Ministry of Education wraps up fruitful leadership seminar |27 March 2023
Announces similar ones in the future
Twenty-five (25) subject leaders from state schools are now better equipped to facilitate change in their classrooms and schools and apply impactful strategies in monitoring teaching and learning.
This comes at the end of a one-day school leadership seminar on Saturday at the headquarters of the Ministry of Education, which culminated with a certificate presentation ceremony.
It was the second group to follow the school leadership seminar, following the first cohort on Friday, which comprised subject coordinators and deputy head teachers from public schools.
The seminar was an initiative of the Malaysia-Seychelles honorary consul, Kabilan Muniandy, as part of his contribution towards the series of reform happening in state schools, in collaboration with the management of SEGI University and Colleges in Malaysia and the Seychelles’ Ministry of Education.
Facilitated by Malaysian professor Maheswari Kandasamy, the session, entitled ‘Leading and facilitating school-based reform and changes for better outcomes’, was aimed at empowering school leaders to keep abreast of new development and practices especially those that have impactful effect on the teachers’ work and the classroom attainment.
Professor Kandamasy explained that for the subject leader on Saturdays, she had designed the seminar to be firstly more curriculum-based, for teachers to understand the huge impact external factors from informal education could have on schooling, the importance of building a strong parent-teacher relationship, as well as proper management of school resources and skills.
She stressed on the functions and skills of management, which includes their planning, organisation, direction and control, and the importance of working as a team.
Speaking to Seychelles NATION, the managing director of SEGI University, Stella Lau Kah Wai, the main partner of the seminar, said their aim was to create awareness and assist educators to ensure teaching was done effectively.
She pointed out that the observation after Covid-19 was that students have lesser attention span and the way they consume knowledge was different, as “they want to be inspired to learn and not told to learn”.
She said it was therefore important to prepare the teachers for the next generation.
“For it to be effective our teachers need to have the knowledge, skills and the tools so that they can go and be effective and have confidence that what they are teaching is relevant because at the end of the day it is the students that matter,” said Mrs Lau Kah Wai.
During the discussion, the subject leaders put forth some challenges they face on a day-to day basis when implementing their strategic plan, which hampered their work. These included limited human resources, lack of school materials, their strategic plan which were at times too bulky, reluctance for some teachers to adapt to change, classroom sizes and setting, pupils’ behaviour, social problems, among others.
Speaking to Seychelles NATION, maths coordinator from Beau Vallon primary school, Sir Daniel Bristol, said it was good to highlight those weaknesses and propose suggestions as to how to rectify them at school level.
He said although they have done several leadership seminars in the past, this one was from a different perspective, allowing him to reflect lengthily on managing and leading at school.
Mr Bristol stated that through the seminar he was also able to compare the system still being used in Malaysia as explained by the professor, to that of Seychelles, which the country is doing away with. One such example was the curriculum.
“Here the ministry is asking us to take ownership of our own curriculum, and providing only programmes, where each school is asked to carry out their programmes, whereas over there they still have their centralised unit which prepares the curriculum and shares it with all schools for implementation,” he explained.
He added that another difference was that the professor was also calling for the school’s management team to take ownership of the school’s resources, which is contrary to what happens on the ground as resources are managed centrally from the ministry.
“There were the comparisons we could make but in terms of strategic plan, yes we have ours with our vision, mission and core values as mentioned. But the implementation could take a while as we have more changes being introduced and with new teachers joining the team, it will be a while before everyone is on the same page,” said Mr Bristol, who also advised that schools should focus on one vision at a time, instead of implementing everything at once.
Zita Joseph, from La Digue crèche, described the session as very useful, especially the constant reminder that as leaders they have to remain focused on their vision for the students and their staff.
“We have to know where we want to take our pupils and what should we impart to them, as well as what we impart to our staff, to ensure they make a difference, especially when we are making changes in schools, because we have people with different mindset. So how do you encourage them to change, and be on board,” said Mrs Joseph.
She also pointed out that the seminar allowed her to ponder on the relevance of what they are teaching.
“Today we are more focused on technology, digital learning while chalk and board have become obsolete. How do we change, and incorporate technology into teaching. We also have academic and vocational students, so how do we ensure that we work with both groups so they excel in their domain, instead of catering only for those who are academically gifted,” she stated.
For his part, in his closing remarks, the Minister for Education, Dr Justin Valentin, thanked the teachers for their active participation stating that school transformation was a teamwork, resting on everyone doing their part, especially the leaders at their respective school “to stimulate the kind of change that we want to happen”.
He also stated that two and a half years into his mandate, he still felt his strategic plan “has not reached the school as it should have been”.
“So what will happen is that we will have to re-look at the way that teachers and the leaders at the school level get to understand the plan,” said Minister Valentin.
He added the seminar was the first in a series of professional development sessions that will be done throughout the year.
Photos by Louis Toussaint
A view of the session on Saturday
A souvenir photograph after the presentation of certificates