Launch of new academic year 2022

‘All hands on deck to ensure that no one is left behind’

By Roland Duval

Teachers should use all possible means to reach out to their pupils and students, ensuring that no one is left behind academically during the Covid-19 pandemic, Minister for Education Justin Valentin has urged.

He made the statement yesterday during a press conference to give details on the launch of the new school term for 2022.

Minister Valentin said the education system has remained survivor of the Covid-19 pandemic, while it is the everyday duty of the educators to come up with new methods of teaching to absorb the maximum percentage of learners, thus maintaining progress throughout the process.

Also present at yesterday’s press conference were principal secretary for Education Sector Development John Lesperance, director of education for resource development Dr Linda Barallon, and also the director for health, safety and risk management within the Ministry of Education Regina Prosper.

To begin the new academic year, Ms Prosper explained that most decisions were taken according to the country’s actual health situation, in conjunction with other partners, including the Ministry of Health and other stakeholders.

She said at the moment, 895 teachers have been fully vaccinated (including booster jab), while 86 have tested positive for Covid-19, with 78 in quarantine.

As for the students, 84 have tested positive for Covid-19, with 148 in quarantine.

Regarding vaccinated students, in state schools, 66 percent from Mahé have been vaccinated, while 65 percent and 57 percent from Praslin and La Digue respectively have been vaccinated.

From private schools, 72 percent of students have been vaccinated, while 55 percent of students from the tertiary education institutions have received their jabs.

Ms Proper noted that it is important for all students to take their jab as it will help the ministry to come up with a decision regarding the modality for in-person learning.

She also added that the ministry is still working in collaboration with the department of health regarding the standard operating procedure (SOPs) in place which is being reviewed by all head teachers to better adapt to their respective school environment.

Regarding access to cheaper and affordable internet, Minister Valentin said discussion is still ongoing with local telecommunication providers to come up with an understanding regarding the issue, while some schools have individually took the initiative to move forward and negotiate for a better deal with the providers.

In terms of staffing for 2022, Minister Valentin noted that each school made their necessary plans and adjustments based on the resources allocated, while staff who left the profession but have expressed their wishes to come back and give a helping hand have already been absorbed.

As for overseas recruitment, Minister Valentin said the process is presently on hold based on the various global sanitary contexts.

Based on the shortage of teachers, Minister Valentin suggested several variables to be adopted, including cutting down on the number of weekly teaching periods.

Regarding the circulating post on social media, stating the reason for the delay of school opening being the resignation of 25 teachers within 24 hours at the beginning of the year, Minister Valentin explained that is just a rumour and that the ministry has not registered, or is not aware of such happening.

From December to date, based on retirement, resignation and termination, 21 primary teachers have left the profession, while only six at secondary level have left.

As new incentives, Minister Valentin said the Ministry of Education will further promote the ‘Teachers voice Initiative’ which provide teachers with a forum to engage directly with the headquarters at the ministry to express their concerns and propose solutions to enhance learning and teaching.

The forum consists of one teacher representative selected from each public primary and secondary schools, as well as a representative from each tertiary institution. These teachers’ representatives are expected to meet with the executive team of the Ministry of Education each month, based on their region.

Another initiative to be encouraged in 2022 is the promotion of school autonomy, allowing them to take decisions, instead of relying on the headquarters.

Especially in that difficult moment, Minister Valentin explained that every school has its specificity, with various challenges.

This, the education minister said calls for the schools concerned to deal with the problem accordingly, while the ministry provides support.

Source: Seychelles Nation