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Ministry of Education meets school council chairpersons | 10 February 2020

Ministry of Education meets school council chairpersons

The meeting in progress (Photo: Thomas Meriton)

New policies, efforts to attract more persons to the teaching profession and the powers of school councils, were but some of the topics on the agenda during the first school council chairpersons’ meeting for this year, held at the Site auditorium, on Saturday morning.

Chaired by the Minister for Education and Human Resource Development Jeanne Simeon and other high-ranking officials from the ministry, the meet was an opportunity to discuss the new policies that the ministry is reviewing, namely, the teenage pregnancy policy which provides guidelines when a student falls pregnant during her schooling years as well as the mobile phone policy, which seeks to review the use of gadgets that can possibly be a distraction to students in schools, such as tablets and smart phones.

To commence the meet, Minister Simeon thanked the school council members for their hard work and dedication over the past year, and said it is necessary for school councils to work together with the ministry to bring about a positive change in public schools.

“You have been tasked with sharing the responsibility of education of our Seychellois children along with us, and together we will forge the path. The path needs to bring us towards a change and a difference, we need to see the difference in our schools, a change in our schools, and that is our responsibility, to bring about the positive change for our community. We are counting on you,” Minister Simeon said.

Minister Simeon further noted that school councils are in line with the chosen motto for education, ‘education is a shared responsibility’, urging Councils to be pro-active and to draw up action plans for their schools to be discussed in future meetings, and to work towards improving academic performance at their respective schools by analysing examination results, which Minister Simeon noted she is unhappy with, on account that it remained largely the same as previous years.

Despite reviewing the policy on the use of technology in schools, principal secretary for education Odile de Comarmond reiterated the ministry’s efforts to incorporate technology into the school curriculum as a learning aid.

“We have a renaissance programme to promote reading through technology and this year, we will also have a programme for mathematics also through technology so definitely, we are looking at improving the way technology is used in learning,” the PS said.

“We are also reviewing the aspiring teachers’ programme where we are placing more emphasis on the youths that have teaching at heart. For instance, aspiring teachers clubs in secondary schools and SITE to come onboard and devise programmes to encapsulate these youths and keep their aspirations to become teachers. There are also other strategies such as the training we recently had for teacher assistants who show that they have the ability. We are looking into how we can support them, and give them additional support so they can acquire the qualifications that they lack and which will permit them to become teachers and then replace teachers,” Dr de Comarmond said of the efforts to attract more persons to join the profession.

During the meet, the chairpersons also proposed and put forth some suggestions including more support for teachers to hold after-hour classes for subjects in which students are struggling, more visibility for school councils and for them to become more active and to reach out to parents and the public.

School councils comprise head teachers, members of the Parent-Teacher association, teachers, representatives of parents and representatives of educators and their main function is to oversee and govern their respective schools.

Speaking of the function of school councils, chairman of the Perseverance school council Egbert Vidot said it is necessary since as from this year, schools will be autonomous.

“Schools are yet to become fully autonomous but gradually, they will and this started this year. Now the frameworks are in place and all schools have a council whose role is mainly oversight, governing the school, budgeting and the day-to-day running of the school, teaching and learning and support as well, how as parents we can better support the schools,” he said.

 

Laura Pillay

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