GENEVA, Switzerland, October 21, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ — “The emerging concept of the ‘Blue Economy’ demands that skills development become central to Seychelles’ education system,” today said the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the right to education, Kishore Singh, noting the country’s efforts to develop a sustainable economy based on better protection and use of marine resources.
“Technical and vocational education and training, and collaboration with industry and enterprises must be strengthened to ensure that the Seychellois acquire the skills and competencies needed to build the nation,” he stressed* at the end of his first information-gathering mission to the country.
The UN independent expert acknowledged recent gains made in education by the Seychelles Government; however, he warned, improvements will be at risk if the crisis in teacher recruitment, training and retention is not urgently dealt with.
“The shortage of dedicated, trained teachers is very alarming, as the profession is not attractive enough,” Mr. Singh said. “If the quality of education is to improve, measures must be taken to restore the esteem of the profession, as well as teaching conditions, to ensure the best students are attracted to teaching.”
The Special Rapporteur observed that the Seychelles has taken some important initiatives to engage with parents and civil society, most notably President James Michel’s National Renaissance Program.
“This program provides a blueprint on how the serious social issues being faced by children at home and in schools can be addressed, but it can only succeed if parents and communities are actively engaged in dialogue and actions to find solutions together,” he said. “Strengthening personal, social and civil education in schools, and enhancing discipline in schools, are important means of addressing this challenge.”
“The active participation of all sectors of civil society, including teachers, students, their parents and communities, is vital for a well-functioning national education system,” the UN independent expert said, stressing that while the education system remains primarily the responsibility of government, educating children is a collective social responsibility.
During his eight-day mission, Mr. Singh met with President Michel and high level Government authorities, as well as civil society representatives, including NGOs. He also held discussions with educators, academics, students and teachers’ representatives when he visited primary and secondary schools and public universities the main island of Mahé.
The Special Rapporteur will prepare a report to be presented at the UN Human Rights Council in June 2014, providing recommendations for building on the gains made in the realization of the right to education in Seychelles.
(*) Read the full end-of-mission statement: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=13875&LangID=E