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Education ministry calls for solidarity to enhance teaching and learning |20 January 2024

Education ministry calls for solidarity to enhance teaching and learning

The press conference: (l to r) Mr Arnephy, PS Eulentin, Minister Valentin and PS Lesperance (Photo: Joena Meme)

 Initiates anti-bullying campaign in all schools


The new academic year for state schools gets under way on Monday, January 22, 2024, under a new theme; ‘Let us all work together in the spirit of solidarity to enhance teaching and learning’.

In a one-hour press conference held yesterday afternoon at the ministry’s headquarters in Mont Fleuri, the Minister for Education, Dr Justin Valentin, accompanied by principal secretary for Education Services, Merna Eulentin, principal secretary for Education Sector Development, John Lesperance, and director general for the Institutional Support Services Division, Bernard Arnephy, addressed some upcoming projects and changes that will see a shift in the way of education in Seychelles.

When elaborating on the theme for the academic year, Dr Valentin said the ministry wanted to see solidarity not only among the students, parents and the management team, but among the teachers as well.

The minister also addressed one of the biggest challenges which was the persistent issue of bullying and anti-social behaviour, which the minister said he hopes will be resolved with the launch on Monday of a new campaign titled ‘Stop bullying and Anti-Social behaviour in and around school’.

“We want to put emphasis on the fact that the children participate in peace and in security at school,” stated Minister Valentin.

The strategy behind the campaign is to find one that does not come from headquarters, explained the minister. It has to come from an institutional level as they each have their own type of bullying, said the minister. “I want the institutions to make this their primary focus. If they find that they cannot find a solution, then we can intervene.”

Dr Valentin conveyed that he has not seen the students themselves sit down and talk about bullying and it is important to give the subject the prominence it deserves.

As a follow up, the minister gave an update on the incident that happened at Port Glaud primary school stating that the first phase of the investigation has started and a decision has been reached. The panel that was conducting the investigation has also made a recommendation. The head teacher has been moved to another section of the Ministry of Education. In regards to the student, the officials were yet to sit down with him, said the minister.

Another important topic at hand was the changes in leaderships. For Beau Vallon primary, the new head teacher is Sylvia Confiance while Julianna Agathine has been moved to La Rosière primary. Daniella Vidot is the new director at the Pointe Larue primary, while Takamaka primary will be led by Sanaj Payet.

Perseverance primary school is also seeing a change in leadership with Sir Fred Azemia at the helm. Marie-May Leon heads the School for the Exceptional Child and Emmelyn Riaze is at Port Glaud primary.

There are also a few changes among deputy heads and language coordinators and some teachers have been promoted to the posts of language or studies coordinators. 

PS Eulentin noted that the committee which oversees the governance and staffing of schools is putting emphasis on the hiring of Seychellois applicants to occupy the places of management. “We want to encourage them,” she stated.

In regards to the delay in the movement of staff and students, the minister concurred that there was a provisional plan in place. However, the plan is not divulged early to prevent the constant last minute changes that might happen two weeks prior. Therefore, in a traditional sense, the teachers can move in the last week before the beginning of the year.

“We do not do any drastic situations to take someone out from where they are to put them somewhere completely different. The team that makes the changes has no malice because sometimes teachers may think that we are doing it to punish them. It is not the case, it is a simple adjustment,” explained the minister, adding the moves are done with the teachers’ interests at heart.

On the issue of teacher shortage, Minister Valentin said it will always remain an issue but there needs to be a strategy to deal with it. However, he made it clear that this does not mean there are not enough teachers to complete the mission.The ministry was short of 30 teachers, according to him, but from a school’s perspective, it was not alarming.

“When we look at it, by each primary school, there are two or three missing teachers. This puts a lot of pressure on other teachers, this is why I say we need to stand in solidarity but the schools themselves look for solutions.”

Meanwhile, a local delegation left for Zambia recently for recruitment and it is expected that at the end of the first term, there will be around 38 teachers to fill in the gap. He launched an appeal to the locals who have the capacity to teach to join the profession.

Another initiative the ministry hopes to implement is a new TVET model for S4-S5 students. This new vocational system will put a strong emphasis on school-based centres of the secondary education structure within the public schools. The initial plan was to turn the Perseverance secondary school into a vocational and technical school, but this was later overturned after the government reviewed the modality.

A more realistic modality has been introduced, according to Dr Valentin where the S5 students will continue with their work-based experience, and return to school for one day to do the theory subjects such as technical English, mathematics and French.

As for the S4 students, it will require more preparation as there will be the introduction of a new model, never used in Seychelles, for the first term, said the minister. The pre-vocational programme will have students be exposed to lectures and different professions and organisations. Students will also be in workplaces for two days. The ministry was also working with all secondary schools to build a TVET centre.

The Ministry of Education has also highlighted the need to consolidate inclusive education. This is presently happening at Au Cap primary and Plaisance secondary schools and for now they would be the two main institutions offering inclusive education, including facilitating accessibility of the students.  “We recognise that it will be hard for the Ministry of Education to make it so that every school has accessibility.”

Furthermore, there will be a rethinking of the national curriculum that will complement school programmes. “The students must be exposed to the most realistic and meaningful learning experiences.”

This year will also see the launch of the national campaign against obesity dubbed ‘Stop Obesity’. The campaign initiated by President Wavel Ramkalawan in October last year will be launched on February 8.

With regard to the Seychelles Institute of Technology (SIT), which was affected by the CCCL explosion on December 7, the minister stated he was confident the school will be ready on January 29 to take in students. In the meantime, SIT will be relying on virtual learning and making use of the SIDOL building, which is not used on a daily basis, for its theory classes.


Sunny Esparon

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