‘Presidential Dialogue’ to commemorate the United Nations Universal Children’s Day President urges students to aim for the highest level By Vidya Gappy |17 November 2022
To commemorate the United Nations Universal Children’s Day which falls on November 20, President Wavel Ramkalawan interacted with school students from institutions across Seychelles in a live televised presidential dialogue yesterday from State House.
The theme for this year is ‘Inclusion, for Every Child’.
The 16 students representing their schools were Jasmine Constant (Independent School), Yara Agnes (La Digue), Tricia Hoareau (Plaisance), Malia Trambelland (Ecole Française des Seychelles), Gabriel Suzette (Anse Boileau), Jerome Rachel (Anse Royale), Tara Andre (Beau Vallon), Elissa Dogley (Belonie), Rania Marguerite (English River), Aurel Raoul (Mont Fleuri), Mikel Marie (Perseverance), Shamila Gobin (Pointe Larue), Verney Joubert (School for the Exceptional Child), Darnell Vincent (International School), Said Lesperance (Praslin) and Laurent Bossy (Vijay International School Praslin).
The moderator was Jean-Luc Barra.
The youth seized this opportune time to ask pertinent questions that are directly related to them: What does COP27 represent for Seychelles? What is the role of youth in the protection of environment? What is the fate of people living with disabilities? Comment mieux gérer les déchets dans nos dépotoirs? Will music be introduced as a subject in our schools? Concerns about teenage pregnancy or even youth in delinquency among others.
During the conference, an emotional moment was when Verney Joubert from the School for the Exceptional Child started talking. President Ramkalawan left his seat and went to hold him and read the question with him. When he told young Verney that his parents love him and his teachers love him and he is a strong man, this brought a smile on his face.
President Ramkalawan was once again impressed with the questions from the young generation but at the same time expressed his sadness when hearing the questions relating to the state of our youth.
“Every generation sees the younger generation as troublesome, but it is the same youth that ends up becoming leaders of the country. I have faith in you and the country has faith in you and you have to do your best. Live your life now and do not tend to do things that are not of your age. In sports, the new generation is putting new records and you should never lose trust in ourselves and follow the different phases of life with a good behaviour and attitude. You will be the new generation that will bring Seychelles further. Annou pran letan pour nou grandi. Pushing our students to go to the highest level. This is our aim,» stated the President.
The students also asked to have music classes in their school and the President assured them in the presence of the Minister for Education, Dr Justin Valentin, that they will ensure that this idea is taken up and have the opportunity to develop their talents.
Teenage pregnancy and youth delinquency were other topics where the President advised the youth to choose the right friends and make the right decisions in life.
“The question of rehabilitation saddened me as you are confirming that more and more children are getting into trouble due to bad behaviour. Social media helps in aggravating the situation. We will have a Rehabilitation Centre on Praslin to separate the youth from the adults and this is a concern for me and for the government and we are working to remedy this situation.”
Regarding young drug addicts, the President said: “The message is clear through the Care clubs by saying no to drugs, no to alcohol and in the whole education system we are talking about how to live a healthy life. How do you convince yourself that you do not need alcohol or drugs for you to enjoy life? The message should also be for adults please do not destroy our young people with drugs and alcohol.”
The question of security outside school premises also came up and the President assured the children that the police are doing their work and they need the community to collaborate.
“We also need to help our children to defend themselves and speak to their teachers if they need help,” stated President Ramkalawan.
Regarding parents who are struggling to make ends meet even if they are working hard, the President shared how the breakfast and lunch programmes have been brought in to alleviate the situation and that parents can also apply to get help.
Two questions were raised about the inclusion of children living with disabilities and the President noted that “No child will be left behind and all ministries should be working together to see how to include the children no matter what their abilities are”.
One of the students expressed concern over the increase in suicide cases among the youth and to that the President noted: “We want to put emphasis on school counsellors and we want the youth to use peer counselling as a way to solve their issues. Peers have an incredible force. Please look for help if need be and we will assist you.”
The accompanying photos show some highlights of the dialogue.
Photos by Joena Meme