The 2014-19 Information Communications Technology (ICT) in Education and Training Policy defines ICT as “a diverse set of technological tools and resources used to communicate, and to create, disseminate, store, and manage information. These technologies include computers, the Internet, broadcasting technologies (radio and television), and telephony (including mobile phones) and other portable devices” (p. v). In parallel, the 2013 National Curriculum Framework states that ICT in the national curriculum “refers to the learning and teaching related to the functions and effective use of unified communication systems through multiple devices and media types. These include computers, digital data networks, the Internet, broadcasting technologies (radio and television), and telecommunication. They enable the acquisition, processing, storage and communication of information in an electronic form. This has significant implications for the design, realisation, evaluation, use and maintenance of information processing systems, including hardware, software, organisational and human aspects”.
The 2014-19 ICT in Education and Training Policy also defines Open Educational Resources (OER) as “educational and training materials, usually in digital form, that are shared freely and openly for anyone to use under some type of licence. OER materials can be repurposed, improved and redistributed. Open CourseWare (OCW): Open CourseWare (OCW) are course lessons created at universities and published freely via the internet” (p. v). In addition Open CourseWare (OCW) are “course lessons created at universities and published freely via the internet” (p. v).
The 2015 National Policy for Open and Distance Learning defines distance education as “a system of learning and teaching that is grounded in the principles of open and resource-based learning and takes place in different contexts at a multiplicity of sites, through a variety of mechanisms and learning and teaching approaches” (p. 4). The 2004 (2012) Education Act adds that “distance education” means an educational process in which a significant proportion of the teaching is conducted through one medium or a combination of media by persons removed in space or time from the learners.
Constitution and acts: The 1993 Constitution (consolidated to 1 June 2020) guarantees the right to education for all Seychellois, but does not explicitly mention the role of technology in education. The 2004 (2012) Education Act promotes the development of open and distance learning in institutions. The 2011 Tertiary Education Act also indicates that professional centres aim to foster a society capable of adapting to rapid technological change.
Policies: In 2001, the government launched the first National Distance/Open Learning Policy. The updated version, the 2015 National Policy for Open and Distance Learning, aims to “establish frameworks to facilitate private public partnership in the development and delivery of open and distance learning within, across the region and internationally”. The country has also the cross-sectoral 2007 National ICT Policy (NICTP), which calls for the provision of accessible, universal, affordable, reliable ICT facilities and services. It also states that the teaching of ICT should be included in both formal and informal education as well as shape distance education and activities relating to lifelong learning. The country has also a specific policy on ICT for education: the 2014-19 ICT in Education and Training Policy, which reaffirms the engagements that government, through the Ministry of Education and its public and private partners at national and international levels, “share to ensure that our young people have improved access to affordable opportunities presented by the information age, to better assist them in acquiring important ICT-related competencies for personal and national development” (p. Iii). It identifies the potential benefits of ICT in education, which are social, vocational and economic, pedagogical and catalytical and establishes the following nine strategic policy areas to ensure the integration of ICT in education and training: Infrastructure and connectivity; Teaching and learning; Open Education Resources; Licensing; Administration and management; Human resources; Governance, implementation and organisational arrangements; Monitoring and evaluation; and Actioning the policy. Moreover, the 2015 National Policy for Open and Distance Learning aims to “enhance flexible access to realistic, relevant, quality-assured and affordable programmes of learning through modes that offer realistic chances of success to the diversity of learners enrolled on ICT- related programmes” (p. 1).
Plans: Seychelles adopted the Information Technology Master Plan in 1999, and four years later, it established the Information Technology Division to provide strategic leadership to the implementation of the Plan. The 2007 National ICT Strategic Plan refers to the 2007 National ICT Policy for the promotion of ICT as a subject in schools. It promotes the use of ICT in all sectors, including the government itself and covers five areas of focus: ICT infrastructure; legal and regulatory frameworks; human resource development; ICT industry; and government. The 2018-22 and beyond Education Sector Medium-Term Strategic Plan also aims at enhancing the role of ICT in education.
