The commonwealth is providing Seychelles with technical support to strengthen and build the capacity of the island nation’s school councils to ensure better management and accountability of state schools.
A top official from the Ministry of Education and Human Resources Development said that this will allow the ministry to review the current work pertaining to school councils which were established a decade ago through a regulation.
“We needed to identify key challenges and gaps in knowledge that would form the basis for training and capacity development of school council members,” explained Odile Decomarmond, the Principal Secretary for Early Childhood, Primary and Secondary Education.
An advisor in the Commonwealth Secretariat who is working with the ministry, Amina Osman, said “the Commonwealth Secretariat already has a programme on school leadership and management. What we are currently doing fits perfectly under that programme.”
Osman added that what is being done in Seychelles –115 islands in the western Indian Ocean — can be then shared with other member states.
“Whatever is being done here in terms of training, tools and capacity building will benefit the broader secretariat. It is also important for us to get governance right, as governance, accountability, transparency, and partnership are key for the Commonwealth,” added Osman.
The Commonwealth of Nations, normally known as the Commonwealth, is a political association of 53 member states, nearly all of them former territories of the British Empire.
The purpose of the voluntary Commonwealth is for international cooperation and to advance economics, social development, and human rights in member countries.
Decomarmond explained that once the process is over, school councils will be expected to play a clearer role in helping schools to achieve results.
“This new model of governance of schools in the form of school councils, calls for a greater orientation to a more decentralized operating environment between the ministry headquarters, the school governance, leadership, and management at the school level,’ said the Principal Secretary.
According to the ministry, the process will bring about improvements in the performance of the diversity of learners based at the school and reduced bureaucracy in decision-making and operationalisation in defined areas of school matters.
Other benefits include a greater sense of ownership and greater involvement of the school-based personnel in school affairs and a higher level of accountability for decisions taken at the school level.
Christopher Lespoir, the council chairperson of the Plaisance Secondary school for the past three years, told SNA on Tuesday that “the help from Commonwealth to strengthen School Council is timely. We need to take stock before moving on to the other phase of school governance. We need to make the most of it.”
Marc Arrisol headteacher of Mont Fleuri Secondary said that “school council role is crucial to schools’ governance and will need to play an active role in assisting schools better manage their autonomy.”
Currently, all 36 state schools have their councils, which comprises of a chair appointed by the minister and five other members namely the headteacher, two other teachers from the school management team, the chair of the Parents Teachers Association and the District Administrator.