New centre in Seychelles to rehab youth with discipline, social problems

A new centre aimed at rehabilitating youth with disciplinary and social problems will be constructed next year, said a top official of the Ministry of Family Affairs.

The Youth Hope centre will be located at Cap Ternay along the coast of the Port Glaud, a western Mahe district. No details on the cost of the project were given.

The goal of the project is to help young people aged 13 to 15 in great difficulty, young people for whom there were no answers to their problems and who were drifting into anti-social activities, said Linda William-Melanie, the principal secretary of the Department of Social Affairs in the Ministry of Family Affairs on Tuesday.

Melanie said that these young people are in great difficulty having dropped out of the national education system, often engaged in petty crime, drug trafficking. Their families are also in great pain, not knowing how to approach their children and having difficulty in positioning themselves in terms of the authority.

The centre will consist of a day programme and residential programme and is expected to accommodate at least 50 young people on the day programme and some 100 youths on the residential programme.

The project is being done jointly by the ministries of Family Affairs and Education. The Ministry of Education will undertake the day to day programme, which includes the education and vocational part, whereas the Ministry of Family Affairs will run the residential programme. To be admitted on the programme cases will be referred by social workers in the district and by schools.

According to Melanie residential programmes are becoming more and more appropriate to deal with children with social problems.

She added that as these children are supposed to be in school, we want to ensure that they don't lose what they have gained already through the educational system. We want to find ways on how to work on their discipline and develop their vocational skills so that they can be integrated back into their family or in employment.

Frank Underwood, who for six months has been training staff who will be working with children at the centre, said "that the staff needs to know and integrate with an empathic attitude towards the difficulties presented by these young people. They must not forget that these young people do not come from nowhere."

Currently, a residential rehabilitation centre is in operation at the Seychelles Coast Guard headquarters at Ile Perseverance, a reclaimed island on the outskirts of Victoria, the capital.

Underwood said that as far as the accommodation system is concerned, it does not seem to correspond to the needs of the project both in terms of the environment and the security of the premises.

It is important for us as a whole to take stock of the extent of this problem of delinquency, a consequence of drug and alcohol addiction, which affects a large part of Seychellois youth. We must all be concerned because this is the future of our country, said Underwood.

On the other hand, we must stop stigmatising them because they are our children and we may need to ask ourselves about the quality of education that we parents and our institutions are able to offer, said Underwood.

Source: Seychelles News Agency