The Inauguration Of The University Of Seychelles
Mon, 29 November 2010
Speech By President James Michel On The Occasion Of The Inauguration Of The University Of Seychelles
Monday 29th November 2010
Your Royal Highness, The Princess Royal, Princess Anne,
Speaker of the National Assembly, Ministers, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
Today is an important moment in the history of Seychelles, and for the people of Seychelles. As a nation, we stand together to salute the inauguration of our very own university.
It is our honour and privilege to be able to take this bold new step in the presence of Her Royal Highness, The Princess Royal, Princess Anne, who is also the Chancellor of the University of London.
Your Royal Highness, you know our attachment to the Royal Family and to Britain, born out of close to 200 years of shared history, first as a dependency, then as a Crown colony and subsequently as a member of the Commonwealth. Those ties have been reinforced by visits by members of the Royal Family. More than a half century ago we had the honour to welcome His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh on a brief visit to our shores on his way to open the Olympic Games in Australia. In 1972, Her Majesty the Queen and His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh graced us with their presence for the opening of our international airport. In 2006, His Royal Highness Prince Edward co-presided with me the Gold Award ceremony of the President’s Gold Award Programme. Today, it is your turn, Your Royal Highness! It is a great honour and pleasure to welcome You to our islands. We wish You a most pleasant and fruitful stay with us. Your presence here this afternoon demonstrates your commitment to education and your support to bringÂ tertiary education closer to our people.
In 2007, we set out into the unknown. We came back with the realisation of a vision that will outlast all of us in this room, but transform Seychelles forever.
In 2010, our transformation has gathered momentum, and we are ready. Ready for greater leaps into the future.
Your Royal Highness,
A great British statesman, Benjamin Disraeli, once said: Upon the education of the people of this country the fate of this country depends. His wise words are as valid then as now. I could not describe the future of my country better, than by pointing to this university. It is our university - and it is our future. Upon the education of the people of this country the fate of this country depends
The University of Seychelles is the university of the people.
The University of London had the same ambition when it opened its doors 150 years ago. Their vision was to allow anyone with the required abilities to be able to achieve university training, irrespective of background or ability to pay. The University of Seychelles is designed in a similar philosophy, and will be the training ground for students from all walks of life, from whatever background and age.
This is my dream for all Seychellois. We are a country which abounds with opportunities and we must take those opportunities seriously.
The future of the University of Seychelles depends on each and every Seychellois. Whether you are in government, in the private sector or in civil society, in the years to come the University of Seychelles will touch you, your family, your organization or your company.
We are indeed thankful of all the private companies that are sponsoring scholarships for our students. This demonstrates your support and confidence in this important development for Seychelles.
We grew from fifty-four students last year to over three hundred students this year and by 2012 the University of Seychelles will have more than five hundred students studying here.
In ten years from now, every family will have at least one graduate in the family. This will have a significant impact on the future prosperity of this country. More professionals imply that we can continue to innovate and adapt much faster to changing circumstances around the world.
Seychelles will require more professionals, and through the promotion of our knowledge-based economy, we will have more jobs for all of our graduates. We will also create new job opportunities and business incubators for our graduates.
In my 2007 address to the people for our National Day I spoke of the need to develop a knowledge-based economy. Today we are living in a knowledge-driven world and Seychelles is no exception. By moving into the knowledge era we are preparing Seychellois for the future.
The engine for this transformation is the University of Seychelles. By investing in training at tertiary level we can start putting together the essential ingredients for a knowledge-driven nation. The Undersea Fibre-Optic Cable Project is another development that will stimulate this transformation. Just as the airport and fishing ports transformed our economy, our high speed connection to the rest of the world, combined with the enhanced skills of our people, will open new areas for business and development.
The University of Seychelles is becoming established as a Microsoft Academy, CISCO academy and part of the Intel LEARN network. This strategic partnership will allow UNISEY to support this transformation. Combined with the IT centre of Excellence funded by the Indian Government and the IT Schools Project funded by the UAE government, the University of Seychelles will be an accelerator of business and technology in our country.
The University of Seychelles is also responsible for the training of teachers. Our recent agreement with Edith Cowan University, has given us permission to deliver their entire course here in Seychelles. This will give an additional boost to our local teachers.
This year the University of Seychelles enrolled 70 students who are now being prepared to follow their Bachelor’s degree in Education. This will undoubtedly enhance the quality of our education system as a whole.
Your Highness, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen
Many of our friends gathered here today have contributed towards the realisation of this vision in one way or another.
Our strategic partnership with the University of Paris 1 Pantheon-Sorbonne and the University of Reunion, reflects our aim of developing a trilingual university. The University of Seychelles is already offering a bilingual course in Tourism Management. We have also begun an A’Level equivalent (baccalaureat) in the French language in collaboration with the University of Reunion and are currently discussing the possibility of a French Law programme.
It is a great pleasure to acknowledge the presence of the registrars of both universities among us today. Thank you gentlemen, for your precious collaboration.
We shall soon open a faculty dedicated to research in the university - research is important to our future development. We need to better understand our failures and our successes.
Research will allow us to better adjust to our specific markets and increase our competitiveness. Research is important to every nation that wants to practice a rational economy.
The presence of the Research Institute for Development (IRD) and the University Cooperation for Research within the Indian Ocean Commission is testimony to your support in this effort.
I also take this oportunity to congratulate the university staff, most of whom are Seychellois, for the vision and passion which you share for your work.
The structure of our university allows you to enjoy a certain freedom in your academic work, which creates the right atmosphere for research and a forum for constructive debate. We must continue to encourage this in a responsible manner.
I ask you, today, to renew your support towards your students, to motivate them, to help them become more innovative, more independent, and to become elements of positive change in our society. Our students must be connected to the community. We have to anchor them in our communities.
A teacher, a professor, has one of the noblest missions that exist : to write the future of a nation.
To the new students, my request is that you put every effort into your studies. The success of our university depends on your hard work. Our university is on an international standard, so your performance reflects on us all as Seychellois. When you succeed, we all succeed.
We cannot take these opportunities lightly. These opportunities are costing our country a lot, and your parents and grandparents have undergone many sacrifices so that you may benefit from this university today. I suggest that you ponder this quote from the great Greek philosopher, Aristotle : The roots of education are bitter, but its fruit is sweet. Let this inspire you ; nothing comes easy in life.
I believe in the youth. I will always believe in the youth of this country. They are the ones who will raise our country to higher levels and go farther. We will go higher and farther when we develop the foundations of our education system, and we raise it to higher levels and to international standards. To ensure that this becomes a reality, my government will continue to invest in human resources development. In this context, I give my firm commitment to making tertiary education available to our students. They are the ones who will make us ready for the future.
Your Royal Highness, Ladies and Gentlemen,
The facilities that today host the University of Seychelles have an important history in the democratization of education in Seychelles. It was formerly the seat of the Seychelles Polytechnic which was entirely funded by the People’s Republic of China. It was this institution which established the platform for Seychellois to access university education, irrespective of social upbringing, status or wealth.
The Seychelles Polytechnic has been instrumental in getting us to where we are today.
Your Royal Highness, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
Our University is a demonstration of our determination as a nation. It is a reflection of our vision to provide equal opportunities to all our people.
It is a promise that I made when I assumed the presidency - that I will steer our country to a new phase of development that will bring more progress. Development that will continue to defend the principles of social justice and equal opportunity for all our citizens. Development that will continue to create the conditions that will foster the development of our youth.
Our university is here. Our students are here. Together, we are ready for the future.