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In Seychelles, It Takes A Community To Educate A Child

01 February 2011 |

The recent introduction of school councils and the call for more community involvement in school activities have brought about a new dynamism at all levels of the education system, President James Michel has said.
"The reforms being carried out give people the hope and confidence that there will be an improvement in the quality of education in the coming years," he added.

"All the mechanisms and structures are in place, and it remains for the Ministry of Education and its partners to work hard to achieve the required objectives."

He stressed that the autonomy now being introduced into the school system is very important.

"I personally believe greatly in empowering our community, in the sense of belonging and ownership, as these inspire people and give them the pride to play their part," said Mr Michel, who was speaking during his first En Moman Avek Prezidan interview of this year, aired on SBC TV at the weekend.

He said the introduction of school councils will make it possible for more people - individuals and agencies in the community - to come together to give more support to headteachers and teachers in better managing their schools.

"This is the sense of ownership and belonging that will help our schools to move forward," said the President.

After the start of the first school term for this year, there is great expectation of improvements in the education system. In line with reforms carried out last year, schools are becoming more independent, and the new school councils aim to involve the community more in school activities.

Mr Michel further stressed that "a school on its own cannot transform a society, though it can give the best education to students".

"We have to bear in mind that education begins at home in the family, from when a child is born to the way he is brought up with the necessary living values instilled in him. Going to school is only a continuation and reinforcement of the education received at home," he said.

He noted that now, with the community's greater involvement in the way schools are run, it is important to intensify efforts to get more parents together in the exercise and explain to them the importance of their role in educating their children.

Mr Michel said when a whole community is made to take responsibility to educate its children and it does it well, "I believe we have a future which is secured".

"It takes a village to educate a child, as an African proverb says, but here in Seychelles I would say it takes a community to educate a child."

To ensure that all children go to school, the government has again dedicated a considerable sum of money, and the Children's Fund has also added to the sum each school receives to ensure the best welfare for more vulnerable children.

"Parents should no longer have any excuse not to send their children to school because there are means to help all pupils," said the President.

He said the Ministry of Education is responsible for ensuring that structures are in place to eliminate and prevent any abuse of the system. But he stressed that parents have to take their responsibility seriously and play their role as parents. They should not deprive their children of what they need to go to school when they have the means to provide for them.

"Children should not be punished because of their parents, children's innocence should be preserved," said Mr Michel, adding that he will always fight relentlessly against those who abuse children.

He said concerned authorities will, through the social services, deal with those parents concerned.

"I believe the Ministry of Education is very much aware of the need to have the necessary structures put in place to ensure the fund for vulnerable children is used properly for the benefit of the children who need it the most," he added.

Commenting on the increase in the fund for vulnerable children, Mr Michel said this is the fruit of the economic reform success.

"After two years of reforms, the country is in a position to share the success, and this is being done at different levels. A first group to receive such help are the children."

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