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The Seychelles population stood at 93,419 at the end of June this year, according to new figures released by the Seychelles National Bureau of Statistics, NBS.
The Seychelles population stands at 93,419 according to figures recorded up to June 30 this year. (Gerard Larose, STB)
There has been an increase of 2,060 people living in the Indian Ocean archipelago of 115 islands, from July 1, 2014 to June 30 this year.
This according to NBS, represents an annual growth rate of 2.2 percent.
The latest estimate of the Seychelles population is a little over 3,000 more than the around 90,000 people recorded during the last population census, which was carried out in 2010.
Demographic statistics including births, deaths, marriages, divorces and migration data, which are collected by the Civil Status and the Immigration Division, are published bi-annually.
The latest population increase is due to two main factors; an increase in both the number of births and migration figure.
According to the NBS, the first six months of this year recorded 810 births and 829 migrants in Seychelles.
"The number of migrants recorded do not specify whether they are foreigners who have come to work in Seychelles, or if they are Seychellois who have returned to the country, after being away," the Director of the Geographic Information System at the National Bureau of Statistics Teresa Gopal, told SNA in an interview.
She added that the real proportion of foreigners residing in Seychelles can only be determined through a national census.
The last census dates back to 2010, and the next national census is planned in five years’ time, in 2020.
The latest statistical bulletin on Seychelles’ population also confirms that Baie Ste Anne, on the archipelago’s second most populated island of Praslin is the most populated district with 5009 people, followed by Anse Etoile, in the northern part of the main island of Mahé with 4,845 inhabitants.
Port Glaud, situated on the western coast of Mahé is currently the smallest district, with only 2,642 inhabitants.
The figures, again do not include foreign workers residing in these districts, including Baie Ste Anne where there are many hotels employing foreigners.
Seychelles is also facing the same problem as many developed countries, which is an ageing population.
"We have seen that the population tends to grow old because there is a low birth rate. The workforce also tends to decrease as Seychellois women are not having many children. This may cause problem in the future ... but at times there may be an increase like what we have now," said Gopal.
The National Bureau of Statistics predicts that the Seychelles population will double in 2060, taking into account the birth and death rates.
As of 2016, compulsory schooling Seychelles will move from 10 to 11 years.
School children in Seychelles eager to go back to school in January 2015 after a 6-week break. Photo Courtesy (Joe Laurence, Seychelles News Agency)
Seychelles’ decision to extend the period of compulsory education from 10 to 11 years is aimed at increasing the number of graduates in the more 'technical fields' so as to better address the current human resources need of the country. “We intend to valorize technical education within the 11-year framework; that is our goal,” said the Special Advisor to the Minister for Education Selby Dora.
It was on June 29, in his National Day address that the Seychelles President James Michel announced that Seychellois students have to go through 11 years of compulsory education as of 2016. “This will better equip our youth for post-secondary education, equip them better for the world of work, and help them become better citizens,” said Michel.
The Indian Ocean archipelago of 115 islands with a population of around 90,000 people has had a system of free education since 1981. Although the education system provides for 6 years of primary schooling, followed by 5 years of secondary education, currently free compulsory education is for 10 years meaning until secondary 4. The new measure will mean that compulsory education is up to Secondary 5.
According to Mr. Dora this will be included in the Education Act, 2004 which is currently being revised so that it harmonizes with the Tertiary Education Act, 2011. Amendments to the education act will be presented to the National Assembly for approval later this year so as to be ready for the new measure to be implemented in 2016.
According to the Ministry of Education, at least 10 percent of students were opting to leave school at the end of their mandatory 10 years of schooling. Figures reveal that in 2014, for example, there were a total of 1,374 students in Secondary 4 combined across the 10 secondary schools on the main islands of Mahé, Praslin and La Digue and that 124 chose not to proceed to secondary 5.
The problem though, according to Mr. Dora, is that the current policy prompted a fair percentage of students, usually those gifted technically, to leave school without being prepared to join the world of work. “A few joined apprenticeship schemes, but most of them ended up doing nothing.”
The education ministry of the tiny island nation estimates that the students’ population comprises of 60 percent students who are rather technically gifted, compared to 40 percent with stronger academic backgrounds. With the extension of compulsory education by one year to include secondary 5, the Ministry of Education is therefore considering a review of the school programme to better meet the needs of the diversity of learners.
One of the ways of doing that will be through the strengthening of the Technical Vocational Education & Training programme (TVET).
The programme was introduced in 2011 following educational reforms to capture potential dropouts.
