Mauritius Country Liaison
Mahendranath Busgopaul, Halley Movement
Last updated February 2017
Summary of Child Welfare Activities in 2016: Mauritius
Global Day of Citizen Action – Mauritius
Global Day of Citizen Action (GDCA) - Mauritius 2016 was held on Saturday, 14 May 2016, at the Plaisance Community Centre in Mauritius. This event was organized by Halley Movement, a coalition of charitable organizations working for the welfare of children and families in Mauritius and the Southern Africa region. The event attracted approximately 70 stakeholders from more than 20 community-based organizations. Among them were several high-level representatives of the community, including members of the legislative assembly and foreign embassies.
The NGO Consultative meeting, co-organized by Halley Movement in close collaboration with civil society facilitators, has proven to be an efficient mechanism for coordinating community implementation activities in terms of information exchange, creation of knowledge, and sharing of best practices to advance the UN development goals. Participants also noted the need to respect the principles of equality and non-discrimination. Planning policies should be implemented in a participatory, transparent, and accountable manner.
Good Digital Parenting
Halley Movement and PAN-Mauritius Coalition (Parenting in Africa – Mauritius Chapter) launched the “Good Digital Parenting” National Campaign in Mauritius on 11 August 2016. Parents of Vacoas-Phoenix township attended the launch, as did the South African Deputy Ambassador and the mayor of the township.
This innovative campaign targeted parents who have been empowered to gain a strong understanding of the risks, harms, and rewards that come with their child being online. The Good Digital Parenting campaign has identified ways to mitigate the harms so that parents and children can reap the rewards of digital technology.
The Coalition has traveled to several places in Mauritius and Rodrigues Island to target thousands of parents and disseminated the mission message that “We all want to be good parents and raise our children as well as we can.”
Mauritius International Exchange Partnership Towards Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
In the context of the Mauritius International Exchange Partnership Towards Agenda 2030 for SDGs, Defence for Children International (DCI) hosted an international event spanning the months of July and August 2016. The organization welcomed international participants from:
· Republic of China
· Hong Kong
The participants of this international exchange partnership, who were between 20 to 23 years old, shared experiences and showcased their activities in their respective countries with respect to problems facing children, as well as family and social networking issues. The international participants were also briefed on the projects that DCI ran and our national programs toward achieving the SDGs. The objective of the Mauritius Partnership Exchange Towards Agenda 2030 for SDGs presented an opportunity for Halley Movement and the international representatives to share lessons learned from past and ongoing experiences with activities associated with the SDGs and discussed challenges and opportunities for sustainable community development in the future, referring to experiences gathered from the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and the ongoing international policy process toward negotiation and the new SDGs.
January 2017 Update
Every year, some 7,000 children age 12 drop out of the primary school system in Mauritius after having failed their Terminal Certificate of Primary Education twice. While the formal school system—mostly government schools, also known as pre-vocational schools—will absorb about 1,000 of these children annually, the rest are left on their own. The children who have dropped out of school find themselves deprived of any further education; most often, these children are from lower socioeconomic backgrounds. The Halley Movement in Mauritius (www.halleymovement.org) works to provide free education to these adolescents to help them achieve useful skills and also help them to go through a re-examination that will permit them to enroll in a secondary school for higher education. The BETA (Basic Education to Adolescents) Program provides opportunities for approximately 30 adolescents every year, from six rural regions in Mauritius. The courses in this no-fee program are provided by trained educators who are specialists in functional literacy, information and communications technology (ICT), and numeracy skills.
My responsibility, as coordinator and founder of the BETA program since 1998, has been to work with international and local organizations to design and scale up this initiative, collaborate with the government, influence partners to join in the program as funders, resolve conflicts between parents from the local communities and ethnic groups, and negotiate with education agencies to ensure access to quality education. Negotiations with state and non-state organizations have been carried out through various meetings and workshops organized by the Halley Movement to set up and establish common goals and agreement. Diplomacy focused on human rights has been used during these negotiations. Moreover, participation of the civil society has addressed the issue of school drop-outs through workshops that have been carried out in public gatherings and through sensitization campaigns among parents of low socioeconomic status.
This program has benefitted from the financial support of UNICEF, United Way, and several corporate sector partners. Negotiations have been going on with each partner, as each one has different approaches related to funding criteria and needs. With government support through the Ministry of ICT, Halley Movement has been able to cope with every single challenge—ranging from conflicts to resource management. Many times, an agreement was reached by “negotiation by exhaustion”; that is, a final deal was reached after 24 to 48 hours of negotiations, where we worked around the clock, with little rest, to reach a final deal. This experience helped our organization reach positive outcomes.
