Profile of Marvel Simeon

‘Change and challenges should be regarded not as barriers but stepping stones in life’s journey’

To work with young children, above all, one needs patience and passion. Tried and tested by Marvel Simeon, a young mother of 3 children, who started her education at the Anse Etoile primary then proceeded to English River secondary. She graduated from the National Institute of Health and Social Studies (NIHSS) with a diploma in Environmental Science. She refers to her children, all still in primary school, as the greatest joy in life.

Her first job was as a public health officer in the Ministry of Health. She was based at English River Clinic and conducted regular visits to check on community health, identify health hazards, and advocate for good health practices. She has also worked as a health and safety officer for Barclays Bank, now known as Absa.

With the birth of her twin daughters, she had to quit her job to care for them for three years. She learned a lot about early childhood and child development while caring for her children, which ignited an interest and desire to work with young children. She refers to this as a calling, and this is what pushed her to join the Ministry of Education as a supply teacher at the Beau Vallon primary school, where she worked for three years.

When the opportunity presented itself for her to work with young children at a national level, she joined the Institute of Early Childhood Development (IECD) in the monitoring and evaluation officer position that she has held until now. The knowledge, skills and experience she has amassed in her previous jobs came in handy in the new job. She has to carry out inspection visits to centre-based and home-based child care establishments and check on the implementation of the National Standards Childminding Services.
Ms Simeon took on this new role with much enthusiasm, confidence, zeal and has developed a strong working relationship with her caregiver colleagues. She provides support to child caregivers and puts a lot of emphasis on improving the quality of service they give. Part of her duties, as an inspector, includes ensuring the implementation of the mandatory standards before the registration for childminding services. She conducts inspection visits to ensure compliance, which involves other partners such as health, social affairs and fire safety.

While working with the IECD, she gained numerous personal and professional development opportunities, both at national and international levels. The executive leadership course she attended at TGMI in 2018 equipped her with the skills necessary to lead and manage in preparation for higher-level employment. She participated in the Seychelles International Conference in 2018 under the theme ‘Big Data for Small Children’. The Early Development Conference under the banner ‘Investing in Early Childhood’ held in Rwanda in 2019 were meaningful experiences that helped her better understand early childhood and education issues, which proved beneficial to her work.

As part of the small but committed IECD team, she has the added responsibilities of facilitator for the standard on ‘Administration’ in the Pre-Registration training programme for childminders and coordinator for Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) for candidates in childcare settings, an IECD joint venture with the Seychelles Qualifications Authority (SQA).

She states that her IECD experience was wide-ranging and not without its challenges. However, Ms Simeon has taken all this in her stride. With the assistance of the management and dedicated team, she has been instrumental in planning, leading and successfully implementing a few small projects for the benefit of young children. These include the ‘Kiddies Day Out’ activity to bring children in different childminding settings together for play and interaction. The production of mid-morning snack booklet gives ideas on healthy snacks for young children at mid-morning. Finally, an action research project to provide hands on support to childminder to improve practice and the level of compliance to national standards. Her expertise was enhanced by participating in professional development sessions on various topics ranging from child development, the importance of play in early childhood to child with special needs and budget management.

As part of the wider community, Ms Simeon works with ECCE professionals in other fields as a member of the suitability check panel under the purview of the department of Social Affairs, responsible for assessing prospective childminders’ suitability. The assessment involves interviews, observations and home visits.

As a practising Christian, she is a Sunday school teacher for young children at the New Testament Church based in Mont Fleuri.

Ms Simeon has a positive outlook on life. She is friendly, calm, considerate and respectful, with a great love for young children. The latter shines through when Ms Simeon interacts with them. She is well respected among colleagues and can easily alternate between team leader and team player. She always strives to achieve the highest standard possible in any given task.

Even though she did not start her career in early childhood education and did not possess formal qualifications in this specific field, Ms Simeon’s early childhood career has been rewarding and satisfying. The right motivation, strong will, devotion, an innate love for young children, with a wish to see them develop to the fullest, demonstrates how one can adapt to a career change and become successful. She refers to the young children as “the little people with so much love to give who are dependent on the adults for protection, care, guidance, education and above all reciprocated love”.
She cannot envisage a future without being around them because, after much reflection, Ms Simeon has decided to step into new responsibilities taking her closer to child care and development. As of January 2022, she will be the proud operator of a new daycare centre in the district of Glacis, a job that will allow her to practice all aspects of childcare and education services she has learnt and experienced at IECD. She is preparing herself for this new challenge and hopes to remain in the ECCE field and fuel her passion for many years to come.
Her vision is IECD upholding its reputation as the leading organisation in early childhood care and education in Seychelles while developing and implementing new initiatives to take it to the next level where it will gain the status of a Unesco Category II Centre for ECCE at international level. Her dream is to see the institute operating in its new custom-built premises.

Ms Simeon applauds all fellow professionals in ECCE and implores them to continue the excellent work in shaping the young generation she refers to as “the young ambassadors”.

Her advice to young people in the work place is to appreciate the career they have and the contribution they are making in society. She encourages those thinking of taking up a job in ECCE. Like herself, she would like to see them participate fully in young children’s education and development and reap the full benefits of a career where love, care, and dedication to the cause are at the forefront.

Based on her experience working for IECD, Ms Simeon has this to say, “Where there is a will, there is always a way. Change and challenges should be regarded not as barriers but stepping stones in life’s journey, destined to make one more robust, more resilient and firmer in purpose.” She feels deep appreciation and gratitude to her CEO, Shirley Choppy, and work colleagues for their dynamism and support that have allowed her to grow professionally. At the same time, she sees in her present employer “a never-ending source of inspiration”.

Finally, on career development and leadership, Ms Simeon continues: “Throughout my tenure at IECD as a monitoring and evaluation officer, I have gained many opportunities for personal and professional development. I also discovered my inner abilities through so many exposures. IECD is a small organisation with big visions. I am glad to be part of this committed team of predominantly women, under the vibrant leadership of a devoted woman, and my role model in my career. Thank you, IECD, for moulding me and helping to unleash the better out of me.”