The Ministry’s Director General for Curriculum, Assessment and Teaching Support, Dr Odile De Commarmond explained that selected students follow a special programme when they reached S4 where they spend 3 days at school to improve their literacy and numeracy skills. The students spend the two remaining school days obtaining more practical skills either at organizations that partner with the education ministry or post-secondary institutions more focussed on vocational training.
For those who proceed to S5 they spend two days at school and the remaining days learning practical skills. De Commarmond noted that the number of students choosing to discontinue their studies at the end of secondary 4 would have doubled, had it not been for the programme.
Ministry of Education figures based on the TVET cohort of 2013-2014, indicate that of the 155 students who enrolled, 105 or 68 percent completed the programme in 2014. It also shows that 94 or 85% of students completing the programme were able to proceed for further training either at post-secondary institutions or through apprenticeship schemes run by the island nation’s labour ministry.
“It [the TVET programme] has yielded some positive results…we plan to expand the programme with the extension in mandatory schooling,” said De Commarmond. “What we had was the TVET phase 1…with the new measure we will reinforce the programme and move on to phase 2 so as to diversify to also include more students who are technically gifted but with a good academic background as well. We have a good number of such students who do not want to pursue an academic career.”
With a targeted 100 percent of students pursuing their studies up to S5 level as of 2016, the education ministry is also aiming to increase the number of students that get to pursue further studies at the different professional centres in the country. “Those who are good technically can follow courses at HND level [Higher National Diploma] for example and those who are good academically can go to SALS [School of Advanced Level] for example and end up at the University. We need graduates across the board in both technical and academic fields,” said Dora.
The Seychelles education ministry has said that it will be benefitting from the support of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural organization (UNESCO) during the coming 6 months so as to be ready to start implementing the new measures in 2016. Dora said that few countries offer 11 years compulsory and free education adding that this puts Seychelles in a strong position within the Knowledge-based Society concept.
The 11 years of compulsory education Seychelles will be implementing is also more than the 9 years called for at UNESCO's World Education Forum held in Incheon, South Korea, in May this year. The call made to governments worldwide followed concerns that the world is far from achieving education for all and the number of out of school children that keep increasing.
In a report published last year, UNESCO said that Seychelles is the only country in Africa that has thus far already fully achieved education for all, in line with the six Education For All (EFA) goals set out by UNESCO for attainment in 2015. There are 33 public schools and three private schools in the archipelago and Seychelles also began to offer domestic tertiary education following the establishment of the University of Seychelles in September 2009.
The Indian Ocean archipelago of Seychelles is aiming to re-structure its human rights commission and amend its legislation to comply with the United Nations’ international standards.
This was declared by Seychelles’ Foreign Affairs and Transport Minister, Joel Morgan, in conjunction with the recent visit of Head of Human Rights Unit of the Commonwealth, Advocate Karen McKenzie in the Seychelles capital of Victoria.
The latter had ended a series of consultations with government and the public on how to bring Seychelles’ Protection of Human Rights Act 2009 into compliance with the Paris Principles adopted as an official international human rights standard by the United Nations General Assembly in 1993.
McKenzie said that in the Commonwealth’s view, it was important for the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) of any Commonwealth country to be compliant with the Paris Principles. “This has been a commitment which has been made by all heads of government in the Commonwealth, that that is something that should be pursued, because these institutions are the apex of a national human rights protection system,” said McKenzie.
The small island developing state with its population of 90,000 people has ratified most of the UN conventions on human rights, including the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women.
2011 was the last time the UN’s Human Rights Committee reported on Seychelles’ progress in the field of human rights, and they noted that Seychelles had “failed to honour its reporting obligations under article 40 of the Covenant,” adding that the initial report had not been submitted although it had been due since 1993.
All UN member states undergo a review of their human rights landscapes every four and a half years under the Universal Periodic Review (UPR), and the Seychelles NHCR is expected to submit its next UPR report by October this year.
The national consultative workshop on human rights was held over Wednesday and Thursday last week (Seychelles Nation)
Photo license: CC BY-NC
‘Paris Principles should be the starting point’
The chairperson of the NHRC, Dora Zatte, is currently the only full-time staff member of the institution, along with two part-time commissioners, and the lack of budgetary resources and institutional capacity has been pointed out as the main reason for its inability to carry out its mandate effectively.
McKenzie said there are problems with the current format of the human rights legislation and institutions in the country.
“The start [establishment of the NHRC) wasn’t fully based on the Paris Principles, I think there were challenges in regard to its beginnings, because the current legislation, and I speak respectfully, is not compliant with the Paris Principles,” she said.
