Seychelles will establish new regulations to align with international standards concerning early childhood care and development, officials said Tuesday at the signing of an agreement with UNESCO.
The Seychelles' Minister for Education Justin Valentin signed the agreement, which will allow Seychelles through its Institute for Early Childhood Development, IECD, to provide training and expertise on early childhood development internationally. The Institute will provide global intellectual and operational leadership, as well as capacity building for UNESCO member states to advance the development of early childhood care and development.
"For us to be able to start, we will need to revise our laws because what we have now are domestic laws. These needs to align as per the agreement and international obligations that UNESCO requires," said Shirley Choppy, the chief executive of the Institute.
Choppy added that this will include the establishment of an international governing board with representatives from UNESCO amongst others to oversee the work of the institute alongside the local board of directors.
"Seychelles has won its first-ever world gold medal. -- the highest standard we've ever achieved at an international level by achieving a UNESCO Global Category 2 among only 15 other such centres worldwide," said the Chair of the local board Captain David Savy
Savy added that one of their priorities is the construction of the new centre dedicated to early childhood development.
A first for the region, the centre is expected to be funded through a grant of over $1 million from the United Arab Emirates on an allocated parcel of land at Ile du Port - a manmade island, on the outskirts of the capital city of Victoria. The centre will be a two-storey building of which the ground floor will be dedicated to a daycare centre. The other floors will house office spaces and conference rooms among others.
The Secretary-General of Seychelles' National UNESCO Commission, VIeky Michel, recalled that the UNESCO General Conference unanimously approved the status of Seychelles as a Global Category II Institute for ECCD in November 2019.
"The geographical scope of the UNESCO Category II Institute means that Seychelles has acceded to a global recognition as a leader in this field," said Michel.
According to the Secretary-General this recognition will allow Seychelles - 115 islands in the western Indian Ocean - to implement the global education goal SDG4.2 on Early Childhood Care and Education which is asking Seychelles to "ensure by 2030, that all girls and boys have access to quality early childhood development, care and pre-primary education so that they are ready for primary education".
"This accolade will raise the quality of Early Childhood Care and Education in Seychelles to an international level. It will increase synergies, links and improve coordination and collaboration between the different sectors to bring tangible actions and outcomes in ECCE services and programmes," said Michel.
Michel concluded that "furthermore, it will increase the visibility of Seychelles as a country with best practice in ECCE that is ready to assist other member states with the development of ECCE in their countries."
As a UNESCO Category 2 Centre, IECD will provide leadership, coordination and strategic direction at regional and international levels. It is hoped that the island nation can attain a Category 1 status in three years.