Circulars: The Ministry of Education published the Education Circular No 1 of 2007 on guidelines for use of the Ministry of Education and Schools ICT facilities to ensure their safe and secure use.
Agreements: A number of ICT in education-related agreements have been signed, which include: the Memorandum of Understanding with Iceland Seychelles Group (2006); the Memorandum of Understanding with Microsoft Partners in Learning (2007); the Memorandum of Understanding with Cable and Wireless on Free Broadband Internet for School Programme (2007); the Memorandum on the Sheihk Khalifa ICT Project for Seychelles Primary Schools (2011); the Microsoft PiL Education Transformation Agreement (2013-2015); the Microsoft IT Academy Agreement (2014); and the Memorandum of Understanding with Intelvision for DTV for all Schools Project (2014).
Digital competency frameworks: In 2008, the Ministry of Education published the ICT competency framework document for secondary schools (full document not available). In addition, the 2014-19 ICT in Education and Training Policy supports the adoption of an ICT in Education and Training set of standards or ICT competencies for teachers across all levels and stages. To this end, the UNESCO ICT Competency Framework for Teachers (CFT) is considered to guide the professional development of educators.
Changes as a result of COVID-19: No legislation or policies to ensure online learning and teaching and to address privacy and data security issues appear to have been adopted or amended since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the MEHRD developed several guidelines to ensure that standards were maintained and three sub-committees have been set up to confirm the implementation of action plans, at daycare centres and child-minding services, primary and secondary schools, professional centres and the University of Seychelles. The Assessment of the socio-economic impact of COVID-19 in Seychelles (2020) also highlighted the need for the Government to regulate the cost of the Internet to facilitate new ways of working and support teleworking and e-learning.
2.2.1. Technology infrastructure and digital capacity of schools
The 1993 Constitution (revised in 2007) stipulates that the State recognises the right of every citizen to “afford every citizen equal access to educational facilities beyond the period of compulsory education” (Art. 33).
The 2014-19 ICT in Education and Training Policy aims to “take appropriate steps to enhance access to ICT and connectivity amongst all education and training stakeholders”. In parallel, the 2007 National ICT Policy aims to promote the “provision of accessible, universal, affordable, reliable, modern and high-quality levels of ICT facilities and services”. More specifically, it aims to promote effective utilisation of all installed ICT infrastructure, to encourage sharing and colocating of infrastructure and facilities and to encourage deployment and maintenance of networks. In addition, the 2015 National Policy for Open and Distance Learning is also based on the principle of accessibility, to ensure that all learners can access facilities. It also aims to provide adequate physical and technological facilities to open and distance learning institutions.
Electricity: Article 53 of the 2012 Energy Act stipulates that an electricity operator shall authorize an applicant to connect and have access to its transmission and distribution network, pursuant to the applicant complying with the conditions of connection and paying of fees and charges determined by the operator.
The 2014-19 ICT in Education and Training Policy aims to improve basic infrastructure at the classroom level, electrical outlets and physical security facilities where necessary.
Computers and devices: The 2011 Guidelines on Minimum Facilities Standards for Education and Training Institutions provide details of minimum requirements set by the Ministry of Education for the provision of physical facilities for learners by registered and approved educational institutions, which include a “computer room”, which must measure 1.875 square metres per learner.
The 2014-19 ICT in Education and Training Policy aimed to develop strategies that encourage ownership of individual mobile devices. It also aimed to establish a set of standards to “ensure purchases, donations and contributions of ICT equipment and services comply with set standards”. It also promoted cost effective access to learning opportunities in ICT to all. In this regard, the Policy considers strategies such as subsidisation of devices and offsetting the cost of the devices by preloading Open content in lieu of textbooks will be explored.
The 2018-22 and beyond Education Sector Medium-Term Strategic Plan also refers to a government programme of laptops for secondary school students and all teachers. The signing of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) in 2007 with Microsoft also aimed at “acquiring, deploying, and improving the use of ICT software and hardware” for all levels of the sector. It also identifies strategies such as subsidisation of devices and encourages a bring-your-own-device (BYOD) culture.
