Big Changes and Big Effects of the New Teacher Policy in the Island Nation of Seychelles
On November 18, top education officials from Seychelles’ Ministry of Education and Human Resource Development shared their experience of developing their new Teacher Management and Development (TMD) Policy during a webinar co-hosted by UNESCO International Institute for Capacity Building in Africa (IICBA) and UNESCO Regional Office for Eastern and Southern Africa. Participants from UNESCO and Seychelles’ education ministry, as well as from Mozambique’s education ministry, attended the webinar to learn about Seychelles’ technical process, challenges, and milestones. The webinar event was led and moderated by Dr. Binyam Sisay Mendisu, Program Officer at UNESCO IICBA and the lead consultant to the Seychelles’ policy team.
The Seychelles education officials presenting at the webinar.
(Photo: Seychelles’ Ministry of Education and Human Resource Development)
During the webinar, Dr. Yokozeki, the Director of UNESCO IICBA, acknowledged that Seychelles’ policy experience is helping shape the initiation and development of Mozambique’s and Malawi’s teacher reform policies. “Technical policies from small countries can influence other countries,” said Dr. Yokozeki. “We have one of the smallest countries in Africa [Seychelles] and one of the biggest countries in Africa [Mozambique] sharing ideas and putting their thoughts together for a quality education in which teachers’ roles are very important.” Mozambican officials articulated this affiliation as they questioned the Seychelles team about pre- and in-service teacher education, and the Malawi members asserted the usefulness of the webinar for their own policy planning.
Seychelles’ newly approved TMD Policy is the result of a comprehensive two-year technical consultation with UNESCO IICBA beginning in spring 2018. The policy will go into effect in public schools from January 2021 and will be monitored and evaluated for effectiveness, with a full review every five years. The policy focuses on teacher development, management, empowerment, status and professionalization, and educational leadership and management. The policy-development process reflects UNESCO IICBA’s goals and objectives, and contextualized, evidence-informed capacity building work throughout Africa.
Dr. Odile De Comarmond, the Principal Secretary for Early Childhood, Primary and Secondary Education in Seychelles, spoke of the need to address gaps in teaching because they are manifesting in low learning outcomes that are far below her country’s national standard. Moreover, low interest among young Seychellois to join the teaching profession has forced the Ministry to recruit too many foreign teachers. “There is a mounting problem of ineffective teaching and the absence of national teaching regulation, until now,” said Dr. De Comarmond. “The policy provides a framework for the recruitment, training, development, and retention of teachers.”
Ann Therese Ndong-Jatta, the Director of UNESCO Regional Office for Eastern and Southern Africa, added valuable insight on the policy-development process. “The policy must be very balanced to not expect so much from teachers without paying attention to what it should give teachers,” said Director Ndong-Jatta. “One important thing we need in education is a well-developed teacher education policy that is accompanied by the right level of support to get the right level of motivation from teachers.”
Through the example of Seychelles, the webinar provided a rare insider’s look into the actual step-by-step technical process of creating and institutionalizing a nationwide policy. It suggests what can be achieved through long-term coordination, planning, evidence-gathering, and dialogue with stakeholders like teachers, school leaders and teacher educators.
During the webinar, Alex Souffe, the Chief Officer for Teacher Management and Development who headed the policy committee in Seychelles, shared the methodology they used to arrive at the policy. He explained how they overcame their knowledge gaps and lack of access to research. “When there were of course times we fell short in terms of expertise, we turned to our technical assistance from IICBA to unlock [us] whenever we were stuck,” said Mr. Souffee. Moreover, to identify Seychelles-specific data, Mr. Souffe “tracked down those people who had done research in recent years…especially if they have done something in the field of teacher issues and management.”
Ms. Rosianna Jules, the Director of Seychelles Institute of Teacher Education, presented the implementation, monitoring, and evaluation plan for the TMD Policy during the webinar. “We have developed a terms of reference for a Steering Committee which we will establish next year to give oversight to the implementation of the policy to ensure the technical or coordinating team is doing the work it should do, and to validate the documents we will be putting forward for implementation,” said Ms. Jules.
Mr. Souffe and Ms. Jules presenting the approved policy in July 2020. (Photo: Thomas Meriton, Seychelles Nation.)
I hope many African countries learn from this great experience,” said Mr. Sall. “We understand that approval of the policy is only the beginning of the way, and we will be happy to closely accompany Seychelles…as they move to the next step, praxis and practice.” “We continue to count on the support of the regional office, IICBA,” said Dr. De Comarmond of Seychelles.
To learn more, watch the webinar here.
For questions and comments, please contact the writer, Maryann Dreas-Shaikha, at email@example.com
The webinar was featured in the Seychelles Nation newspaper on November 20. Read the article here.