Seychelles encouraging more students to study, remain in agricultural field

The government of Seychelles is looking for ways to encourage students who study at the Seychelles Institute of Agriculture and Horticulture (SIAH) to remain in the agriculture sector once they complete their studies.
A delegation made up of the ministries of employment, agriculture, and education visited the school on Tuesday to talk to the students and see areas that can be improved upon. There are currently 133 students at the school.
The minister for employment, Patricia Fancourt, said that a lot of work needs to be done in order to keep these students in the agricultural industry once they complete their studies.
“We already have a team in place that is working on our findings from these visits and now we want to get all partners involved together to ensure that a career in agriculture can be valued and be given the prestige that it deserves,” she said.
On his part, Minister for Agriculture Flavien Joubert spoke of the various aspects of agriculture that students need to know to get them more interested in the subject.
“Some students that we spoke to said that this school was their last choice and they only got it because they were rejected in their preferred choices,” said Joubert.
The Seychelles Institute of Agriculture and Horticulture based at Anse à la Mouche on the west coast of Mahe currently offers two courses: Advanced Certificate in General Agriculture and Advanced Certificate in Ornamental Horticulture and Landscaping.
“What we are asking of SIAH now is to offer other courses related to agriculture,” said the minister for education. “We also have to fund ways to encourage other students, including those who have completed the advanced level certificates to apply for courses being offered by this institute.”
He said that the courses should be not only on farming but on other subjects related and connected to agriculture.
Valentin also shared the sentiment that investment in the school’s facilities is needed if it is to attract more students to take up a career in agriculture.
During the visit, a number of students also expressed that there is this mindset the SIAH is a school for the least academic students that have completed secondary school.
“This mindset will only change with the types of courses being offered,” said the minister. “Courses need to be more attractive to students and also be a pathway towards higher education.”
Valentin said that although he is very satisfied with the determination of both the students and teachers at SIAH, he was disappointed at the lack of resources and facilities needed for such a school to function.
He said that the Ministry of Education will also have to invest in facilities necessary for the school to be able to provide these courses.
The institute was established 1998 by the then Ministry of Agriculture and Marine Resources and it currently has a land area of more than six hectares.
In an attempt to revive and strengthen the agricultural sector of the island nation in the western Indian Ocean, in July 2019 the cabinet of ministers approved a new policy facilitating graduates with access to parcels of state-owned lands for agricultural development.

Source: Seychelles News Agency