Mrs Jeanne Simeon, 64, who has served some 40 years in education, was sworn in Wednesday at State House before President Danny Faure, as the first Minister of Family Affairs
and the fourth lady minister in the cabinet.
Also present for the auspicious ceremony was the Vice-President, Mr Vincent Meriton, Minister Designate Macsuzy Mondon, Speaker of the National Assembly, Mr Patrick Pillay, the Leader of Government Business Charles de Commarmond and other dignitaries.
After taking the Oath of Allegiance to the Constitution and the Oath of Office, the new minister said:
“I feel proud as a woman to have been nominated as Minister and responsible for a new portfolio. I am happy and express gratitude for the trust that the President has bestowed on me and I am ready to discharge my responsibility. As Minister for Family Affairs, I intend to meet with all partners and agencies that have something do in supporting and protecting the family.”
President Faure has announced that the Family Affairs portfolio assigned to Minister Simeon will comprise two departments: the Family Department, and the Social Affairs Department. The Family Department will be headed by Mrs Marie-Josee Bonne as Principal Secretary, and the Social Affairs Department will continue to be headed by Mrs Linda William-Melanie as Principal Secretary. The Health portfolio will now comprise a Ministry on its own, with Mr Jean-Paul Adam as Minister and Dr Bernard Valentin as Principal Secretary. Dr Loren Reginald has also been appointed Special Advisor to the Minister of Health, although he will continue to practice as a medical officer. These appointments took effect since yesterday, 15th March 2017.
That came after Mrs Simeon’s appointment was endorsed by the National Assembly who has quizzed her on her vision as minister, what she would do to improve the quality of family life and what difference she would make in the life of abused women, among other issues.
Mrs Simeon, who was born and spent her entire life in Cascade, lost after husband 7 years ago. She has a son and daughter, and two grandchildren- also a boy and a girl.
She was schooled at Cascade and later at Regina Mundi Convent, from where she joined the Teacher Training College in 1970 to follow a two-year Teacher Certification Course.
She was to spend virtually her entire life in the education sector. She studied for her BA (honours) in Language and Linguistic Science at York University (UK) and obtained her Masters in Education management and Teacher Training at Leeds University also in UK in 1996.
She taught at several schools until her appointment at Bel Eau Primary and Pointe Larue Secondary schools.
Mrs Simeon was then appointed a language instructor at the Seychelles Polytechnic. A good share of her time in education was under then Education Minister Danny Faure. She continued climbing the ranks to Director General of Schools, until appointed Secretary for Education in 2006, a post in which to serve until 2010 when she was moved as Principal Secretary in the office of Vice-President Danny Faure.
Mrs Simeon was appointment Deputy Cabinet Secretary on October 16, 2016 coinciding with the swearing in and elevation of vice-President Faure to the Presidency.
Answering questions in the Assembly on Tuesday afternoon, Mrs Simeon said that she will not “be re-inventing the wheel” but will do her best to uplift family values through a partnership with all components of society.
Mrs Simeon agreed that as first Minister of Family Affairs, she would be facing many challenges, such as substance abuse and ill-discipline among children.
“Often, family issues are linked to health, education, housing economics, environment and other sectors”.
Mrs Simeon said that as a minister she has to be loyal to the ideals of the Government she serves. “That does not mean I have to agree with everything. But even, when I disagree, there is such a thing as collective decision and I have to abide by this”.
Announcing the appointment of a Minister of Family Affairs, in his State of the Nation Address (SONA,) last month, President Faure said this follows discussions with the National Assembly, Civil Society and SIFCO (Seychelles Inter-faith-Committee).
President Faure said families form the foundation of our society and we must go towards the family unit to address our challenges.
“We need to return to good moral and spiritual values early so that our children have a much stronger foundation.”
President Faure said that social ills, such as drug and alcohol abuse are eroding the base or foundations of our society today. “It is a battle which is difficult, but worth the while”, he said.
President Faure said that in spite of all this, a large number of families overcome social hurdles and is able to keep their children intact: “They ought to be an inspiration to our young parents, and to upcoming families.”
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