“The Paris Principles ought to be the starting point for any establishment, strengthening or operationalisation of a national human rights institution, but it is commendable that there is a structure there, that there is a piece of legislation there; all that needs to be done is for that to be firmed up, for it to be strengthened.”
McKenzie said she was hopeful that with government’s firm commitment, the human rights commission would be able to put forth an application for Paris Principles accreditation in the shortest possible time.
Foreign Affairs minister Joel Morgan affirmed the government’s will to become Paris Principle compliant with regards to human rights, adding that Seychelles would be guided by the recommendations and support provided by the workshops and public consultation processes.
“There will be a next step where we will take on board the recommendations and do another round of consultations, once we are ready, to propose a new structure that would help us to become more compliant with the Paris Principles,” said Minister Morgan.
“What we have agreed is that we will work in that direction as quickly as possible to go for accreditation, and I don’t mean Grade C accreditation, we want to really be up there, among the best. I think we can do it,” he explained.
“I think it takes a little bit of work from the legal instruments point of view, from the institutional point of view, and we also need to review whether we have one model, which is the Ombudsman and the Commission as it is now, or we have a hybrid model... or we separate the two institutions out completely.”
Advocate Karen McKenzie, Head of Human Rights at the Commonwealth (Hajira Amla, Seychelles News Agency) Photo license: CC-BY
Preparing for the UPR
In terms of the upcoming Universal Periodic Review, McKenzie said the Commonwealth’s Human Rights Unit worked to ensure that all Commonwealth member states improved through each review.
“We have... tried to prepare the Seychelles Human Rights Treaty Committee because it has to do some of the heavy lifting going forward in terms of preparing that first draft of the national report for consideration,” she said.
Advocate McKenzie said the national report involved collating information across ministries and compiling it into a substantive draft report.
“We will of course be supporting government through every step of the process until the report has been tabled,” she said. “We will also be supporting the National Human Rights Commission to prepare its first submission to the UPR, and their report has to be with the Council by the end of June.”
McKenzie and her team have also been helping government to put together its National Human Rights Action Plan, which would create a framework from which progress can easily be monitored by the treaty committee.
The Commonwealth team will also be supporting an institutional needs assessment, which will assess the current institutional framework of the commission and investigate what has been achieved since the institution was established.
“We know for example that their annual reports are backlogged, so how do we address that, because that gives them the context within which to engage with parliament, because they table their reports with parliament, and parliament ought to interrogate those reports,” said McKenzie.
Including civil society in human rights
McKenzie also explained that the Paris Principles also set out rules concerning the appointment procedure for national human rights commissions, explaining that commissioners had to be independently and transparently appointed and inclusive of civil society.
Minister Morgan echoed these sentiments, stating that faith-based organisations and other NGOs would have to become an integral part of the new human rights commission.
“Evidently, quite willingly, we would want to have a wider participatory base in terms of the commission in order to be able to ensure that there is correct representation that have to do with civil society and are in touch with the people on a day to day basis in relation to various things like human rights education, human rights reporting, the ability to go out there and assess what people are being subjugated to or not as the case may be in terms of human rights violations,” said Morgan.
The minister also said that the national action plan would include various elements, including an educational element similar to the one done recently in Seychelles with the anti-human trafficking framework.
“If you recall last year, we modified our laws, we brought in new legislation for human trafficking, and we constituted a national committee for human trafficking, and we also had a plan of action which is now being followed through, which included extensive media coverage, there was a huge awareness drive; there were posters, there were adverts in the papers, and I think the same thing can be done as soon as our national action plan is ready and has been approved for implementation,” said Minister Morgan.
Working towards accountability
The human rights advocate said that ultimately, the national human rights commission would be held accountable not only by the National Assembly, to which it would have to submit annual reports, but also to civil society.
“Civil society would make quite a bit of noise if the institution is not doing what it is supposed to be doing, and civil society is also part of the voices that the accreditation committee looks at when they are accrediting an institution. If civil society has negative reporting then it is something they look at,” said McKenzie.
Additionally, she remarked that the Seychelles’ national human rights commission, once set up correctly, would eventually become accountable to itself as well.
“Once the institution is up and running and it gets into the way of working of such an institution, it will work to jealously protect its accreditation status,” she explained. “In Africa, the Commonwealth has the highest number of A-accredited institutions, and they vie [with each other], it is a privilege to be holding that, and when there is an issue that threatens that A-accreditation, they are very quick to do whatever needs to be done to protect that accreditation.”
