Education at the centre of National Assembly’s questions |13 September 2023
The project to equip all public schools with adequate internet facility is progressing well, the education ministry stated yesterday.
Minister for Education, Dr Justin Valentin, principal secretary for education services, Merna Eulentin and principal secretary for education sector development, John Lesperance were present in the National Assembly yesterday to address members’ queries and concerns.
Asides from connectivity upgrades, the ministry is also investing in the refurbishment of school libraries, and information technology (IT) equipment.
They provided information regarding a number of ongoing projects and those in the pipeline.
Renovations to Anse Kerlan creche
Students of the Anse Kerlan crèche will be able to resume the third school term before the end of the month, following renovations to the facility.
Behavourial problems on school buses
Pupils who continuously behave poorly on school buses will be banned and therefore obligated to find alternative means to and from school, Minister Valentin stated yesterday.
PS Eulentin noted the various consequences for those pupils who fail to behave appropriately, including being issued with warnings, and having their bus passes confiscated for a period of time.
As for those who vandalise buses, parents are liable to pay for any damages to the Seychelles Public Transport Corporation (SPTC).
Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET)
The ministry is forging ahead with its plans to transform the Perseverance school into a Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) centre, for students from Mahé. This will constitute the first phase of the project.
Those from Praslin and La Digue will also be provided for in the project, and ministry-level committees are still determining the best way forward to encapsulate these students.
“The conversations are evolving quickly. We will work with industries to tell them to identify the exact skills that they require from the students, and we will monitor so that when the students end their industry placement, they would have acquired the three skills identified by the industry actors,” Minister Valentin noted.
Efforts to tackle obesity
Minister Valentin informed the assembly that the ministry is committed to supporting the national committee established to tackle obesity, which falls under the umbrella of the health ministry.
The education ministry is member of a subcommittee and is exercising its responsibility to sensitise students, parents and staff about healthy eating, the importance of exercise, and all other health-related matters.
“There is a special group, the School Nutrition Action Group which comprises parents and school staff, who, together they work with tuck-shop operators,” he added.
Tuck-shop operators are bound by a strict nutrition guideline to ensure that pupils have access to healthy snacks while at school.
Moreover, physical education remains an important component of the school curriculum. The minister however remarked that a significant proportion of pupils do not participate in physical education classes, and that it has over the years lost its popularity.
High-impact Community Development Project (HICDP)
Three schools, namely, Plaisance primary, Mont Fleuri and English River secondary, will benefit under the HICDP financial assistance, offered by the government of India, through the High Commission of India to Seychelles.
In order to qualify for the HICDP, the relevant ministries must submit their projects. For qualifying projects, a memorandum of understanding (MoU) is signed by the relevant ministry, prior to the tender process and awarding of contract to contractors.
The cut-off date for the finances to be disbursed is March 2024. Despite informing the assembly that all the relevant processes have been finalised for all three projects, work is yet to begin. However, PS Lesperance noted that all works will commence before the end of the year, at the convenience of the school.
Project to construct road at Beau Vallon primary school
As per Minister Valentin, the project to construct a road to connect the Beau Vallon primary school to the main road is being handled by the Seychelles Infrastructure Agency (SIA). The authority is determining the best way to move forward with the project, which remains one of the ministry’s top priority.
Renovations to make Au Cap school an inclusive institution
Minister Valentin clarified that the 2024 budget will provide for the construction of ramps to facilitate access to the school.
“There is no need for major construction work, as a lot has been done already”.
“The Au Cap school, in its current state, is sufficiently convenient for the present moment, for the intended project, an inclusive school,” he said.
Inclusive education goes beyond infrastructure, to include culture, interactions and learning modes.
Gradually, the school will adapt to fit the needs of the students.
Preparing students of professional centres for labour market
Courses and programmes offered by professional centres adequately prepare the youths for the labour market, Minister Valentin asserted.
He added that despite the efforts of the institutions to prepare the students, the hurdles they face in securing employment without experience has persisted for numerous years. As such, the minister issued a call to employers to give the youths a chance, and to engage with the ministry regarding the specific skills they require.
Strategy to improve educational attainment
The ministry is supporting schools to improve educational attainment and to improve examination results.
Among the different provisions are support mechanisms to foster differentiated teaching, as well as the establishment of Attainment and curriculum teams within all institutions. Schools will also implement tracking and monitoring of performance.
In the long-term, allowing schools to become autonomous is expected to positively impact on performance, coupled with efforts to modernise the education system.
“Most importantly is the revision to the curriculum. We recognise that much needs to be done, and this is currently underway,” PS Eulentin stated.
Disruptions and delays in resuming third term
Pupils from three public schools were unable to return to school on Monday, due to ongoing construction works.
The institutions remain closed on account of ongoing construction works.
Minister Valentin seized the opportunity to thank parents for being understanding and cooperating with the schools.