Around 50 teachers from Mauritius and Zambia are expected in Seychelles this week to begin teaching in state schools as part of government efforts to counter the lack of local teachers.
Odile Decomarmond - Principal Secretary for early childhood, primary and secondary in the Ministry of Education -- told SNA that Seychelles is also working with other countries to source new teaching staff for the new school year, which started from January 22.
"Apart from Mauritius and Zambia, where new recruits have been selected, we are also exploring the possibilities with Fiji, Madagascar, and the Philippines," Decomarmond said.
The principal secretary said that the ministry is also relooking at its memorandum of understanding with other countries such as Kenya, Sri Lanka, and Botswana.
"The group of teachers coming in is expected to be in the class by the second week of February. Teachers from Mauritius will be sent to primary schools as we have a lack there, where several local teachers have retired."
Decomarmond said that another recruitment drive is on the way in Mauritius to recruit teachers for secondary schools who can teach French, religion and technology.
The ministry is also recruiting locals on a part-time basis as Decomarmond said, "We have teachers who had retired and we are bringing them back in the education sector on a part-time basis."
She adds that teachers studying at the University of Seychelles will also be able to teach part-time. Staff at the ministry with teaching backgrounds are also being sent back to school to teach until the gaps are filled.
SNA talked to several people including teachers to get their opinion on the issue of foreign teachers in state schools. The new headteacher of the Mont Fleuri secondary school, Marc Arrisol, said foreign teachers have both advantages and disadvantages.
"Culturally Seychelles is similar to Mauritius, we speak the same language and this will be an advantage. Mauritians can understand the students better and deter some negative behaviours such as the use of foul language by students," said Arrisol.
He added that "they can command the respect that teachers deserve. While teachers from African countries get a cultural shock when they come here. I am sure with the Zambians it will be the same and we hope they can adapt."
This is something that another secondary teacher - who did not wish her identity to be divulged - told SNA. "I think the Mauritians will do well in both primary and secondary schools. They are like us, besides Creole they are also conversant in English and French as well. But I think with the Africans they cannot adapt. We saw that with the teachers from Botswana, for example. Some left soon after they came and some did not even inform the Ministry."
Aima Payet has three daughters at Beau Vallon secondary school. " Growing up we were taught by some foreigners. We had the Irish nuns for example. Despite their strong accent, we did well at school. But then again some might find it difficult to adapt to our society."
Payet adds that this is also an opportunity for Seychellois children to at a young age adapt to different nationalities. "I believe this will make them more resilient."
Steve Hoareau this year moved from a primary to a secondary school. The new headteacher of English River school said, "The arrival of the new teachers will relieve some pressure as for now some teachers are teaching more periods that they should. But the cultural difference is an issue. I feel that the other nationalities will find it challenging to adapt to our adolescents especially those with disciplinary and behavioural issues."
There are currently 35 primary and secondary state schools in Seychelles - a group of 115 islands in the western Indian Ocean. Presently there are currently 1050 teachers working in state schools on the three main islands of Mahe, Praslin, and La Digue. Amongst which 173 are foreigners.