Minister Morgan pointed to human rights being more than something that regulated government institutions.
“Human rights is not only about government; it’s not only about the police, it’s not only about the NDEA, or the military, or government institutions violating the rights of its citizens, there are many other elements as you know; there is domestic violence and the protection of children, protection of women, sex workers and sexual abuse,” he said. “There are many other facets which we need to actually delve into to ensure we do the utmost possible to protect our citizens.”
However, Morgan is of the opinion that most Seychellois have a good sense of what human rights entails.
“Generally, I think our population is quite sharp, quite sensitised, and quite vocal when it comes to certain issues where they feel their rights are being [violated], and that’s a good thing, because it keeps up the awareness, be it on social media, be it in letters written in newspapers or be it in complaints to the office of the ombudsman or the human rights commission,” he said.
“I know that there are about thirty complaints a month to the human rights commission, so already people are aware that they can complain, but whether the commission can be effective at this point in time or not is really the key element on which we need to focus.”
Article Source © Seychelles News Agency- by Hajira Amla
Cottage industry has its place in Seychelles as it plays an important role in the economy of the country and provides employment for the people. But how many people do take up the employment opportunities presented to them? Some critics might say all people want to work to earn their living, but are all of them serious? A visit to some small family businesses in Baie Lazare and Takamaka districts on 31st March gave President James Michel the chance to see for himself the extent of the problem related to a scarcity of reliable local manpower.
Most of the entrepreneurs complained that they hesitate to employ Seychellois as they are either on drugs and consume a lot of alcohol thus missing work or just steal equipment. Another issue that came up was access to affordable loans. Some of the entrepreneurs are not even aware of the facilities government has put in place for them. Despite all these issues, the entrepreneurs have said they are determined to continue doing their business and want to grow and at the same time raise their level of production.
According to State House Communique the President undertakes such visits in order to listen to people about their ideas and concerns in the social and economic development of their districts.
“People do not know enough about the facilities that the Government has put in place that can help them in their business. We need to help them and give them more information on the media, and the ministry must be more proactive in going around the country and talking to the small business people and giving them information on how to develop their business and to grow their businesses. I think there should be more consultation, more interaction so that they can receive the necessary advice,” said Mr. Michel.
Chips maker François Mondon has been running his own business for 20 years and he said he gets help from his dad. He produces chips from banana, sweet potatoes, cassava and bread fruit, and even prepares moulouk. The 44-year-old he grows some of the raw materials but still has to outsource to meet the demand.
photo courtesy Seychelles Nation
Owner of a mechanical workshop at Anse Forbans, Keven Desaubin worked for Sacos for 14 years before opening his own workshop in 2007. “Business is doing very well. Our only issue is a lack of serious workers. Seychellois workers are good technically but they consume too much alcohol and drugs. As we don’t have enough workers, we get too much work to do and we can’t deliver all on time. Because we do not have qualified automotive engineer locally, my objective is to look for one from overseas to work on new cars with new technology. He can also train his Seychellois colleagues. My other wish is to benefit from an affordable loan to put the finishing touches to my workshop and also buy new equipment,” said Mr Desaubin.
photo courtesy Seychelles Nation
Farmer Marie-Noella Sanguignon does not possess a plot of land, but she grows cassava, sweet potatoes, beans, chilli and cucumbers among others on a plot at Quatre Bornes belonging to the Pigg family and it is rent-free. “I’ve been farming this land for 15 years and I work alone. This is very fertile land and I am able to produce enough to sell to small hotels and individuals. I like what I do,” she said.
Photo courtesy Seychelles Nation
Carpenter Randy Bonne’s workshop is situated at Takamaka and he works alone, covering all areas of carpentry specialising in wardrobes, cupboards and beds. “I’ve been running my business for 10 years and I buy wood planks at Anse Forbans. I am registered with Senpa (Small Enterprise Promotion Agency) and I took a first loan from the Seychelles Business Finance Agency (SBFA) to buy a piece of woodworking machinery equipment. After repaying my loan, I applied for another to buy an additional two pieces of equipment. Now I want to build a proper workshop and a house on my father’s land,” said Mr Bonne.
Ray Balette also of Takamaka is a product of the ITC (Industrial Training Centre) the predecessor of SIT (Seychelles Institute of Technology). A finish carpenter he specialises in crafts and creates ornate, detailed, and fine wood products for a variety of uses. The 30-year-old’s workplace is not in a good state and he says he needs help to get a loan. “I have two woodworking machinery equipments and it is very difficult for me to work when it rains. I have to move one inside and cover the other. I do not want to exhibit my work in Victoria, I would rather stay in Takamaka,” said Mr Balette who has been running his small business for one and a half years and produces upon demand.
