Education Minister Dr Justin Valentin continues with visit | 13 November 2020
Emphasises on discipline in schools, use of technology for better learning
High on the agenda of the new minister for education, Dr Justin Valentin, is to improve discipline in schools, enhance the use of technology for better learning and raise public school performances.
Minister Valentin listed out his priorities for the education sector yesterday, following his second round of visits to re-familiarise himself with the ministry he left over seven years ago.
In yesterday’s visit, the minister toured some sections at the headquarters of the Ministry of Education, the Institute of Early Childhood Development (IECD), Agency for National Human Resource Development (ANHRD) and Seychelles Qualifications Authority (SQA).
The minister noted it was important for him to undertake these visits to identify the key issues and challenges that the Ministry of Education and other institutions are faced with.
At the ministry headquarters, Minister Valentin noted the dilapidated state of the building which he said should be urgently dealt with.
“The most evident constraint is the state of the headquarters. This building is completely run down and, personally, it is not a place fit for people to work in. We will have to see how we can resolve this issue; renovate it or move somewhere else but either way we have to do something about the building,” said Minister Valentin.
The building which houses the Ministry of Education is over 60 years old, serving as the Regina Mundi Convent girls’ school from 1957 up to the early 1980s. Although time has passed, the brick, rocks and mortar that define the building have remained unchanged and has brought with it various constraints when it comes to modern office functionality.
The visit was also an opportunity for Minister Valentin to speak of his priorities for the education sector.
“I want to bring two main principles: improve discipline and ensure that schools perform, not only in academic subjects but also technical and vocational aspects.”
“I have noticed that there is no subject and curriculum leadership, and we have to work towards putting these in place to improve learning,” said Minister Valentin.
Additionally, Minister Valentin wants to see more tech-savvy classrooms and stated that public schools already have the necessary tools to make this happen.
“Technology should become a tool for education[…]if we do not embrace technology in education and our daily lives we will not be able to attain our objectives,” he said, adding that the internet is the greatest gift to mankind and should not be left on the sideline as an option.
In regards to whether the ministry will continue on with plans to construct a vocational school, Minister Valentin stated that this will undergo re-consideration.
“The vocational school forms part of our conversation but I have not received all the details about it. But if I am able to be convinced that it will be a good addition, of course we will push it forward. But more has to be known first.”
Minister Valentin voiced his concerns about the curriculum division that no longer exists which needs to be remediated at the soonest.
Reforms at the ministry of education are expected, the minister acknowledged.
“If there are readjustments to be made, then they will be made. This will not involve people losing their jobs but we want to give the workforce there new energy, so it will be necessary for us to move people. It is often good to shake things up and remove people from their comfort zones.”
“I want to see all of the gaps filled by January 2021,” he affirmed.
On the visit, the minister described IECD’s ongoing and new initiatives as being in “good hands”.
Minister Valentin also commented on the various challenges at ANHRD that “need to considered” although he noted the willingness for the staff to renew their commitments to work together with the ministry.
At the SQA office, which moved from the ministry headquarters to the Ebrahim Building in September, Minister Valentin said that he was apprised of their programmes.
“I am prepared to support all of these institutions and agencies to ensure that their main objectives are attained with success,” Minister Valentin concluded.
The accompanying photographs show some highlights of Minister Valentin’s re-familiarisation visit to the education ministry.
Photos: Jude Morel