Seychellois students take part in virtual international debate | 07 July 2020
Four students from Seychelles – two from primary and two from secondary schools – for the first time yesterday took part in a virtual international debate.
The debate under the theme ‘Partner Power’ took place at the headquarters of the Ministry of Education and Human Resource Development, Mont Fleuri.
Representing Seychelles were Dorianne Bristol (Mont Fleuri primary) and Shammah Julienne (Baie Ste Anne primary) who debated on ‘Our Vision: Partnership for a sustainable future’. Julienne took part in the debate at the Baie Ste Anne primary school.
Whitney Padayachy (English River secondary) and Vanshika Parinkh (International School Seychelles) debated on ‘To achieve the UN SDG’S, global partnerships are more important than local ones’.
Each student was placed in two different groups which broke down the theme and debated its pros and cons, meaning that none of the Seychellois students were in the same group.
“Ahead of the competition the students were prepared by Trust for Sustainable Living (TSL) to familiarise themselves with the theme as well as their team members.
Once the debate over, they will be ranked internationally by TSL. In the past Seychelles has never been ranked, however this year things may be different.
A total of 500 students and teachers from 80 countries took part in the event. Each country taking part in the debates was represented by four student debaters – two primary and two secondary – with all other students taking part as non-debating students.
The debate had been organised by TSL, a global education charity working for a sustainable future in collaboration with the education ministry. Every year, TSL hosts the international schools debate and essay competition. The event offers an opportunity for students and teachers worldwide to connect with influential leaders and sustainability experts, and explore pathways for achieving the United Nations (UN) sustainable development goals.
Yesterday’s debate kicked off at exactly 12 noon and it began with a short video by President Danny Faure who stated that the youths are our planet’s future custodians and he is proud to see the progress they are making towards sustainable living.
“The right of your generation to inherit a healthy planet is an important responsibility for all of us, and my address today serves as my commitment, to you, to continue advocating for climate action and sustainable development,” continued President Faure.
The head of state added that Seychelles has always recognised that development opportunities come with responsibility.
“We understood that protecting our environment whilst placing our people at the centre of development is not just the right thing to do, but the necessary thing to do. As a champion of the oceans, we have pioneered the concept of the blue economy – a concept geared towards climate-smart sustainable development. Seychelles is committed to maintaining the proper management and sustainable development of its marine resources stretched out over a vast exclusive economic zone six times the size of the United Kingdom, while also bolstering security in that space and its surroundings. Earlier this year, we committed an area the size of Germany to marine protection, and we remain committed to protecting biodiversity and building climate resilience,” President Faure stated.
“This year’s theme, ‘Partner Power’, resonates with our way of being and of doing. As I said at the 2019 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals Summit: “Governance is the key means of implementation of the SDGs but no country stands alone. Partnerships are required, especially taking into account the inherent challenges experienced by small islands developing states,” said President Faure.
He continued by saying that partnerships are critical. “Partnerships are what link people and countries. Partnerships are what determine the history and the future of our wellbeing and security. Partnerships, local or international, lies at the core of our development, whether we are big or small.”
President Faure added that the COVID-19 pandemic is a clear illustration of our interdependence and of the importance of partnerships. The sudden outbreak of this pandemic has sent shockwaves disrupting not only our health systems but also the socio-economic development of our countries. As each country fights to get back to a post-COVID 19 normality and socio-economic stability, we must work together to build resilience against the pandemic and nurture a sustainable future, he pointed out.
“This year’s TSL theme ‘Partner Power’ therefore comes at a critical time when our world is being challenged by an unprecedented global crisis, forcing us all to take a step back, regroup and consider how we can work together to overcome our challenges; and secure the protection and safety of our peoples, of our families and of our planet.
“Only by working together can we find global solutions to global challenges. I look forward to hearing about Your Vision for a Sustainable Future,” the President ended.
Due to the fact that this year’s debate was held online more schools were able to take part as they do not have to pay high travel costs, there are no visa restrictions, thus reducing the carbon footprint of the event.
For her part, Lynndina Christine Essack, the national coordinator for TSL, said in order to qualify for the debate students must enter the essay competition on a given theme chosen by TSL that reflects on what they stand for. Based on these results finalists are then invited to take part in the debate.
“The students did really well and students were able to participate actively,” said Ms Essack.
For their participation in the essay competition, Dorianne Bristol was ranked third overall and Shammah Julienne received best individual prize. Both students described their experience as positive and very educational as they had to do a lot of research. They also added that they made new friends from other countries.