Assembly approves budgets for education ministry, SFRSA |12 March 2021
The National Assembly yesterday voted in favour of the budget heads for the Seychelles Fire and Rescue Services Agency (SFRSA) and the Ministry of Education.
The Ministry of Education, which has received one of the largest chunks of the budget with R1,043,293,000, was yesterday represented by its minister Justin Valentin and principal secretaries.
Comparatively, the Ministry of Education received a budget of R894,213,000 in last year’s revised budget and R820,392,000 in 2019.
This year, the Ministry of Education has also been assigned the dedicated fund which used to be managed by the Agency for Social Protection (ASP).
The dedicated fund is a scheme to assist vulnerable children with stationery, school meal, breakfast and uniforms.
Although the education ministry did not receive its ideal budget for this year, Minister Valentin noted that his ministry remains engaged in ensuring that all Seychellois students benefit from at least 11 years of quality, modern education that reflects the age we live in.
He noted that the ministry aspires for most, if not all students, to attain the relevant objectives and targets, and undertake further studies at different tertiary institutions.
“We would have liked to execute the most modern education plan that the country has ever seen, but unfortunately this has been sidelined with the financial situation. Nonetheless, we continue to believe in our vision,” said Minister Valentin.
In this year’s budget, the education ministry has agreed with the finance ministry not to start any new capital projects in 2021 but rather to only complete projects that were already in the works.
However, around R16 million has been put aside to carry out minor projects, and in that line the Ministry of Education has had to re-evaluate its priorities for this year so that it can resolve the most urgent issues first.
Minister Valentin explained that one of the ministry’s greatest challenges, that need to be remediated, is the mismanagement of resources by schools and education institutions.
“Further, I am a huge proponent of evaluations and we have agreed for leaders in education to undertake an evaluation of our performance, especially on how we have made use of our budget in the past. We will have to relook at the audit reports on our ministry, school inspection reports so that we can identify our problems and improve on them,” said Minister Valentin.
In relations to questions about expatriate teachers in the public education system, the panel made note that some of these employees who have not met the ministry’s standards are being sent home.
“In regards to vacancies, we are placing emphasis on Seychellois at present given that expatriates who are not up to standards or whose contracts have not been renewed are going. We are taking Seychellois who we feel meet the criteria,” noted principal secretary Odile De Commarmond.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Education will be able to absorb 68 Seychellois as full-time employees out of a total of 224 participants who were on the now defunct Unemployment Relief Scheme (URS).
They will be employed as teacher assistants, work supervisors, general assistants, librarian, wardens, among others.
“At the training centres we have positions open for 17 persons who can be trained as teachers or assistant teachers,” he added.
Concerns were also raised on the number of houses the ministry rents out, particularly for expatriate workers.
The members of the National Assembly also queried on the schools in their districts, among other issues.
Earlier in the morning, the Seychelles Fire and Rescue Services Agency (SFRSA) saw its R100,249,000 budget approved unanimously by the National Assembly.
This budget is a 45% increase from last year’s, which stood at R68,992,000 in the revised budget.
One of the most significant increments is observed in wages and salaries which jumped from R49,157,000 in 2020 to R51,292,000 in 2021.
Minister for Internal Affairs Roy Fonseka explained that SFRSA is looking to recruit 25 new firefighters to man the Anse Royale fire station, which is expected to open by the end of this year.
The new recruits will need to be trained prior to the opening of the station.
Goods and services also increased from R18,935,000 to R41,462,000 and this again can be mostly attributed to the new fire station in the south-east of Mahé.
SFRSA has budgeted for three new fire trucks totalling R12 million; a heavy duty truck (R7 million), a mini fire truck (R5 million) and a small fire truck(R3 million).
Additionally, R1 million has been put aside to equip the Anse Royale fire station along with R400,000 for a power mat, R150,000 for a fuel dispenser, R800,000 for a portable flood light and 750,000 breathing apparatus.
The National Assembly will continue with its perusal and approval of the 2021 national budget today.