Change in the Indian Ocean
From the prospect of a new fleet of nuclear-powered submarines patrolling the ocean, to a report from COP-26 on how the outcomes from Glasgow might affect the Blue Economy research agenda: these are just two of the items in the latest issue of the Seychelles Research Journal. In contrast, other topics look at more gradual processes that affect the region, like the international study to monitor the effects of fish consumption on child development, and the contribution of the Catholic Church to progressive changes in the school curriculum in Mauritius. Further articles on a transitional justice system for Seychelles, flood management, and tourism illustrate not only the many dimensions of research but also how lessons can be taken from other small island states in the Indian Ocean.
AUKUS is the name of the new pact that will enable Australia to build its own submarine fleet, using the latest technologies. First responses suggest it will have far-reaching effects on the geopolitics of not only the Indian Ocean but the more extensive Indo-Pacific. Dennis Hardy sets the scene on what it all means and welcomes the perspectives of four international specialists, who each assess the impact on different countries: David Brewster on Australia, Nilanthi Samaranayake on the US, Jivanta Schottli on India, and Christian Bueger on small island states like Seychelles.
From the heady subject of AUKUS, the next article takes a more considered view of how the Catholic Church in Mauritius has influenced the national school curriculum. Catholic schools are now in a minority but remain sufficiently influential to encourage different aspects of curriculum change. In this article, Pascal Nadal, Gilberte Chung Kim Chung and Jimmy Harmon highlight three particular initiatives: one is about the importance of inclusive education and related approaches to learning, a second embraces the field of education for sustainability, and the third the issue of mother-tongue-based multilingual education.
Just when the courts in Seychelles are investigating high-profile cases of alleged corruption and arms possession, Diana Benoit delves back to the time of the 1977 coup and subsequent single-party rule. The title of her article, ‘How is Seychelles dealing with its past’, is especially apt and highlights the ongoing work of the Truth, Reconciliation and National Unity Commission. Even if there is clarity about some of the events of that earlier period, the hearings to date show that the task of achieving justice is more intractable.
Yatin Jokhun is a former lecturer at UniSey, who has now returned to his home in Mauritius. With a fellow academic, S. Mohammed Irshad, he puts a spotlight on disaster risk management and, in particular, the perennial issue of floods. Although climate change is invariably blamed for their regular occurrence, the authors believe that more effective policies for flood control are possible. They also point to political factors and issues of private property to show the main impediments.
In another article, Hervé Atayi builds on his earlier research on tourism with a study of another aspect with practical implications. This time he focuses on the importance of image in determining a visitor’s destination. Tourists arrive with a particular image of Seychelles but where does this originate and does it change by the time they leave? To strengthen the research, he acknowledges that comparative findings would be helpful and suggests a parallel study in Mauritius.
Conferences provide an important measure of research progress and in this issue we are able to draw on both a person-to-person event and a virtual gathering of experts. For the first, Angelique Pouponneau found time while in Glasgow to share her thoughts on how COP-26 might influence research in Seychelles and beyond. The fact that she entitles her report, ‘A Win for SIDS?’, indicates the carefully considered nature of her conclusions; on balance, though, she can identify some productive lines for future research.
In the second conference, Emelyn Shroff reported on a virtual event that centered around issues of children’s development and fish consumption. The subject has been investigated since the 1980s in Seychelles by an international research team and is renowned for its authoritative findings. It remains the view that there are beneficial effects due to important nutrients in fish that can outweigh potential mercury toxicity, although concerns are raised about overfishing and the reduction of fish consumption in children’s diets.
Once again, we thank our sponsor, The East Indies Co., for generous support in funding this journal. This is greatly appreciated by the journal team and the University of Seychelles. It is no coincidence that we are working with a company that has coined the byline, ‘East Indies – for those who want the best’.
Seychelles Research Journal is a publication of the University of Seychelles. The journal is published twice yearly and access is free. Present and past issues can be viewed online at www.seychellesresearchjournal.com
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