New school year in Seychelles starts virtually amidst COVID-19
Students in Seychelles this week began a new school year at home for the first time due to the COVID-19 measures the island nation are observing, as the Ministry of Education adapts to faciliate remote learning.
Speaking at a press conference on Tuesday detailing the approach, the Principal Secretary for Education, Odile Decomarmond, said the at-home learning will last for up to two weeks until the Health Department gives the go-ahead for children to return to school.
“We are doing our best to get all our programmes prepared. For this week, we are putting up relevant programmes that we recorded last year and was not aired. By next week, students will be able to get access with new programmes set out for the first term of the school year,” said Decomarmond
The lessons and learning resources are being made available via the national broadcaster, Seychelles Broadcasting Corporation, private television TeleSesel and on the internet. “The lessons that we diffuse on the different medium are directly linked to the school programmes. We want students to write the activities down. Just like last year during the stay-at-home measures, after three days, parents brought the lessons at school to be corrected by teachers,” explained Decomarmond.
In addition to this approach, Decomarmond said that students will be able to access their teachers through phone calls for any clarification on lessons.
A teacher from Perseverance Primary school, Henrico Ernesta, said that other than the mediums mentioned by the ministry, as a teacher he is being innovative and using other outlets such as WhatsApp to keep in touch with his students
“WhatsApp is more modern and children are more accustomed to it nowadays. I find it as a fast way to share information with my students,” said Ernesta. Ernesta said that there are constraints with homeschooling, but it also an advantage for students.
“Not all students have the necessary technology or internet to remain connected. Us teachers are using our internet and there is a cost to it. However, the advantage of virtual learning is that it will help students develop their independent learning skills at an early stage,” said Ernesta.
As for a student from Beauvallon Secondary School, Curtis Salomon, said that he was excited for a new school year to meet his classmates. Salomon added that staying at home to learn is a bit challenging, but interesting at the same time.
The minister called for schools to rescind traditional teaching methods and adopt more novel, innovative means of learning and teaching. (State House) Photo License: CC-BY
“It is hard to get one-on-one attention as is usually the case when a subject becomes hard to understand. At home, you might get distracted easily and less motivated when other classmates are not around. But for two weeks, I can cope though. One interesting part is that you do not feel confined such as in a classroom,” said Salomon.
In a virtual video on Monday to mark the beginning of the new school year, the Minister of Education, Justin Valentin, said that despite the “extraordinary” circumstances that have led to this unusual school year, students should endeavour to excel and be disciplined.
“Students cannot physically return to school, change their levels or even start a school year for the very first time as had been the case in previous years when Covid-19 was non-existent in our country,” said Valentin.
Valentin added that “I wanted to do it this way because I want to officially put an end to the holiday period, so that everyone, especially students and teachers, can start engaging in academic and scholarly activities, in virtual and distance learning mode.”
The minister called for schools to rescind traditional teaching methods and adopt more novel, innovative means of learning and teaching.