Minister Valentin meets with head teachers and council chairpersons |28 November 2020
A grip on the matter and the drive to chart a course of actions
“The drive to improve performance and behaviour may require significant changes in our approaches to doing things, and if it necessitates changes in functions and roles, we will have no choice.”
The Minister for Education Dr Justin Valentin made the statement while addressing a group of school council chairpersons and head teachers who took part in workshops yesterday at the auditorium of the Seychelles Institute of Teacher Education (Site) to review progress made, consider the external perspectives on key aspects of school governance, and examine practical operational dimensions of school councils.
The main purpose of this half-day workshop was to focal point on the key function of head teachers in relation to school governance; examine the central importance of the relationship between the head teacher and the chairperson of the school council.
Yesterday’s session was also the first opportunity for Dr Valentin to meet with school leaders since assuming the post of minister last month.
It was also the opportunity to go through the draft delineation of responsibilities for human resources administration.
The Minister for Education began by urging everyone involved in the local education system to renew their commitment to working for the ministry and give this great country the best possible deal.
Acknowledging that there were many practices or ideas which could have been addressed differently for better results, he is therefore bringing into the hot seat lessons drawn from his own professional experience and from outcomes of deep discussions which he had with several people who have education at heart.
Outlining his priorities as the minister, Dr Valentin said firstly he will seek to significantly improve students’ performances in all aspects and remarkably improve disciplinary behaviour across the system, while secondly, right from the outset, he will push forward the agenda of school autonomy.
Regarding that, Dr Valentin said he will strive to give head teachers and PC leaders along with their boards and councils, full power and control over their schools and institutions.
“I will seek to reposition the head quarters in a different relationship with the schools and in doing so, I will capitalise on existing policies to strengthen school-based support structure.
School-based subject leaders and curriculum leaders will have a central role in leading their respective subject at their school,” explained Dr Valentin who further added that they will renovate and strengthen structures that confront and deal with inappropriate behaviour.
“We will model each and every school against critical performance benchmark and ultimately, we will make learning experiences interesting and worthwhile,” he added.
Still with regard to school autonomy, the education minister said they will rely on councils and boards to develop structures that get school community, including leadership, teachers and learners to be accountable, while several measures are being taken to ensure that responsibilities of schools and that of officials from the headquarters are clearly delineated.
“Time has come for schools to lessen their dependence on the headquarters and headquarters to lessen their control on school, while standards will be monitored differently,” added Dr Valentin.
The minister’s third priority is technology at the core of education development, and as third priority, he is going to influence everybody to fully embrace technology so that the Ministry of Education and its respective institutions become technology enabled institutions.
“Teaching has evolved tremendously; learning has taken new directions; school leadership and administration are imposing new demand such that the application of technology in schools is becoming inevitable. I am hereby calling on schools to be proactive, unlock the labs and give teaching a new life,” added Dr Valentin.
He also explained that his vision of this new school call for school-based reform and prerequisite to successful reform is teacher learning. In this regard, he said he may use his own professional expertise to spearhead pedagogical change.
To conclude, Dr Valentin echoed the message of President Ramkalawan, stating that every worker must address their duties with full seriousness and sincerity and operate as if they were operating our own business.
This simply means, he said, embrace our duties with pride, honesty and hard work and let us address public service with great honesty, while removing politics in it and work without favour or ill-will.
“Every effort counts and we are together on this venture and we must win together.
“My dear colleagues, I believe in high standard and I know that you too share this vision of high standard. At this point of my address can we now agree unanimously to hypothetically raise the bar to at least three levels above the current one,” he ended.