Internet connectivity: Access to Internet is unlimited and the authorities do not regulate the content of the Internet. The Ministry of Investment, Industries and Technology (MIIT) promotes improved universal access to basic ICT services such as Internet, hot spots and broadband Internet access, and ensures that tariffs are competitively priced.
The 2007 National ICT Policy also aimed to provide improved connectivity and to promote affordable access to computers and the Internet at the community level. Similarly, the 2014-19 ICT in Education and Training Policy aimed to expand and improve Internet access across the education system on an ongoing basis. In this regard, schools now benefit from an agreement with a local telecom that supplies connectivity. The Department of Information Communications Technology (DICT) also has the responsibility to focus on connectivity, network, and central systems hosting.
The internet capacity has improved considerably in 2017/18, after agreed terms for Internet Service Provider. The 2019-2023 National Development Strategy states three providers cater for the provision of the bandwidth in schools, namely the Seychelles Cable Systems Company, Cable and Wireless and Airtel and Intelvision. However, it stipulates that there exists “weak education-industry linkages which precipitate a mismatch between the supply and demand of advanced digital skills” (p. 63).
In 2010, a USD 47 million public-private partnership project (SEAS consortium) aimed to build a link to one of the international submarine fibre optic cables installed along the east coast of Africa significantly improved the country’s Internet connections and access to international telephone calls. Work on a second submarine cable is underway.
The Seychelles National Youth Council (SNYC) offers free internet access to all primary, secondary and post-secondary schools in the Broadband for Schools Programme, which includes a “secure and managed Internet sharing solution”.
2.2.2. Technology and learning environments
The Ministry of Education provided some tips on how to manage family life in isolation on its website as well as mental health wellness tips for quarantine.
The Ministry of Education and Human Resource Development (MEHRD) urged schools to conduct lessons online and introduce tele-education during the semi-lockdown. The Ministry of Education set up an online learning centre to reach all learners. The lessons and learning resources were being made available via the national broadcaster, Seychelles Broadcasting Corporation, private television TeleSesel and on the Internet. In addition, students were able to access their teachers through phone calls or WhatsApp for any clarification on lessons. Also, during the two-month closure, additional educational resources were uploaded on the MEHRD website for access by parents and students. The University of Seychelles did not undergo any interruption during the closure; teaching, learning and online exams were made possible through Microsoft 365 Teams, while WhatsApp, Zoom and Google classrooms were used extensively to facilitate learning.
The Ministry of Education collaborates with IT partners which include Microsoft, CDNetworks, NetDragon, Curious Learning, Coursera, Hamdan Bin Mohammed Smart University (HBMSU), Distance Education for Africa (DeA), NISAI Group, International Centre of Excellence for Innovative Learning (ICEFIL), UNESCO-INRULED, Commonwealth of Learning (COL), and UNESCO-IITE on the development of online teaching and learning platforms, online resources, especially for people with disabilities, digitisation of content and online courses for capacity building of teachers on the use of online platforms.
Technology is generally taught across subjects at all education levels. In 2000, the Ministry of Education’s policy Education for a Learning Society identified the integration of evolving technologies as a key principle of quality in all subjects. In 2008, the National Qualifications Framework Regulations established ICT as one of the four essential generic knowledge, skills, attitudes and values necessary for all qualifications. Furthermore, in 2013, the National Curriculum Framework identified ICT as one of the nine essential learning areas; it also acknowledged the importance of ICT as a subject matter as well as a tool for teaching and learning. In this regard, it stipulates that students should “acquire knowledge and understanding of the structure of ICT systems, the roles of these systems on organisations and their impact on society. They should also develop the ability to use a range of software packages in practical and real-life related contexts”. The 2014-19 ICT in Education and Training Policy aimed to “enhance and transform teaching and learning by embracing student-centred approaches and lifelong learning through the use of ICT”. It sought to “encourage the use of ICT in all learning areas, where appropriate, and not only within the subject of ICT domain, and the development and demonstration of emerging digital skills”. In addition, the 2007 National ICT Policy aimed to develop the teaching of ICT “at all levels of the formal education system” and to promote the use of ICT in the informal education sector. It also encouraged the use of ICT “by all educational, scientific and research institutions, libraries, archives, museums, and community centres”. It also encourages research and development in the ICT sector. Furthermore, the 2018-22 and beyond Education Sector Medium-Term Strategic Plan aims to promote the use of ICT in schools and encourage learners to achieve computer literacy and “acquire the necessary skills and competencies for participation in the information society”. It states that ICT skills are among the basic set of competencies and skills that all students must acquire, with reading and writing. Finally, the 2014 National Employment Policy and Strategies established the promotion of an information technology-literate and competent labour force as one of its seven policy objectives.
