‘Watching children grow can bring an indescribable sense of joy and satisfaction’
“From my professional experience of more than 40 years in the early childhood field, I feel that working with young children can be a rewarding and fulfilling career. To me children are wonderful to work with and watching them grow and achieve their development milestones can bring an indescribable sense of joy and satisfaction.”
This statement, coming from a seasoned early childhood educator, Rose-Mai Jolicoeur, cannot be denied. Early childhood has always been her passion and drive and no doubt she has achieved a lot. Mrs Jolicoeur, a resident of Maldives in the district of Anse Etoile, has three grown up children and she is the doting grandmother of a three-year-old.
She describes herself as a calm, friendly, outgoing and courteous person and professionally we know her to be serious, dedicated and hardworking, one who always strives to achieve the best possible results in any given task. Over the years she has developed a mature and responsible approach to her work. She is a good listener and does not hesitate to take the lead when called for.
She completed her primary education at the Good Shepherd School in Mont Fleuri and then proceeded to Les Mamelles secondary school. From there she joined the Teacher Training College because it was always her dream to become a teacher.
In 1980, as a fully-fledged teacher-in-charge, she took up the responsibility of managing the Mont Fleuri crèche, which catered for 100 pupils aged 4 to 6 years. She recalls that she was the only trained teacher and had to guide and support 10 colleagues. During her career at early childhood level, Mrs Jolicoeur has had the opportunity for professional development in crèche management and administration, special needs and leadership. Today she boasts a Master’s Degree in Educational Leadership, which she obtained in 2008.
She has also attended workshops in early childhood development and education at international level such as ‘Train the Trainer in Early Childhood Development and Education’ in Singapore in 2011 and ‘An Integrative Approach to Early Childhood Development and Education’ in Israel in 2013, which she says have helped to enhance her knowledge and skills.
As part of her employment journey she has held many positions both at school and Ministry of Education headquarters level.
She is presently serving in the post of principal education officer for the Early Childhood Unit, with one of her main responsibilities to act as the liaison between educational institutions catering for early childhood care and education and the Ministry of Education to ensure the provision of quality and equitable resources and pedagogical support for effective teaching and learning and other service delivery. In this capacity, she also initiates and coordinates centre- based team visits with other ECCE partners to assess day care services prior to registration.
As part of her responsibilities, Mrs Jolicoeur has also made a significant contribution in the development of a teaching and learning programme, the Seychelles Early Learning Framework (SELF) designed for education in the early years. Additionally she has shared her knowledge and skills in the development of other educational programmes for early childhood such as the Seychelles first creole reading scheme called ‘Annou Aprann Lir Avek Papiyon.’
Mrs Jolicoeur claims that her greatest achievement has been the establishment of levels of readiness in ECCE domains for pupils entering the first year of crèche education. She has been the leading person to develop these levels, using evidence-based information, with the collaboration of professionals in other early childhood development fields. She recognises that the work she does is not without its fair share of challenges and has identified her biggest one as people management when it comes to implementing any new initiative.
With her strong background in early years’ education, she cannot envisage a future outside of the field. Her greatest aspiration is continuing the great work she is doing but putting more emphasis on young children with special needs, as she observes that the number of such children is increasing and is, according to her, a cause for concern. She feels that in order to help this more disadvantaged group, there should be a collaborative approach where partners get together to reflect on the way forward for more inclusive education. She also stresses on the importance of staff empowerment adding, “We have to ensure that teachers and care givers are knowledgeable and well equipped to be able to help these children”.
Mrs Jolicoeur’s vision for her organisation is a strong team of professionals working together and pulling resources to promote ECCE for the betterment of every child.
She is a strong advocate for ECCE in her workplace and would love to see more young people considering taking up a career in early childhood care and education so that they will follow in her footsteps and like she puts it “be able, like me, to experience the satisfaction and pride of having contributed to a child’s long term development and learning, allowing them to progress as an exemplary member of society”.
As part of wider community involvement, Mrs Jolicoeur is the chairperson of the School Council for the School of the Exceptional Child, a responsibility which resonates well with her aspiration.
After a long and tiring workday, Mrs Jolicoeur likes nothing better than sewing, singing and listening to music specially Country and Western.