Commonwealth of Learning |21 February 2023
Seychelles hosts Regional Focal Points meeting
By Patsy Canaya
Commonwealth-member countries from Africa and Europe, are meeting at the Savoy Seychelles Resort and Spa, Beau Vallon, since yesterday to outline their area of priorities to the Commonwealth of Learning, (COL), an inter-governmental organisation that promotes learning for sustainable development.
The two-day Regional Focal Points meeting, which was officially launched by the Seychelles Minister for Education, Dr Justin Valentin, during a short ceremony yesterday morning, brings together the 20-member countries from the African continent and two European countries namely Malta and Cyprus.
In his address to the delegates, who are mostly from ministries of education, Minister Valentin highlighted the various education programmes under way in the Seychelles and how they relate to COL.
He said that the Ministry of Education has embarked on an education transformation agenda, where its vision is aligned to that of the United Nations organisation, which is urging ministries of education across the world to give this generation a more realistic package.
“Schools as the centre of change are being transformed to be more autonomous and the teachers and the leaders are being stimulated to view professional development as a routine activity. As we engage into this transformation agenda, we are also looking at strategies, to attract, gain and retain teachers,” said Minister Valentin.
He said the COL family would be invaluable partners in this endeavour and urged the members to continue to develop and share materials, and exchange expertise.
He stated that COL understands the requirement of small states and therefore remains a faithful contributor towards Seychelles’ growth.
“The mere fact that COL remains relevant is its inclination of its major aims on education, training and skills, and its strategic actions on technology and sustainability. For us in the Seychelles, and I believe for many other smaller states, we will be delighted to continue to have the companionship of COL as we embark on our transformation agenda. When elsewhere organisations are assessing their worthiness and significance, we in the small states of the commonwealth, are truly applauding the existence of COL,” added the minister.
It should be noted that the regional meeting is taking place in Seychelles for the first time.
The principal secretary for Education Sector Development in the Ministry of Education, John Lesperance, said Seychelles has benefitted a lot from COL including financial resources to develop its ICT, as well as teacher training for both primary and secondary teachers at the Seychelles Institute for Teacher Education.
“One of their officials will now remain behind after the meeting to see how they could assist us to develop our activities for the Technical and Vocational Education and Training school, (TVET),” said Mr Lesperance.
He added that Seychelles wanted the Commonwealth’s reassurance that it will continue to support the country.
The president and chief executive of the Commonwealth of Learning, Professor Asha Kanwar, said the meeting, which ends today, has several objectives, including to share the elements of the COL Strategic Plan 2021-2027 and discuss how the outcomes and impact will be evaluated as well as identify 3-5 national priorities in education and skills development and discuss how COL can address these.
Professor Kanwar described Seychelles as an active participant in many of the COL programmes.
“Seychelles has developed with COL support an ICT in education policy which supports open education resources, which is a very important means of bringing quality education at low cost for our students,” said the professor, adding the country can benefit more in teacher education, ICT integration as well as skills development.
COL has also shared a report of its activities in each respective countries to give the delegates an idea what is happening in each country and to share how they can benefit more from the organisation.
She said the Regional Focal Points meeting will allow the delegates to also talk about their priorities in line with COL’s six-year strategic plan.
“When we develop our annual implementation plan for the following year, these priorities will be taken into account and we will help address them in a phased manner,” said Professor Kanwar.
COL, which is based in Vancouver Canada, with a regional office in Delhi, India, promotes education and training through the use of distance learning and technologies in the 56 member states of the Commonwealth.