Education Review January 2020-December 2020 | 31 December 2020
A year full of ‘new normal’
If 2019 was a year full of challenges for the Ministry of Education, 2020 is a year qualified as “going out of the comfort zone and into new normal”.
Covid-19 and its impact
On January 20, the school year started for all public schools. No major issues were noted. Then Seychelles registered the first Covid-19 cases in March forcing all public and private schools to close their doors, initially for 14 days. Immediately the ministry had to work on a contingency plan to allow students to continue their studies at home. Parents were asked to pick up materials from school to ensure continued learning at home. The private schools – International School of Seychelles, Ecole Française des Seychelles and Independent School ‒ immediately shifted to online learning and that was quite a success.
All schools resumed during the third week of May under the new normal. All schools had to put in place new standards of operations and three measures were put in place in all schools – vigilance, social distancing and hygiene. The opening hours of government schools had to change from 7.45am to 2.30pm to 8.40am to 2.30pm to accommodate for the proper sanitary measures to take place.
All schools successfully implemented public health guidelines for the re-opening and normal functioning, during the Covid-19 pandemic and for this hats off to all the personnel of the different schools for having assured the smooth running of these institutions.
Financial help from government for children attending day care
In his state-of-the-nation address in February, President Danny Faure stated that as from April 2020, all parents whose children are cared for by registered child minding or day care services would receive a financial assistance of R750.
Implementation of remedial work at island schools
Numerous projects were undertaken during the first half of 2020. At Grand Anse Praslin secondary, furniture was procured. Electricity cables have been laid and proposed laboratory pipework and fittings have been completed. On La Digue, renovation works were undertaken on S1, S3, S4 and S5 blocks, resource room, staff room, art room and socio-economic building. Labs at all secondary schools, except for La Digue, have been upgraded.
Indian Grant Projects: Under theIndian Grant, there were major renovations at five schools ‒ Anse Boileau secondary; Plaisance primary; Mont Fleuri secondary; English River secondary and Grand Anse Praslin primary.
Implementation of the Ministry's Strategic Plan 2018-2022: The MTS steering committee and the performance programme based budgeting committee are in place. Divisions have developed their implementation action plans in line with the MTS 2018-2022 and in line with the Performance Monitoring and Evaluation framework.
Roles and functions have been reviewed. The composition of school council is being done in line with S.I 65 of 2010. New council members have been appointed as per the regulations. All schools now have their councils up and running. In February, Minister Jeanne Siméon met with the school council chairpersons and in November the newly appointed minister, Dr Justin Valentin, met with head teachers and council chairpersons. 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 headquarters in a different relationship with the schools and in doing so, I will capitalise on existing policies to strengthen school-based support structure,” said Minister Valentin.
Teacher management policy: The policy received Cabinet approval on July 29, 2020 for implementation in 2021. It aims to standardise and professionalise the teaching profession.
Policy for grade repetition and acceleration: The policy for grade repetition and acceleration has been approved and is being implemented.
School governance: The mandate and functions for the establishment of the school governance structure has been approved. Each personnel has been issued with their approved terms of reference.
2020 has also brought changes in the way the schools/institutions hold the graduation ceremonies. Bearing in mind the new norms as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, the ministry managed to conduct all graduation ceremonies. Students had limited mingling after the ceremony and only one parent could attend the ceremony in most cases. Each graduate went home with their certificates/prizes in hand to celebrate.
Education terms and conditions of contractual obligations
The Education (Terms and Conditions of Contractual Obligations) regulations 2019 was gazetted in November 2019. This is a robust contract between parents and the schools. Sensitization of all school leaders, parents, students and teachers are in progress.
Increase in children's competencies in pre-literacy and pre-numeracy
There has been an improvement in pupils' competencies in pre-literacy and pre-numeracy at the end of the second year crèche 2019, compared to 2018. Crèche profiles have been well institutionalised and are being used effectively to inform instructional practices.
General education and skills development pathways
The approved, endorsed programmes of study for general education and skills development pathways, comprising English, French, Mathematics, Science and Technical & Enterprise are now being implemented in schools.
Tertiary Education Act of 2011 (TEA): The Tertiary Education Act of 2011 has been reviewed. Recommendations supported by concerned stakeholders have been implemented. Cabinet has approved the revised Tertiary Education Act of 2011.
Review of the regulatory framework of the (SQA Act and NQF): The draft reviewed SQA Act was presented to Cabinet at its meeting of April 9, 2020 and was approved subject to the points raised. It will be the enactment of a new Seychelles Qualifications Authority Bill.
Accreditation of the Seychelles Institute of Art and Design (SIAD): SIAD was awarded full accreditation status in June 2020. It joins UniSey; Seychelles Maritime Academy (SMA), National Institute of Health and Social Studies (NIHSS) and Seychelles Business Studies Academy (SBSA), as fully accredited, for a period of five years.
Change of minister
In November 2020, a new Minister of Education, Dr Justin Valentin, was appointed. He was, until his ministerial appointment, the vice-chancellor of the University of Seychelles. As soon as he took office, he urged 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.
Minister Valentin said he will try to significantly improve students’ performances in all aspects and remarkably improve disciplinary behaviour across the system, while, right from the outset, he will push forward the agenda of school autonomy.
He visited the schools ‒ primary and secondary ‒ as well as post-secondary institutions and other educational agencies. Minister Valentin explained that he 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 side-line as an option.
New UniSey vice-chancellor
To end the year 2020, Joëlle Perreau was appointed the new UniSey vice-chancellor and Professor Dennis Hardy is the new chairperson of the UniSey council. Miss Perreau becomes the fifth vice-chancellor of the University of Seychelles (UniSey) and succeeds Justin Valentin who was named Minister for Education in the new Cabinet of President Wavel Ramkalawan’s administration.
Compiled by Vidya Gappy