However, the government has made some progress in promoting ICT as a learning subject in the national curriculum. In 2006, the secondary school curriculum introduced ICT as a learning subject in schools. In 2007, the International General Certificate of Secondary Education (IGSCE) in Computer Science was also initiated.
More specifically, the 2013 National Curriculum Framework enables students to “Develop their knowledge, skills and understanding in ICT; Develop greater awareness of new and emerging technologies and their possible impact on Seychellois society; Understand the connections between ICT and other subject areas, and apply them in those subject areas as well as in other practical situations; Understand the impact of ICT on social, economic, ethical and moral aspects of life; Assess the impact of technologies so that they can take action based on informed decisions (including health and safety and environmental issues); Develop the capacity to analyse, design, implement, test and evaluate ICT systems; Develop knowledge and skills for the confident and critical use of ICT for learning, work and leisure; Understand the social and ethical dimensions of digital technologies, practice on-line etiquette and safety measures; Critically evaluate technological processes and products, taking into account cultural, environmental, economical and ethical factors; and Develop further as autonomous users of ICT.” In 2008, the Ministry of Education also published the ICT competency framework document for secondary schools (full document not available).
The 2011 Seychelles Framework for Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) does not refer explicitly to ICT. At the tertiary level, the University of Seychelles, opened in 2009, offers courses in computing and information systems. Students can gain qualifications from the University of London, in the United Kingdom, through its external programme. Study programmes include in-depth online research, and support and guidance are provided to help students develop these skills. The University of Seychelles, which has established ICT facilities that also link with state and non-state sector entities in the country, aims“to serve as a hub for the development of a knowledge-based society”. The 2019-2023 National Development Strategy also aims to improve the quality of basic education in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields and strengthen the linkage with productive sectors at technical and vocational education and training (TVET) and tertiary levels of education. At the Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) level, the 2018-22 National Human Resource Development Policy aims to create a more flexible system for the development of technical and technological skills. The Seychelles Institute of Technology (SIT) was established in 2015 as a professional centre providing high quality technical and vocational education and training in the information and communication technology field.
Finally, the Ministry of Health and Social Affairs launched its first national gender policy in 2016. This Policy aims to establish mechanisms to encourage women and girls to study STEM subjects and to develop, create and disseminate “sustainable technology that is responsive to women and men”. It also aims to “increase women’s access to ICT-resources and knowledge, especially to new communication technologies in a framework of respect for cultural diversity, as well as for regional and local needs and priorities” (Draft 7, 2012). In 2019, the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women noted the underrepresentation of girls and women in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) at the secondary and tertiary levels and their concentration of women and girls in traditionally female-dominated fields of study. It encouraged them to choose non-traditional fields of study, including STEM. The 2020 Voluntary National Review adds that the National Institute of Science, Technology and Innovation (NISTI) has taken the lead in reviving interest in STEM-related subjects among students, including girls, through the promotion of Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) clubs at secondary schools. It has also launched a national STEM programme at the extra-curricular level.
As mentioned, the 2014-19 ICT in Education and Training Policy recommends the adoption of an ICT in Education and Training set of standards or ICT competencies for teachers across all levels and stages and in the meantime, it supports in this respect the UNESCO ICT Competency Framework for Teachers (CFT) as a guide the professional development of educators.
