Public schools in Seychelles this year will be implementing an anti-bullying policy, and all parents will be asked to sign social contracts making them responsible and accountable for their child’s behaviour.
State schools will also be self-governed with minimal interference from the Ministry for Education and Human Resource Development.
Joel Morgan, minister for education and human resource development, gave details of these new changes to reporters last week.
Morgan said that state schools will gain autonomy but school management and councils will be accountable for schools’ performance.
“The ministry will have an oversight of the policy under the education act. The implementation and oversight of curriculum will stay with the ministry. We will also be responsible for the central procurement the purchasing of equipment and furniture in bulk.”
Morgan said that the “monitoring of standards and the setting of exams will also stay with headquarters.”
The minister said that the construction of big infrastructures such as new blocks will also remain with the ministry as schools do not have the capacity to oversee and manage such projects.
Christopher Lespoir, the chair of the council of the Plaisance Secondary School, said autonomy for schools was long overdue.
“The Ministry of Education faces a lot of challenges due to micromanagement as everything was being managed centrally. This led to delays and wastage of resources. Now the schools can run their administration, manage their budget as well as take care of repairs and maintenance. But one thing that all schools should beclear on is that autonomy comes with responsibility.”
Lespoir adds that now schools have to be at the forefront and make things happen instead of relying fully on the ministry.
2018 is also the last year that the Ministry of Education will appoint school councils.
“As of next year councils will be elected by parents. We want to democratise this, but we know some members by virtue of office will remain, for example, the head teacher and district authority,” said Morgan.
Lespoir said that schools should be free to choose council members. “We at Plaisance Secondary school have done this for two years now. Independently from the Ministry, we have selected our own council which is doing extremely well.”
Lespoir adds that the council elected are all people with a strong connection to the school. These include past students of the institution.
“We are all engaged in all aspects of the school life and this is why Plaisance School which was once a school with bad elements and lots of behavioural problems have turned around. In 2017, the school has excelled in sports and cultural activities. This year we want the school to excel academically.”
These new initiatives have been taken as a hands-on approach to tackle several problems facing state schools for some years now. There have been a lot of concerns raised over behavioural and disciplinary issues which many believe have resulted in low-level of performance.
The social contract which will not need any signature but rather will be a legal regulatory policy will also come in force this year in all state schools.
“In the regional meetings last year, we spoke a lot about this and we have received a lot of support as well as feedback. The social contract is at the Attorney General’s office. Once the drafting of the regulations is done, this will be taken to the cabinet of ministers and the national assembly before it becomes a regulation under the education act,” said Morgan.
The social contract will force parents and students to take responsibility for their actions and be held accountable for any unacceptable behaviour. Parents and students who fail to abide by the contract will be liable to a fine of up to R50,000 SCR or $3,628.
2018 will also see the implementation of the anti-bullying policy. “All schools will have to adopt this policy. It is an instructions guide for schools so that they know what to do in instances of bullying so that in the end all schools have the same comprehensive approach,” said Minister Morgan.