, the President highlighted the historical relations that existed between the Maldives and Turkey. Speaking in this regard, the President noted that the Maldives and the Turkey shared many similar traits…
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Police and the education ministry are investigating reports that pupils at Lale Youth International school in Hulhumale are being subjected to physical abuse, including by the school’s principal…

The assistant principal has since gone home to Turkmenistan…

Police spokesperson Ahmed Shiyam confirmed police were conducting an investigation at the school.
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Lale Youth International School is under investigation as a front for an international tax and visa racket operating out of Turkey, Minivan News understands, after weeks of investigation and dozens of interviews with concerned staff, parents and government agencies.

Today police requested that Maldives immigration hold the passport of Principal Serkan Akar, after he attempted to flee the country this morning. Minivan News understands the investigation relates to matters concerning child abuse at the school, and potentially fraudulent qualifications.

The school is also currently being investigated by the Human Rights Commission of the Maldives (HRCM), following complaints from parents. A team from the commission has already interviewed staff and management, and is reportedly in the process of reviewing two conference-tables worth of documents…

President of HRCM Ahmed Saleem said the Lale case was “very strange” and a “high priority” for the commission.
“A lot of government institutions have investigated the school: the Labour Ministry, police… the strange thing is that no action has been taken,” he said. HRCM’s investigation is ongoing but is expected to be resolved next week…

Deputy Principal Suleyman Atayev said Akar was trying to escort two children to an Information Communications Technology (ICT) Olympiad when police stopped him at the airport…

The agreement to run the school was made between the Education Ministry and a local Maldivan company called Biz Atoll Pvt Ltd, which operates out of an unmarked fifth floor residence in a large, nondescript apartment block on Buruzu Magu. The Biz Atoll paperwork is signed by a Turkish individual called ‘Cengiz Canta’…

Lale’s school fees are somewhat arbitrary. Most students pay a monthly tuition fee of US$150. Others pay a combination of other fees including a ‘registration fee’ of US$240, an ‘admission fee’ of US$50, and in some cases an ‘annual enrolment fee’ of up to US$300-465. Yet other students receive discounts on these amounts ranging between 5-50 percent.

The school, which was provided to Biz Atoll free by the government, reportedly receives 50 percent of its funding from a group of Turkish businessmen who pour charity funds into schools in several developing countries, including Sri Lanka, Burma, Indonesia and Cambodia.

Asked who these individuals funding the school were, Lufthy said “I don’t think anyone is sure.”

Atayev confirmed the school was funded by Turkish businessmen through a Turkish organisation called Tuskon, ‘The Turkish Confederation of Businessmen and Industrialists’, and its subsidiary.

But despite the apparent presence of an income, Lale teachers report being denied clocks and light bulbs for their classrooms because of budgetary constraints, while the school’s science labs have no water or electricity and the chemistry lab no gas connection, preventing students from completing coursework necessary for their IGCSE exams in 2011…

“It is commonly accepted among the foreign staff that Turkish teachers are getting higher wages, and that much of the money being brought into the school is not being directed in the appropriate manner. Indian and local teachers are at a huge disadvantage, with many of them receiving very low wages, and even gaining contracts minus basic privileges that other foreign staff get, such as rent allowances,” [a school staff member] said…[Teachers at the Discovery School of Tulsa (OK) have made similar complaints about salary differences. DSA-Tulsa is operated by the Cosmos Foundation, see HERE and HERE.] 

Yet another staff member reported sighting “bundles” of Rf 500 notes being given to Turkish staff.

Meanwhile, a parent told Minivan News that he had spoken to one of the Turkish businessmen involved with the school, who had boasted that if his business donated money to the school, under Turkish taxation law he did not have to pay taxes on it.

A teacher told Minivan News that “Turkish teachers escort Turkish businessmen around the school on a weekly basis, and regularly make trips to Turkey…

“A lot of money is going somewhere,” another suggested. Atayev, on the other hand, claimed that no Turkish teacher worked at the school for the money, but rather “for the benefit of humankind.”…[Gulenists are on a mission]

A common complaint among both Maldivian and expatriate staff at the school is that many of the Turkish teachers are unable to speak English sufficiently to communicate, let alone teach.

Instead, students are reportedly taught five sessions of Turkish a week (compared with two in Islam). Several teachers have even offered English lessons to the Turkish teachers, and expressed surprise at the apparent lack of interest.

“The level of the Turkish staff’s English is a real concern, with many foreign teachers unable to even have an open conversation with some of the Turkish staff,” a Lale teacher told Minivan News…

The principal Serkan Akar was criticised for lacking both professionalism and any apparent qualifications in education or management. A source told Minivan News that when pressured over his qualifications, Akar had produced certification “still warm from the printer.”

Initial recruitment of teachers was performed by Biz Atoll. An early job advertisement sought nearly 138 staff, including eight mathematics teachers, eight biology teachers, six Russian teachers, five PE teachers and six chemistry teachers for Rf 10,000 apiece. Specific qualifications sought included “at least three years of experience” and “Should have good communication skill”(sic).

Despite the high numbers of teachers sought, the school currently has over 200 students, around 60 of whom are in the preschool headed by Serkan’s wife, Saliha Akar…

Moreover, staff members familiar with matter have revealed that ‘phantom teachers’ not working at the school are being paid salaries, “and there are other instances in which teachers who have departed are still being paid.”