At the level of initial teacher training, the Diploma in Education provides primary school teachers with the professional knowledge, skills and attributes in ICT and technology enterprise (as general studies areas). The Diploma in Education – Secondary specialises in one of nine areas, including technology enterprise.
At the level of in-service teacher training, the 2000 policy statement Education for A Learning Society stated that a continuous re-examination of teaching methods and strategies in the light of advances in educational technology “will be one of the trade-marks of the teacher committed to life-long professional development”. It also aimed to support teachers “making judicious use of education technology”.
The 2014-19 ICT in Education and Training Policy also aimed to “take appropriate steps to provide education and training stakeholders with opportunities to develop and refine requisite ICT skills to ensure they are competent and efficient users of educational technology”. This Policy also requests an ongoing teacher-self review on how best to maximise the potential of available ICT resources to develop wide a range of student competencies including higher-order skills. In this respect, the Ministry of Education also conducts a comprehensive audit regularly to determine training needs. Furthermore, the Policy calls for ongoing training in Open Education Resources (OER) and Open Courseware (OCW) for educators. In this regard, the Seychelles Institute of Teacher Education (SITE) has the responsibility to develop an ICT in Education online course that achieves the competencies described in the UNESCO ICT Competency Framework for Teachers. Also, the Ministry works with the Commonwealth of Learning to incorporate ongoing use of the Commonwealth Certificate for Teacher ICT Integration (CCTI) in Seychelles. Finally, the Policy also planned to develop an Education Portal aimed at learners, educators, parents and the wider education community. The Portal was meant, among other things, to allow online social interactions between teachers, to support their ongoing professional development.
In this regard, the 2020 Teacher Management and Development Policy is guided by principles and values including the capacity to respond to and manage new, changing and uncertain situations and technologies.
The 2015 National Policy for Open and Distance Learning stipulates that institutions providing open and distance learning must have “adequate trained open and distance learning-trained personnel”. In this respect, the Policy aims to establish and maintain an up-to-date database on the status of training, experience and competence profile of open and distance learning personnel and to develop a training plan for the personnel.
Finally, component 7 of the 2018-22 and beyond Education Sector Medium-Term Strategic Plan aims at enhancing the role of ICT in human resource development.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Ministry of Education and Human Resource Development held training sessions for teachers and support personnel as part of its operational plans concerning preparedness, precautionary and preventive measures against COVID-19. Despite this training, the Minister stated that teachers needed assistance in a variety of quality audio-visual teaching methodologies and capacity building “in all related areas from pre-school through to higher education which included the development of print-based content, digitizing and uploading content on online platforms and expertise in the development and production of audio-visual materials”. In this regard, Seychelles plans to strengthen its workforce of ICT professionals and to “maintain the UN prescribed “affordability” target, and the more demanding target set by the Alliance for Affordable Internet (A4AI)”.
The 2014-19 ICT in Education and Training Policy aims to ensure the protection of learners: “Interventions shall provid[e] for adequate protection from the potential negative impact” of all ICT experiences. It also aims to ensure safety and security across educational institutions through the development of standards for all teaching and training institutions and teachers. In parallel, the 2007 National ICT Policy promotes “confidence for engagement with the information society through the enactment of legislation addressing issues including, inter alia, computer and computer-related crime, consumer protection, intellectual property rights, dispute resolution and security”.
2.4.1. Data privacy
The 1998 Computer Misuse Act (consolidated in 2015) provides guidance on different offences relating to the collection, processing, and storage of personal data. In addition, the 2001 Electronic Transactions Act aims to ensure that computer hardware, software and procedures are “reasonably secure from intrusion and misuse; provide a reasonable level of reliability and correct operation; and adhere to generally accepted security procedures”. It also ensures that the secrecy and privacy of digital signatures are assured, and identifies penalties for breach of confidentiality and privacy.
The 2014-19 ICT in Education and Training Policy is also aligned with the 2014 Copyright Act. In this regard, the Ministry has to maintain the use of and access to licensed copyrighted software. Also, authors of education and training materials produced with government funds are entitled to apply licence restrictions from the Creative Commons licence framework. Seychelles has not signed the Marrakesh Treaty to Facilitate Access to Published Works for Persons Who Are Blind, Visually Impaired or Otherwise Print Disabled.
