The new school year in Seychelles began Monday, bringing with it a new era to public schools as these institutions take steps to become autonomous.
The autonomy of the 35 primary and secondary schools form part of the Ministry for Education and Human Resources Development’s initiative to bring reforms to the public education system.
“We are ready to turn to the next phase. We have been talking about schools’ autonomy for the last three years and we have agreed that we need to enter in full autonomy,” said President Danny Faure when made the announcement last year.
Through this process, these schools will be self-governed with minimal interference from the Ministry.
Faure added that “it is important to realise that there are certain norms and practices that will now need to change and that the government will guide them through this process.”
The autonomy will give heads of schools, school management teams along with school councils the power to take decisions in regards to minor school reparations, selection, and interview of teachers who will join their schools among others. 
Schools will have the power to make decisions for minor reparations among others. (Seychelles Nation) Photo License: CC-BY 
“Discipline and teacher management will also be under their responsibility. They would be the ones to establish the barometers for teacher performance and behaviour,” said Jeanne Simeon the Minister for Education.
The Ministry will have oversight of the policy under the education act, the implementation and oversight of curriculum, the monitoring of standards as well as the setting of exams.
The Ministry will also have the responsibility for the central procurement and the purchasing of equipment and furniture in bulk, construction of new buildings as well as major works to the schools’ infrastructures.
But the school management and school councils will be accountable for the overall performance.
The councils, set up under School Councils (Amendment), Regulations 2019 came into force as of January 2020, will act as the governing body of state schools. Their overall goal is to enhance student performance.
But how independent are state schools? Marc Arrisol of Mont Fleuri Secondary feels that this autonomy comes with too many restrictions.
“Say I am having issues with staff, staff management and I have taken all measures as per policy but still am not getting the desired change. I will not be able to take action, as still, this lies with the ministry. For me, autonomy comes with authority and power, but I am not seeing this,” said the headteacher.
On his part, Steve Hoareau of English River Secondary school told SNA that all decisions taken will have to be in accordance with the Education Act.
“But we will need to use procedures in place and we do not expect the ministry to question our decisions. So I see it in that way, we expect less interference from headquarters on the way we deal with different issues, but most important we must follow the law as the law dictates our practices,” said Hoareau.
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 be clear on is that autonomy comes with responsibility.”
It was also pointed out that public schools in Seychelles – 115 islands in the western Indian Ocean – lack so much in terms of resources, and it will take time to attain full autonomy.
Source: Seychelles News Agency