The school counsellor, who also works as a chemistry teacher and has ‘English teacher’ on his work permit, “can’t speak English and doesn’t even know what psychology is”, according to another teacher…

During an investigation of the school last year, the Department of Labour Relations in the Human Resources Ministry told Minivan News that some employees at Lale were working “in positions that were different to those specified on their visa.”…

Minivan News reported on January 14 that parents had made allegations that Serkan Akar and then-Deputy Principal Guvanchmyrat Hezretov were using physical force to discipline children…

Students were reportedly threatened that if they told their parents they would receive worse punishments.

Minivan News understands that Hezretov later fled to Sri Lanka after police obtained a warrant for his arrest…

However, the case subsequently lapsed due to lack of evidence…
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Former principal of Lale Youth International School, Serkan Akar, appeared in the criminal court yesterday and denied assault and battery charges made against him made by the Prosecutor General’s office…

The Human Rights Commission of the Maldives (HRCM) is currently compiling a case concerning abuse and other activities at Lale, which were reported by Minivan News last month. Akar has since tried to leave the country twice but was detained by immigration officials, who confiscated his passport…
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A report by the Human Rights Commission of the Maldives (HRCM) into Lale Youth International School on Hulhumale has recommended that the Education Ministry terminate its contract with Maldives-registered company Biz Atoll Pvt Ltd to manage Lale Youth International School, “and hand over management as soon as possible to a qualified party.

The Commission’s investigation had found that students had been “physically and psychologically abused, discriminated against and bullied,” the report stated, recommending “that police should investigate the physical and psychological abuse going on at the school as an urgent concern,” and “separate those suspected of physical abuse from the school’s students until the police investigation is concluded.”

The report also questioned the educational standards of the private school, observing that despite the “high fees” charged for students to attend, the school “has no laboratory for students preparing for the IGCSE” in 2011, the library “does not have books that students need”, and most of the Turkish teachers “do not know English and are therefore unable to teach.”…

“As the school was not handed over to the proprietor in a transparent manner and because the Education Ministry has not undertaken adequate efforts to improve matters at the school, and since corruption has been noted, these cases should be investigated,” HRCM’s report concluded…

Deputy Minister of Education Dr Abdullah Nazeer said the Education Ministry “received the report on Thursday” and was now seeking legal advice from the Attorney General’s office concerning the repossession of the school.

Dr Nazeer also noted that a delegation of officials from the Turkish government and the business community, had arrived in the Maldives and was currently meeting members of parliament to discuss the matter together with the Turkish Consular General in Male’…
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Lale School teacher and deputy flee Maldives. Minivan News (Maldives) 8 July 2010
The Deputy Principal of Lale Youth International School Suleiman Atayev has fled the country, along with the computer studies teacher Yunus Yildiz.

Both staff members left seperately [sic] on flights on Sunday and Monday evening, and did not inform the school they were leaving…

Minivan News understands that the pair were also implicated as suspects in the assault case facing Akar, after school staff testified against him…

Overshadowing repeated controversies over the school’s management is the issue of capacity. The school, which Minivan News understands was built to accommodate almost 1000 grade school students, currently has an enrolment of 98, not including the preschool…
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Here are two promotional videos about Lale Youth International School posted by user yunusyildiz, the name of the computer teacher who fled.

short http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NOqA0QYtE1c
long http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SNXOOCTBl4E&NR=1


 

2 comments:

The Perimeter Primate said...

Excerpt from third article above:

"Atayev confirmed the school was funded by Turkish businessmen through a Turkish organisation called Tuskon, ‘The Turkish Confederation of Businessmen and Industrialists’, and its subsidiary."

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TUSKON also sponsored U.S. Congressman Keith Ellison's current visit to Turkey.

Sunday's Zaman, a Gulenist-operated English-language Turkish newspaper, reported wtth the usual angle of promoting Fethullah Gulen:

EXCERPT:

Keith Ellison, the first Muslim member of the US Congress, has said Turkey is the most important country in the region and the best example of how Islam and democracy can coexist.


Ellison, visiting Turkey upon the invitation of the Turkish Confederation of Businessmen and Industrialists (TUSKON), had talks with Turkish officials, including Finance Minister Ali Babacan, in Ankara...

Ellison also welcomed schools established in the US by businessmen inspired by Fethullah G├╝len and said these schools contribute to tolerance and dialogue and that he likes their approach to education.

The congressman stressed that the Turkish community in the US is more active than in the past and that he is in close contact with Turks there...

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This last statement is suggestive of the increasing Gulenist presence in the U.S.

The Perimeter Primate said...

http://minivannews.com/politics/more-than-1000-cases-of-child-abuse-reported-in-2011-28515

"More than 1000 cases of child abuse reported in 2011." 11/22/2011

Excerpt:

A report submitted to the United Nations by HRCM in July this year found that physical discipline in some schools qualifies as abuse.

...“For instance, the investigation carried out by HRCM on Lale’ International School (2010) made apparent that number of students experienced physical and psychological abuse in the school. Some of the findings include abuses such as strangling and whipping children with belts. The findings of HRCM were further validated when the Criminal Court in August 2010 found the former principal of the school, guilty of assaulting children and sentenced him to pay Rf200 (US $12.97 ) as fine under article 126 of the Penal Code.”

Staff of Lale’ School, including the deputy principle, fled the Maldives in 2010 over allegations of child abuse and other misconducted, which was investigated by HRCM...