Sixteen students from various secondary schools in Seychelles had the opportunity to question President Wavel Ramkalawan in a first-of-its-kind presidential debate at State House on Friday.
Organised by the National Council for Children (NCC), the event, which was to commemorate Universal Children’s Day, was broadcast live on local television channels.
The question and answer session was moderated by Misael Bristol, a student from the Seychelles School of Advanced Level Studies (SALS) who was one of the first Seychellois students to address the National Assembly.
The questions focused on the drug abuse, sexual abuse of minors and education.
Jade Rignace, 16, from Mont Fleuri secondary, asked that since Friday, November 19 is International Men’s Day, “What are your wishes for young boys to prevent them from abusing drugs?”
Ramkalawan said that Seychelles is seriously fighting against illicit drugs because today 10 percent of the population are victims of the scourge.
“The reason why I made this commitment to fight against drugs is to liberate our young people so that they don’t fall into drug abuse, and that is the message I want to tell all young people.”  
Bianca Richemond of Pointe Larue school wanted the president to address the issue of sexual abuse where she asked for a more severe sentence for these offences.
Ramkalawan said, “Very soon there will be new laws that will be much more severe for us to be able to protect our children.”
On the educational front, questions included what plans the government has for less academically able students while students from the inner islands of Praslin and La Digue raised concerns about the costs for them to attend post-secondary school on Mahe, as there are no such training centres on these two islands.
After the dialogue, Elsa Cedras, a student from Praslin, told reporters that “I feel like Praslin and La Digue are neglected a lot because we are far from the main activities that take place on Mahe and I hope that with such a platform, we can bring forward our issues and hopefully it can be addressed.”
Sebastien Remie of La Digue said that this was a great experience and it felt very exciting, especially since it was live on television.
“I am satisfied with how it went and the answers we got. Now I just hope some of the concerns we put forward can be addressed,” he added.
Ramkalawan said he was impressed with the questions asked and how the whole activity was handled.
Sharon Meriton-Jean, the Director for Communication and events at NCC, told reporters that every year, one child is sent to the National Assembly to share concerns but “this year we thought why not go bigger and get the children to address their concerns directly at the president himself and get answers in real-time.”
Universal Children’s Day was first established in 1954 as Universal Children’s Day and is celebrated on 20 November each year to promote international togetherness, awareness among children worldwide, and improve children’s welfare.

Source: Seychelles News Agency