Re-opening date for Seychelles' two private schools remains uncertain
The re-opening of the Ecole Francaise des Seychelles is uncertain said the director Jean-Pierre Cortesi. (Rassin Vannier, Seychelles News Agency)
(Seychelles News Agency) - The re-opening date for two private schools in Seychelles remains uncertain in view of the health measures in place and a temporary ban on returning expatriates to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
The International School Seychelles and Ecole Francaise des Seychelles (French school) run their school year from September to July, unlike state schools which run from January to December.
With the closing of all schools in the island nation in March, the main focus of the two schools is to ensure students are on track with their studies with only three months remaining.
The director of Ecole Francaise des Seychelles, Jean-Pierre Cortesi, told SNA that the re-opening of the school was uncertain and it was therefore important that all measures are taken to ensure education continues.
The school, with nearly 300 students, both foreigners and locals, has two online platforms for primary and secondary and students, with daily schoolwork and exams.
"We are continuing with the pedagogical programme with the use of our online platform PRONOTE and Padlet, so that students, teachers and parents can have access to schoolwork as well as interact," he said.
Similarly, the Seychelles International School is relying on 'Google classroom' – a free web service where students and teachers can share files. Both schools are also relying on Zoom – a free platform for video conferences of up to 100 participants, with a 40-minute time limit.
Terence Francoise, the Vice Principal, says so far the platforms have been very useful.
"Google classroom is not new for our secondary students as they were using it before the corona outbreak, so our students have been able to adapt easily. However, this has now been expanded to cater for our primary students as well and we've ensured that parents have been trained on how to make use of the platform".
For Vidya Gappy whose 9-year-old Elyana attends CM1 (primary education) at Ecole Francaise, the platform set up for students and parents is well set up and easily accessible.
|Elyana working at home using the online platforms set up for students. (Vidya Gappy) Photo License: All Rights Reserved
"The problem comes when I myself does not know how to do the homework the way the teacher does at school. I think we should have the possibility to talk directly to the teacher," she told SNA.
Another concern is the recruitment of foreign teachers. Ecole Francaise which relies heavily on foreign teachers is uncertain whether this will go ahead after the suspension of Gainful Occupation Permit by the Seychelles' government till September.
"We are going to submit our list for recruitment of 10 teachers by mid-June for the new school year in September and we will await the outcome of course with the guidance of the French embassy in Seychelles and local authorities," said Cortesi.
Despite this uncertain time, the school's director says he was generally satisfied with how the situation is being managed, especially with the students and parents' involvement.
"Our focus now is post-COVID '-19 and how to work with those who were unable to stay on track with their studies because this is bound to happen without a classroom setting. So once the situation gets back to normal, we will have to find ways to get out students back on track," added Cortesi.
A provisional re-opening date of May 4 has been communicated to parents.
As for the International School, the Vice Principal, said, "There is a proposal to shorten the two-month summer holidays which is usually up to six or seven weeks and come back after four weeks to cover some of the lessons. But this has not been finalized as we must put it to the board for approval."
He said that school will provisionally open from May 11 until July 31.
Since Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean, had its first two cases of COVID-19 on March, several measures including travel ban both by air and sea, restriction on people's movements and closure of non-essential services.
The measures are in place till the end of April.