As for Ian Belle, he is happy his small bakery – Ian’s Bakery – at Val Mer is doing very well. “I bake 5,000 loaves of bread daily and I distribute to hotels and shops in Baie Lazare and Takamaka. I also bake cakes, pudding among others. This is a family business as my wife and 22-year-old son are part of it. I used to employ Seychellois but no more as they consume too much alcohol and are on drugs. Now, I employ two Malagasies as I have to meet the demand and keep a certain standard and quality of baked products,” said Mr Belle, who added that he has already reimbursed the loan he borrowed from the Development Bank of Seychelles to start his business. Vegetable and fruit seller Bernadette Antat of Quatre Bornes Baie Lazare said most of her clients are foreigners. “I sell tomatoes, banana, cassava, sweet potatoes which I grow myself. I get a lot of clients between 12 noon and 6pm and they like the fresh produce. I want to have a plot of land where I can concentrate on cultivating more such produce for sale. My daughter is also studying horticulture and I want her to join me in this business,” said Mrs Antat.
In his closing remarks following the five months of the forum’s existence, President Michel thanked the members of the forum for promoting national unity and for working to find solutions to the problems that are dividing the Seychellois people.
He said that it is the forum’s responsibility to bring these to their collective attention, so that they can act as the catalyst by calling all the relevant persons or agencies to focus on the problem and find speedy solutions.
“We are too small a country to be divided among ourselves. Working together as we have shown we can provide the stability that is so necessary for progress and development.This Forum has demonstrated that we have reached a level of political maturity that helps us to put aside any personal differences for the greater good of Seychelles and Seychellois people,” said the President.
Mr. Michel also listed the achievements of the forum in its deliberations;
We have focused mainly on getting a better understanding of the needs of our country, our education system, and on our proposals for improvements.
We have made suggestions for national capacity building to ensure that Seychellois are well trained for the diversity of economic development.
We have also nurtured a number of high level forum to address sector-specific issues.
We raised a number of political issues, such as pending legislation on elections and political party registration, and these have been addressed rapidly.
We have taken measures to de-politicise state functions.
We have put into action the suggestions of the Forum for the introduction of a national honours scheme that will recognise the personal achievements of our citizens.
We are addressing the issue of efficiency of our institutions of democracy.
We are getting our various agencies and NGOs to work better together, for example in assisting victims of substance abuse and other areas also where NGOs can play a very important role.
There remain many other issues for us to address, such as the role of an independent media, innovative Government and the need for ongoing constitutional reform. I am encouraged by the progress that we have made together.
The meeting of the Forum today rounded off its discussions on the Education sector, and summarised its observations and recommendations to Government for its consideration.
Mr Patrick Victor, who is a Member of the Forum presented three papers on the state of Arts & Culture in Seychelles. The Forum heard that Seychellois artistes felt that there should be a better enabling framework within which they could contribute more to economic development, alongside the tourism sector. They wanted a closer working relationship with the Culture Department. They called for the construction of a suitable venue where large musical shows could be held. They looked forward to the long awaited Arts Village.
Mr Victor also called for greater promotion of, and discipline in the use of the Creole language. For example, many senior officers made statements in a mixture of Creole and English when being interviewed by the media for Creole news and documentaries; this was not considered acceptable practice.
The Forum also called on institutions of good governance, such as the Office of the Ombudsman, the National Human Rights Commission and the Seychelles Media Commission, to play a greater advocacy role to sensitise the public on the functions they discharged.
The Forum advised that the Interfaith Committee (SIFCO) suggest a form of common prayer which could be used regularly in school assemblies. This would contribute to the moral and spiritual development of young persons.
The next meeting of the Forum was expected to be on 22nd January 2015.
The forum is chaired by the President.
The members are as follows;
-President James Michel
-Vice-President Danny Faure
-Bishop Denis Wiehe
-Mr Daniel Belle
-Mr Marco Francis
-Mr Jude Fred
-Mr Bernard Georges
-Mr Edmond Hoareau
-Mr Michel Madeleine
-Mrs Marguerite Mancienne
-Mrs Mahroohk Pardiwalla
-Mr William Rose
- Dr Nirmal Shah
-Mr Patrick Victor
-Mr Jean Weeling-Lee