In Search of the New Normal
The pandemic refuses to go away. Just when we think the world might be recovering, we hear of a new variant or another outbreak in one country or another. Although we will find ways to live with it, things will never be the same again. But humans are a smart species and ‘different’ doesn’t necessarily mean ‘worse’. It’s up to us to shape the new normal. So, what will it look like?
This present issue of Seychelles Research Journal was not designed specifically to answer this question but it’s clear that for various authors it was foremost in their mind. Not surprisingly, the Blue Economy comes in for particular scrutiny. The concept has enormous potential but it’s not yet the lifesaver that Seychelles needs: activities are still quite narrowly based and investment to date has been limited. In an important article, Angelique Pouponneau investigates the impact of Covid-19 on Seychelles and suggests ways in which, through an inventive and sustainable use of the ocean, the economy can become more resilient.
As a note of caution, later in the journal a review of a recent book by Peter Rudge argues that the country should not rely on the Blue Economy alone but should seek additional approaches. For this he looks primarily to the cultural and creative industries, not in a traditional sense so much as through their digitalization. For once-remote small island states, the global economy is now more accessible than ever before. Digitalization can offer new sources of revenue and contribute to economic diversification; it should be, he says, ‘front and centre’ of a radically different approach.
Even with an enhanced Blue Economy and with a nuanced contribution of the creative arts, tourism will probably remain the country’s core activity for the foreseeable future. For that reason, two further articles in this issue look at ways to make tourism more attractive. Hervé Atayi explores the authenticity of what is on offer in tourist venues, with an underlying belief that more discerning visitors will value genuine cultural attractions. Meanwhile, at a more functional level, two researchers from Germany, Benno Rothstein and Drenushe Nuhiu, offer the results of a survey of electricity use in luxury hotels in Seychelles. The erratic supply of renewable sources of energy can be balanced, they argue, through greater control of conventional flows. It is part of a general argument that tourism has to be more sustainable.
Change will be the watchword in this journey towards the new normal and for that to be effective, education is the key. Three articles in this issue examine different aspects of the part it can play. As the recent CEO of the Tertiary Education Commission, Jean-Pierre Domingue is well placed to describe a menu for this sector. He shows how the system has come about and how it now needs to further evolve. In fact, the design of a new Tertiary Education Act was in the pipeline before the pandemic struck. Given the present scenario, some smart new thinking is now in order.
To help in setting a sharper focus, Emma Padayachy reports on how institutions are already adjusting. One obvious way is through the greater use of distance-learning methods. It is unlikely that these will ever totally replace face-to-face teaching but a blended approach might offer the best of both worlds. Finally, Dennis Hardy locates the place of university education in Seychelles in the context of what is on offer in neighbouring small island states in the Indian Ocean. He asks if there is scope for greater collaboration in teaching and research, particularly as we become more accomplished in the use of new technologies to reduce expensive and time-consuming travel.
Some things, however, will remain much as they were in the old normal. Godknows Mudimu reminds us of the timeworn challenge of administering fair sentences to criminals. At one extreme is the practice of leaving it to individual judges to make decisions, at the other end of the spectrum is the use of prescribed sentences. Both have their virtues but neither can fully meet all circumstances.
This is the sixth issue of the journal, published by the University of Seychelles. For such a small island state, the volume and diversity of research is remarkable and bodes well for a successful transition to the post-pandemic world. In supporting publication of the journal, our gratitude once again is due to our generous sponsor, the East Indies Co., with whom a common link is our shared commitment to ‘quality’.
Seychelles Research Journal is a free, online publication that can accessed at www.seychellesresearchjournal.com
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