30 years of honouring teachers in Seychelles |03 October 2020
Compiled by Gerard Govinden
Teachers’ Day in Seychelles has been celebrated since 1990 when the first special teachers’ promotion week was organised from July 30 to August 4 under the theme ‘Qualified teachers for quality education’.
In fact, it was on October 5, 1994 that the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) first celebrated World Teachers' Day, also known as International Teachers’ Day.
It commemorates the signing of the 1966 Unesco/ILO Recommendation concerning the Status of Teachers, which is a standard-setting instrument that addresses the status and situations of teachers around the world. This recommendation outlines standards relating to education personnel policy, recruitment, and initial training as well as the continuing education of teachers, their employment, and working conditions. World Teachers' Day aims to focus on "appreciating, assessing and improving the educators of the world" and to provide an opportunity to consider issues related to teachers and teaching.
Thirty years down the line since the first special teachers’ promotion week and teachers in Seychelles celebrating the day this year in unfamiliar circumstances it is fitting to recap what activities were organised during the special promotion week which helped to thrust the importance of teachers to society into the limelight.
Activities programmed included the launch of the Seychelles Teachers’ Association and during the same ceremony there was a presentation of awards. Also on sale was a 30-page souvenir magazine costing R5.
The organising committee was chaired by primary schools director Macsuzy Mondon.
A primary aim of the week was to further educate the people as to the role, work and problems of Seychelles’ teachers in the fast-developing society of today, as well as encourage younger people to take up teaching as a career.
The country still suffered from a lack of teachers, Mrs Mondon told Seychelles NATION, adding that it was at the same time necessary to boost the morale of those already in the profession and to give them the “status” they merited in society.
‘Education: Everyone’s role’
“Education is everyone’s role,” Education Minister Simone Testa said in her speech to celebrate Teachers’ Week and which was published in the July 30, 1990 edition of the Seychelles NATION newspaper.
Teachers can’t do much if students do not show motivation, efforts and interest.
“Without discipline we will not go far in life. The education ministry can’t tolerate any in-disciplinary act. We will work on a framework so as to prevent individual or group of students from stopping others to learn.”
She also called on parents to play a more defining role to help discipline their children, adding that “schools are there to serve the community just like the community serves the schools”.
Minister Testa called on young people of Seychelles to join the teaching profession to help impart knowledge to the new generation and build a better future for Seychelles.
Special tributes to teachers
Teachers all over Seychelles were showered with gifts of appreciation on Friday August 3, 1990 as pupils, students, parents and education authorities paid special tributes to them in honour of Teachers’ Day.
The teachers were sung to, listened to poems written in their honour and had cakes, tea, lemonade and even lunch served to them by their pupils, and students, helped by parents. Every teacher in the country received a gift from the Ministry of Education at celebrations held in all schools.
The celebrations organised by the parent-teacher association as part of the celebrations of the teachers’ promotion week, also included special religious masses, dances, plays, competitions and exhibitions, all in honour of the work teachers do to educate the citizens and leaders of tomorrow.
On Saturday August 4, 1990, the Seychelles Teachers Association was launched within the grounds of the Ministry of Education, Mont Fleuri, and there was also a dinner dance at the Plantation Club hotel.
During the launch of the Seychelles Teachers’ Association, President France Albert Rene appealed to young Seychellois to consider making teaching a career.
He said this would fill the gap created by the shortage of teachers which stood in the way of further achievements of the islands’ educational system.
“Even if a lot has been achieved in the education field, there is still a lot to be done. To achieve more Seychelles needs more teachers,” Mr Rene said.
He added that new entrants to the profession would bring “sparkle, freshness of approach and new energy” which were crucial to keeping the education system alive.
He announced that the government had recently approved a revised scheme of service for teachers to provide them with more incentives.
“Our positive attitude towards work is often undercut by material considerations such as promotion, a bulge in the pay-packet and so on,” he added.
President Rene added that while the government had tried to ensure that teachers were adequately rewarded and that no one chosen to mould the lives of the country’s new generations would ever be “harassed” by material need, it was also worth realising that “no amount of pay ever made a good soldier, a good teacher, a good artist or a good workman”.
In making his appeal to young Seychellois to take up teaching, President Rene said: “Allow me to briefly paint a realistic picture of this glamorous job. It is difficult to be a teacher today as it is difficult to be a lawyer, doctor or engineer.”
He also reminded everyone that education was “a search for excellence in which everyone participates. All members of the community are involved in education”.
“Every teacher, employer, parent and child must recognise that their individual and collective welfare and the welfare of those yet to be born rests upon the existence of a dynamic, accessible and effective education system.”
STA to promote teaching as a ‘noble’ career
The Seychelles Teachers’ Association was primarily aimed at promoting teaching as a “noble” profession, said its first chairperson Christian Cafrine.
He added that the association’s activities would be geared towards promoting the role of teachers in the development of the country in general, especially its education system.
It concentrated on the professional development of teachers.
“One of the things we intend doing is to help teachers develop themselves more, not only in the sense of upgrading through training, but also through activities which we, teachers, could organise,” said Mr Cafrine.
The 13-member STA was independent from the Ministry of Education but had links with it.
Education Minister Simone Testa noted that the STA will also “permit a ferment of ideas and … be a forum for their exchange”.
Every reason to be proud
Marthe Marie had every reason to be proud on Saturday August 4, 1990 during launch of the Seychelles Teachers Association and the dinner dance at the Plantation Club hotel. It was because on that day she led six of Seychelles’ longest serving teachers in receiving awards from their fellow Seychellois as tokens of appreciation for their noble service in nurturing future citizens of the country.
Having clocked 50 years of service, Mrs Marie of Les Mamelles school won a gold award and a return ticket to Europe donated by Air Seychelles. Yvonne Choppy, who was then the longest serving head teacher after having clocked 36 years, also won a gold award and a return ticket to Europe. It was President Rene who gave out the awards.
Silver awards were presented to four other teachers who had served for more than 40 years. They were Simone Arnephy (45 years), Edmea Renaud (44 years), Donald Talma (42 years) and Mireille Thelermont (41 years). They each received return tickets to Singapore donated by Air Seychelles. The awards were presented by Education Minister Simone Testa.
Teachers from various other schools who had served for more than 25 years were given certificates presented by principal secretary Patrick Pillay.