Before the establishment of the Maldives College of Higher Education in 1998, the country had only the primary and secondary levels of education. Higher education or post-secondary education was taken in other countries.
Primary education comprises Classes 1 to 5 for children ages six to 10, while the secondary level has Classes six to 10 for children aged 11 to 14. Classes 11 and 12 comprise the higher secondary education.
While the government of the capital city Male directly controls the administration of primary schools, the Ministry of Education supervises the entire educational system of the country and implements its own vision of providing the people with access to quality education and training in both the primary and secondary levels.
Education is not compulsory in the country even if there are courses and educational programs offered on the radio in order to reach every corner of the island nation, and other schools are established to provide students with vocational knowhow. The Vocational Training Center in Male offers courses in electricity, engine repair and maintenance, machinery, welding and refrigeration. In the atolls, the government maintains the Rural Youth Vocational Training Program that provides training in engine repair and maintenance, tailoring, carpentry, and boat building, to help them find gainful employment in their localities after completion of the course. In the Mafuri Island, the Juvenile Reformatory provides short training in electrical and mechanical engineering, carpentry, welding and tailoring. Other schools in the country are the Science Education Center, Arabic Islamic Education Center, Maldives Center for Social Education, and the Maldives Institute of Technical Education.
The Maldives College of Higher Education launched its first degree program in 2000—Bachelor of Arts in Dhivehi Language. Now it has other degree programs offered in its various faculties and departments.