Agreements have recently been concluded with some private sector firms in the neighborhood to enlist learners in the BETA Program as “apprentices” in their firms. Skills that are required by the firms involve basic ICT knowledge and skills, proficiency in French and English, and numeracy skills. This upcoming opportunity for these marginalized adolescents will open a door for them to start earning and establish themselves in the working world. As a coordinator, I have identified the various regions and families in Mauritius who are most in need of help and guidance. As part of my work at Halley Movement, we have tried to provide the basic necessities to the children and young people to help them move ahead in life. However, I feel more can be done within this context. Unfortunately, Halley Movement cannot reach every household to identify children and young people, due to lack of volunteers and resources. We need more collaboration within the civil society to increase our impact, and reach more young people.
Update From March 2015
The objectives for the education sector of Mauritius are sustaining equitable access to quality education and ensuring that all learners attain high levels of achievement in literacy, numeracy, information and communications technology, and such essential life skills as sound human values, healthy lifestyle, and so forth as the basis for lifelong learning and good citizenship. Another priority is ensuring that all students are given the opportunity to embark on and complete secondary education to enhance their employability and to be able to access higher education and training when they gain their maturity.
Our last survey, conducted in March 2015, identified 939 pre-primary schools in the country, with an enrollment of 29,832 children (50% girls), and 320 primary schools, with an enrollment of 103,642 pupils (51% boys). Secondary education was provided by 177 schools to 114,311 students (52% girls). Tertiary level enrollment was at almost the same level as in 2013: 50,608 students in 2014, compared to 50,579 in 2013.
A new educational project is in the pipeline: nine-year schooling. It was announced by the Minister of Education and Human Resources, Tertiary Education and Scientific Research in her statement at the National Assembly on the 5 March 2015. There will no longer be a CPE (Certificate of Primary Education) examination. Instead, the PSAC (Primary School Achievement Certificate) will pave the way for the Nine Year Schooling Project.
Summary of Activities
ACEI-Mauritius, with Halley Movement as the lead, conducted a series of community-based activities through Action2015/Mauritius. All the activities pertained to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The following summarizes activities conducted by ACEI and the Coalition:
- Official Launching of Action2015/Mauritius
Action 2015/Mauritius was launched on 15 January 2015, at Le Labourdonnais Waterfront Hotel, Port-Louis, Mauritius. Guests who attended the launch included State Ministers of Gender Equality, Child Development and Family Welfare and Minister of Environment, National Emergency Centre and Beach Authority. The launch was attended by 60 participants, including 15 young people (15-year-olds).
- National Day Celebrations for BETA (Basic Education to Adolescents) Programme
A national day event was organized on 14 March 2015, at Batimarais Community Centre for 30 BETA (Basic Education to Adolescents) Learners. The Chief Guest was the Chairman of the Savanne District Council, Mr. Rajiv Luchman. Other guests included District Counsellors. Parents of the learners also attended the ceremony. A video projection depicting the work during the past year was shown. All learners were presented with educational materials, including pencil cases, flyers, stickers, educational SDs, and posters.
- Global Day of Citizen Action
A one-day workshop on Citizen Action was organized at the headquarters of Halley Movement on 16 May 2015. It was attended by representatives of non-governmental organizations and others in partnership with Halley Movement. The chief guest was H.E. Dr. N. Nokwe, High Commissioner of South Africa.
- Capacity Building for Girls and Women on Gender & ICT
A two-day workshop was organized at Ferney Community Centre for approximately 150 participants. Guests who attended were Hon. Minister Mr. P. Koonjoo and Mrs. S. Boygah, Private Parliamentary Secretary. The purpose of the training was to explore the impact of the internet on women and girls, focusing on ways the internet is enabling, threatening, and altering the exercise of certain rights by women and girls in Mauritius.
- Outreach Seminars for Village Leaders
Two one-day seminars were organized at the Moka District Council, Quartier Millitaire and at Belle Mare. Guests who attended were Hon. Minister of Youth and Sports and Hon. Minister of Education.
- National Rally for Young People
On 1 August 2015, a National Youth Rally was organized as a prelude to sensitizing young people about the SDGs and to celebrate International Youth Day. The rally was launched by Hon. Minister Mahen Seeruttun, Ministry of Agro-Industry and Food Security. The rally included approximately 400 young people, who traveled to various regions of the country in order to discuss youth-oriented topics, such as youth decision making, youth finance, and climate change. It started at Rose-Belle at 9:30 a.m., continued at Triolet at 12:00 p.m., and then ended at Helvetia Youth Centre at 16:00 p.m.
For more information:
Halley Movement: NGO working for child and family in Africa and Indian Ocean region: http://halleymovement.org/