The Ministry for Education and Human Resources Development (MEHRD) has announced that schools around the country will be closed on Friday 23rd October to allow the Electoral Commission (EC) to prepare for the final day of voting in the upcoming elections.
The Principal Secretary for Early Childhood, Primary and Secondary Education, Dr. Odile de Commarmond, made the announcement in a joint press conference held with the EC six days prior to the set election dates, namely 22nd 23rd and 24th of October.
Dr. de Commarmond explained that the schools will be closed so that the EC may set up and prepare the respective schools due to be used as polling stations.
However, as there are students currently sitting for the IGCSE exams, they will still go to school on the 23rd as the classrooms they will be using will not be affected by the preparations taking place.
“It is not a big group of students, it is only those who are sitting for their biology and chemistry exams who will be at the school for their exams, once they are done, they too will go home,” she explained.
Pupils attending Baie Ste Anne Praslin crèche as well as those at English River crèche will however leave school early on the 21st October, as those two crèches will be converted into special polling stations for essential workers, and in the case of Baie Ste Anne, it will cater for voters who are not registered to vote on Praslin, but who happen to be on the island temporarily, for example for work purposes..
Prior elections have been known to be held in schools. However, this is the first time that all main polling stations will be in the learning institutions.
The EC and MEHRD, also disclosed that maintenance work was also being carried out on certain schools that required it, so as to ensure that voting goes on as smoothly as possible in the schools.
Dr. de Commarmond added that once the elections are over, the EC has agreed to clean up the premises used as polling stations before handing them back to the schools.
She also explained that the schools will be closed for the shortest period of time to ensure students’ education is disrupted as little as possible – since pupils had previously been out of school due to the restriction on movement caused by the arrival of Covid 19 in the country.