SIAH Graduation |13 May 2023
Sajah Leon wins President’s Cup
By Sunny Esparon`
Sajah Leon is the winner of the President’s Cup for being the most outstanding student of the Seychelles Institute for Agriculture and Horticulture (SIAH) for 2021-2022.
Ms Leon was presented with the trophy by Vice-President Ahmed Afif during the institute’s graduation ceremony held yesterday afternoon at the University of Seychelles (UniSey) auditorium.
Vice-President Afif was deputising for President Wavel Ramkalawan who is on an overseas mission.
Seventy-three (73) learners in total graduated yesterday, of whom 12 graduated with and Advanced Certificate in General Agriculture and 3 with an Advanced Certificate in Ornamental Horticulture and Landscaping. Twenty-nine students graduated with a Certificate in General Agriculture (Apprenticeship), 10 with a Certificate in Ornamental Horticulture & Landscaping (Apprenticeship) and 9 with a Diploma in Sustainable Agriculture.
In addition, 10 candidates from the National Botanical Garden Foundation followed training in Ornamental Horticulture and Landscaping. Nine completed the certificate and 1 completed the advanced certificate through the Recognition of Prior Learning programme.
The number of graduates have increased compared to the previous 34 students.
However, the performance results for the previous year were better than this cohort with a passing rate of 85% compared to 63% for this cohort. Furthermore, only 1 distinction has been recorded.
Apart from the President’s Cup, Ms Leon also received a scholarship offered by the government through the Ministry of Education, a certificate by SIAH, a cash prize sponsored by the Agriculture department, a cash prize sponsored by Geffroy's Farm, and a cash prize sponsored by Jacques Matombe. The learner also received a voucher for an all-weekend stay on Silhouette Island in the IDC guesthouse. First Lady Linda Ramkalawan also presented her with a laptop.
Other best overall performers included: Christina Etienne (General Agriculture - Apprenticeship); Gavin Mousbe (Ornamental Horticulture and Landscaping - Apprenticeship); Annabelle Baker (Advanced General Agriculture); Heidi Bacco (Advanced Ornamental Horticulture and Landscaping); Debra Port-Louis (Diploma Sustainable Agriculture).
The best performers in each of the programmes received a certificate, shield, gift voucher and cash prizes from sponsors.
Ms Leon stated that she felt “overwhelmed with emotions” and did not expect to win the President’s Cup.
“I am someone who likes to participate a lot either in school or outside of school activities,” she stated. “This, as well as my academic baggage, I believed helped me win the cup.”
In terms of what sort of help she received, Ms Leon cited that her parents and the lecturers themselves helped her extremely.
“Our Creator as well. When we pray, he answers.”
She is set on doing her A-Levels and eventually go for further studies in the future.
Addressing the large gathering of the 2021-2022 cohort, director of SIAH, Maryanne Marie, stated that it was important to note that the decrease in overall performance is because most of them did not meet the entry criteria, therefore they were on conditional acceptance.
“It is important to note that the certificate programme for this cohort was divided into two groups. The reason was that after the enrolment we discovered that 12 learners had hidden disabilities,” she explained.
SIAH gave the disabled special attention, and nine managed to complete successfully.
“The 12 learners were not strong academically but practically they were motivated and very skilful.”
The institute’s accomplishments over its 40 years of existence include the marketing strategies that started in 2018 has increased the number of enrolments and the number of graduates exiting SIAH.
SIAH also embraced inclusivity by welcoming a group of learners from the Vocational Centre for three months on the farm. Another group from GEM consultancy joined for one month.
“The two groups performed extremely well and some of them have expressed their desire to further their studies with us or on a private farm. We are happy to have been part of this journey,” Ms Marie said.
Important events that happened to SIAH include the approved co-management of the institute with the Agriculture department. SIAH also renewed the MoU for the Regional Cooperation Programmes of the REAP AAOI NETWORK in Reunion in October 2022.
An MoU was signed with UniSey on March 3, 2023 to formalise another pathway for the graduates and the staff. There was also the reopening of farm visits at Anse à la Mouche for kindergarten and primary school pupils as well as secondary students.
The institute also received full accreditation for the New Diploma in Sustainable Agriculture, and all of its programmes on offer are validated.
To improve academic performances, this year SIAH is conducting a Foundation Programme for new recruits.
The institute also has a retention rate of 86% that was recorded for the Diploma Programme.
As for SIAH’s current and future plans, Ms Marie stated that phase one of the construction of their new school comprising the learners, administration block, mechanisation and store unit started in the third week of April this year and is expected to be completed in September this year. According to the same plan, construction work on four classrooms will start in October this year.
Secondly, the Agriculture department together with the board of SIAH are paving the way forward and extending opportunities for learners who wish to pursue further studies in the related field, locally and internationally.
In addition, provision is being made for the institute to receive a hi-tech greenhouse under the UNDP/UNWOMEN, Ridge to Reef and FAO project grant.
SIAH will also do its upmost to participate in four planned activities for 2023 under the MoU with the Regional cooperation REAP Programme in Reunion, though there is a budget limitation that can deter the plans.
SIAH is also currently offering one IGBCSE programme in Agriculture for the Advanced Certificate 1st year cohort.
Photos by Louis Toussaint