Seychelles does not have a specific cybercrime strategy, but the Police Strategic Plan 2017 to 2019 refers cybercrime. Legislation on cybercrime has been enacted by the 1998 Computer Misuse Act. It criminalises unauthorised access to computers with or without criminal intent (Art. 3 and 4); unauthorised modification of computer material (Art. 6) and attempt and conspiracy (Art. 7).
2.4.2. Online abuse and cyberbullying
The national anti-bullying policy and strategy for primary, secondary schools and professional centres, which includes cyber-bullying, was finalized in 2018. There is no Cyber Investigation Authority in the country.
The 2007 National ICT Policy highlights the crucial participation and involvement of all key ICT stakeholders from the Government, civil society and private sector.
The Department of Information Communications Technology (DICT), which has the mandate for the development of ICT nationally, aims to provide information systems “which will support decision-making in government and delivery of government services in terms of efficiency and effectiveness”. It sets direction and plans for the ICT infrastructure of government. The development of the Department of ICT is an important undertaking by the government, which illustrates the recognition of the vital role that access to ICT can have on the progress of the country as a whole. In 2010, the government announced the creation of a Technology and Innovation Council.
The Ministry of Education and Human Development, in collaboration with local and international partners, at the level of both government and private, coordinates the integration of ICT in education and training. It is tasked with the installation of new ICT, maintenance and upgrading of existing ICT facilities. The Ministry of Education’s authority responsible for Curriculum and Assessment also has the responsibility to investigate, collect, store and distribute quality open digital education materials “that match the curriculum objectives and use the education portal to disseminate them”. The Ministry of Education is also required to submit annual projections of costs for review and be allocated an annual budget that allows it to perform these tasks. In addition, the Seychelles Institute of Technology (SIT), which operates under the aegis of the Ministry of Education, is a technical and vocational education and training (TVET) Institution established as a Professional Centre from January 2015 under the Tertiary Education Act (TEA) 2011. The Policy Planning and Performance Monitoring and Evaluation Division is also helping educational institutions in updating their databases three times a year, monitoring indicators on ICT. Finally, the Ministry of Education undertakes to strengthen the leadership and capacity of the open and distance learning governance.
The 2007 National ICT Policy (NICTP) attempts, more broadly, to harmonize and coordinate all ICT initiatives towards a common set of objectives. To do so, “it is imperative that all partners and stakeholders of the policy pull together in the same direction”. In parallel, the 2014-19 ICT in Education and Training Policy aims to provide an agreed framework to “clarify the roles and responsibilities of key partners and stakeholders in the process of integration of ICT in education and institutionalisation of an ICT culture”. It also ensures the effective coordination of the ICT in education initiatives and constitutes an “established institutional mechanism” to provide institutional leadership to these initiatives. It also aims to ensure that “stakeholders are supportive to one another”. Finally, the Policy states that an ICT in Education Steering Committee both at the level of the Ministry (chaired by a senior official of the Ministry) and at the level of education and training institutions assist in managing the development of the ICT Plan.
The 2014-19 ICT in Education and Training Policy states that, at the schools level, a structured focus will be placed on “integrating school ICT coordinators and learners into maintenance teams” to enhance maintenance capacity and provide grounded learning opportunities for learners. In addition, institutions are responsible for adopting an adequate annual budget allocation to ensure the sustainable operation, maintenance and development of ICT systems; to ensure the location of ICT and access; to develop ICT resources; and to provide teachers and support personnel with adequate access to ICT facilities. Since 2015, the Ministry of Education has prohibited students from using mobile phones during school hours. A guideline on the use of mobile phones was already part of the schools' code of conduct, but since 2015 this ban has been clearly identified in a defined policy. The policy states that any student who violates the ban will have his or her mobile phone confiscated. Teachers are also not permitted to carry their mobile phones in the classroom.