30 October 2023 | Education.
First Lady – Mrs. Linda Ramkalawan
Vice President of the Republic
Speaker of the National Assembly
Chairperson of World Heritage Group & IECD’s UNESCO Category 2 Centre Governing Board – Dr. Mmantsetsa Marope
Regional Director & UNESCO Representative on Governing Board - Mr. Alexandros Makarigakis,
Chairman of IECD Local Board, Capt. Davis Savy, Chief Executive Officer, Mrs. Shirley Choppy & Staff of the Institute of Early Childhood Development
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is with a great sense of pleasure and pride that I extend a warm welcome to all of you who are sharing with the people of Seychelles, this momentous occasion. Allow me to convey my warmest wishes to our international partners, who have joined us for this memorable event.
We are today celebrating the achievements of a small government entity, the Institute of Early Childhood Development, which has accomplished one of its major milestones, the global recognition and designation as a Category 2 Centre for ECCE under the auspices of UNESCO. This feat is of immense significance not only for the Institute but for our small island nation, which is showing that we may be small in size, population and economy but we can achieve high standards in the field of Early Childhood Care and Education.
The ECCE agenda in Seychelles has been propelled to the next level through high level strategic direction, strong institutional leadership and multi sectoral collaboration. Throughout its short journey, the Institute of Early Childhood Development has undergone major transformation and made remarkable achievements in the domains of standards setting and quality assurance, policy development and coordination, advocacy and capacity building, as well as research and knowledge production.
In all these areas, it has built strong cooperation and collaborated with relevant local and international authorities in an effort to establish itself and gain global recognition. Our small island state has been able to record such progress because we wasted no time to start working towards our vision for our young children.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Like all newly created institutions, at its inception, IECD had its dreams, its ambitions and aspirations. It has worked relentlessly to convert them into the tangible realities that we are witnessing today. Its new mandate will give it more scope to engage with regional and international communities to build capacity for ECCE, promote collaboration and strengthen networks for knowledge transfer and sharing of best practices in an effort to further enhance the ECCE landscape in the region and beyond.
When it comes to taking care of our young children, the Seychelles Government will continue to show its firm commitment. This is in line with the Government’s fundamental principles and best practices to build a strong and resilient society for all our citizens. We have reasons to be proud of our achievements, past and present, in promoting child development and well-being. Globally we have done well with regards to our indicators for education, health and welfare. We have achieved universal primary education and we are signatories to international conventions and frameworks linked with child development and protection.
As a country we are fully committed to achieving the SDGs by 2030, especially SDG 4, target 4.2 which aims to ensure that all girls and boys have access to quality pre-primary care and education to enable them to be ready for primary school.
As a small island developing state, like other SIDS, we face the same vulnerability challenges of limited financial resources, natural calamities exacerbated by climate change, social inequalities, and threats of global instability. We are aware that addressing these critical challenges is crucial to making progress towards a more sustainable and equitable future especially for our young children.
We remain hopeful that our strong and unified voices will be heard and our concerted efforts will allow us to make progress. We are all cognizant of the fact that our continued progress depends largely on a well-educated and healthy population. It all starts with giving our children a strong foundation. For this, we are determined to join hands and work collaboratively with other countries and international bodies to create the optimal conditions for a sustainable world.
Ladies and gentlemen, allow me at this juncture to express my country’s deep appreciation and sincere gratitude to UNESCO for technical support and assistance in bridging gaps and paving the way forward. Thank you to the Director General of UNESCO, Ms. Audray Azoulay and Assistant Director, Mrs. Stefania Gianini, for appraising and recognizing the inherent strengths and potential of IECD Seychelles to undergo such tremendous transformation within a short period of time.
The UNESCO International Bureau of Education proved to be an invaluable advisor and collaborator. As IECD makes its entrance into a new era of development, we will continue to look to UNESCO as a faithful partner and seek its continued support and guidance.
The Seychelles Government would also like to thank the Member States and Associate Members of UNESCO for acknowledging IECD’s achievements and for offering their resounding support in the process of its transformation into a Category 2 Centre for ECCE.
We are indebted to the UNESCO Secretariat for embracing and actualizing the decision of the Member States and also for accompanying the Seychelles in the whole process. Thank you to all other international partners and collaborators for the sharing of expertise and strong collaboration.
Throughout its journey and in all its endeavors, IECD has enjoyed the support of experts in the field of early childhood care and education. One of these is no other that Dr. Marope, who was working as the Director of UNESCO International Bureau of Education, and who has been an instrumental partner, advisor and critical friend, and has given a lot of assistance and support to Seychelles allowing it to reach the height it has in the field.
As recognition for all that we have been able to gain from her professional expertise and wholehearted assistance, Dr. Marope has been appointed the chairperson of IECD’s Governing Board as per its new mandate. Thank you for accepting the responsibility and I wish you well in the new tasks ahead. I am confident that under your leadership the Institute will deliver on its mandate and move from strength to strength. I take this opportunity to extend my best wishes to all other board members.
I would also like to acknowledge the support of the United Arab Emirates in providing the financing for the construction of the centre due to begin soon. This will be another big step in itself, for which we are most grateful.
To the Institute’s Board, Management and Staff, past and present, I convey my heartfelt gratitude. If IECD is where it is today, it has been due to their hard work, dedication and commitment to the Institute’s mission, that every child develops holistically, has positive learning experiences and a strong foundation for success throughout life.
Special thanks and appreciation go to the Sectors in ECCE – Health, Social, Community Development, Education & Family Department, in particular the Chairpersons of the Technical Committees for their steadfast support and proactive engagement.
Finally, but very importantly, a word of thanks goes to all ECCE service providers in home-based and centre-based child care establishments, to stakeholders and partners, and parents who have collaborated with IECD and shared its vision.
Seychelles will remain steadfast in its support for the Institute as a Centre of excellence, a model of good practice, while ensuring it delivers according to its new international mandate. We will assume our responsibility to provide the resources needed for the administration and proper functioning of the Centre, in accordance with the UNESCO Agreement.
We have reached this far and the future is full of promise. IECD will continue its journey into a new era with renewed strength and vigour and the same burning passion to cooperate with its partners, at both local and global levels and work collaboratively to providing all young children a strong and winning start to enjoy love, good health, care and protection, respect and learning opportunities in order to develop the strength and resilience needed to cope in a rapidly changing world and be prepared for a better tomorrow. In this endeavor I convey to the Institute my warmest wishes for continued success.
Ladies and gentlemen, it is with immense pleasure that I officially inaugurate the Seychelles Institute of Early Childhood Development as the new Category 2 Centre for ECCE under the auspices of UNESCO with a global mandate.