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Seychelles

BASIC DATA
Official Country Name: Republic of Seychelles
Region: Africa
Population: 79,326
Language(s): English, French, Creole
Literacy Rate: 58%


Seychelles is an archipelago in the Indian Ocean made up of about 115 islands, most of which are uninhabited. With an area of 455 square kilometers, Seychelles is about 2.5 times the size of Washington, DC, and is the second smallest country in Africa. The country has a population of approximately 80,000 people with an average life expectancy of nearly 70.5 years. The inhabitants are Seychellois, which is a mixture of Asians, Africans, and Europeans. Approximately 90 percent of the people are Roman Catholics. The predominant languages are English, French, and Creole. In 1995, the literacy rate for the population was 85 percent, with the definition of literacy being age 15 and over who can read and write. The country has a legal system based on English common law, French civil law, and customary law.

In 1985, The Ministry of Education produced a new version of education titled "Education for a new Society," which laid the groundwork for many changes in the education system. In 1990, the country's president announced a number of wide-ranging improvements to education, later called "1991 Education Reform." In 1994, the Education Management Division in the Ministry of Education initiated the "School Improvement Programme Project," and in 1999 the policy of Education Reform was begun. The purpose of these reforms in Seychelles has been to improve access and quality of education through a coherent and comprehensive system. As a result of the 1999 Education Reform, a new section of management has been established in the Principal Secretary's office. This section, called The Education Planning Council, functions to make policies, coordinate improvements, and monitor the country's educational plan. Between 1990 and 1997, a major school reconstruction project was completed. The major purpose of the project was to bring all schools in Seychelles up to minimum standard levels in physical structures, materials, resources, equipment, and textbooks.

Formal education in Seychelles began in the mid-1800s with the opening of Roman Catholic and Anglican mission schools staffed by foreign teachers. The government assumed responsibility for these schools in 1944. When the government opened a technical college in 1970, the country had a supply of locally trained teachers and was able to establish more schools. A system of free and compulsory education was established in 1981 for children in grades one through nine.

Students are taught to read and write in Creole until grade three, when they are taught in English in some subjects. Education in French begins in grade six. When students finish their compulsory education, they are given the opportunity to attend a National Youth Service (NYS) program where they receive training in academics and in life skills. In 1991, the enrollment in NYS was 1,394 students. Students who do not attend NYS can volunteer for a six-month government work program in which they are paid a small stipend while training.

Education for students is free and compulsory from ages 5 to 16 in primary and secondary schools. Prior to age five, schools called creches provide preprimary education. All creches have formally organized early childhood care and development. Although creche education is not compulsory, it is operated and funded by the government. Creches have their own curriculum and are staffed by teachers specializing in early childhood education. The creches operate under the schools section of the Ministry of Education, and each is attached to the closest primary school. In 1999, enrollment in early childhood programs totaled 3,212 students.

Primary education is designated as grades one through six and secondary education continues for another five years. However, only three years of secondary are compulsory. Special education is also provided within the spectrum of primary and secondary education. In 2000, the total number of students enrolled in Seychelles' schools was 22,651. Of that number, 3,065 were in creches, 10,026 were in primary, and 7,742 were in secondary. In addition, 1,818 students were enrolled in postsecondary schools. The total number of teachers for 2000 was 1,644, which produced a student/teacher ratio of 13.8:1. The number of students and teachers has remained fairly steady since 1997. Government's cost to educate its students was more than 8.5 percent of total expenditures in 1998.

Students who complete their secondary education can attend Seychelles Polytechnic College where they are able to receive pre-university training in teacher education, business, humanities and science, and hotels/tourism. Since no university exists in Seychelles, further education is usually done through scholarship programs of other countries.

The government has established an adult literacy program, which is administered by the Ministry of Education. The basic components of the adult education program match those of the other education programs. The major goal of adult education is to reach a literacy rate of 90 percent.

Education reforms, budget expenditures, and emphasis on educational equity for all are evidence of Seychelles' dedication to its inhabitants. The government stresses accountability, productivity, and technology mastery as elements to ensure the success of its education system as the method to prepare its inhabitants to operate confidently in this modern world.


BIBLIOGRAPHY

The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). The World Factbook 2000. Directorate of Intelligence, 1 January 2000. Available from http://www.cia.gov/.

The Europa World Yearbook 2000. London: Europa Publications Limited.

MISD. "Statistics and Database Administration Section." Seychelles in Figures, 2000. Available from http://www.seychelles.net/misdstat/.

UNESCO. EFA 2000 Assessment: Country Reports-Seychelles. Available from http://www2.unesco.org/wef/.

United States Library of Congress. Seychelles-A Country Study, August 1994. Available from http://lcweb2.loc.gov/.


—Linda K. Clemmer

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