Joëlle Perreau was recently appointed as the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Seychelles. Joëlle has been employed with UniSey since its inception and has been involved in the development of programmes, teaching, and quality assurance of the university. Cosmocreole gets close and personal with Joëlle, she talks about life, family, her career in the educational sector, and her vision for further education in Seychelles. If the name sounds familiar to you-she is indeed the daughter of the late popular singer, Jocelyn Perreau.
I do not have kids of my own. However, I consider my brother’s children as my own. My two nieces Zoya (14 ) and Neena (9) and nephew Zion (3) mean the world to me. I am their aunt and godmother to all of them, and that’s very important to me.
My family is my greatest inspiration in everything I’ve done and do. My father, Jocelyn, passed away in 2001. His words, personality, highly-accepting attitude towards every human being from all walks of life, are still engraved deeply in my being. I take life a lot like he did – with a positive look.
My brother, Luc, is my pride and my rock. My real truth I hear from Luc. I know he has my back always, and I’ve got his too. He has trusted me to be the sole godmother of his three children and I will be forever grateful for this.
My character has also been greatly influenced by my grandmother (my mother’s side) and I believe I am the woman that I am because of her too. She was a determined, courageous, frank, true, loyal, reliable, and elegant lady. I feel blessed to have learned so much from her.
My mother, Michol Perreau, is my strength, my anchor, and my sanity. I respect her command of languages – she is the best writer I have known in my life. I believe my love for linguistics has been inspired by her as well. My mother’s opinion is crucial to me; sometimes she does not even need to say anything, and I know what she is thinking – she is more often right than wrong. I am extremely lucky to be sharing my life with her still. It is a true blessing to me.
Growing up I wanted to work with people and to be a clinical psychologist. When you were an all-rounder at school in the 80s and 90s, almost automatically you were pushed into the science field, and that’s what happened to me. For my O’levels studies, I did science subjects as well as mathematics, English and French. My plan was to take A-levels in English, French, and Biology so that I could pursue further studies to become a clinical psychologist. However, due to timetable issues at the school, it was not possible, so I ended up taking French, English and Economics.
While I was doing my A-Levels, my lecturers noticed something in me – I was not paying a lot of attention to it so to speak-my ability in linguistic. They encouraged me to consider French linguistics as a possibility for further studies instead of clinical psychology. I was eventually convinced that going through teacher training and specializing in French would allow me to work with people, and acquire more knowledge in linguistics which I had started to be really passionate about.
True to their word, I was enrolled in the teacher training programme at the School of Education in January 1995 after completion of my A-Levels in December 1994. Then, in August 1995, I left for France, to continue the second phase of the training for 9 months at the Centre de Linguistiques Appliquées in Besançon. I returned to Seychelles in 1996 where I graduated and became a fully-qualified secondary school French teacher. I taught in different secondary schools in Seychelles – namely Anse Aux Pins, Plaisance and Belonie. I then went back to France for further studies in French Linguistics where I did my first degree, Masters and MPhil in Besançon, followed by my doctoral studies in Université Sorbonne Nouvelle – Paris 3, in Paris.
Throughout the years, I worked and studied at the same time; I chose to do six months in Seychelles working full-time and then six months in France studying full-time. I have participated in numerous research projects, conferences, publications and I have taught linguistics, didactics, literature, and even ICT in Education modules ( I also specialised in ICT during my training). I taught at the School of A-Levels as well as the National Institute of Education before being transferred to the University of Seychelles. My current research interest is psycholinguistics which takes me back somehow to my childhood career dream as a clinical psychologist.
At the University of Seychelles, I have been a lecturer, Head of Programme, Dean of Faculty until December 2020 before being appointed in my current position as the Vice-Chancellor.
Work and Play
The Vice-Chancellor post comes with a lot of responsibility. To name a few, I am responsible for managing and directing the university in its academic, administrative, financial, personnel, and all other activities; approving all internal procedures and regulations related to financial, administrative, and academic matters. I have very hectic days, I need to prioritise my work— responding to e-mails, teaching which involves a lot of preparations, attending or chairing meetings, and reading, writing, and commenting on important documents. Life in academia for me — I can either work through the night and sleep through the day or do like normal people, sleep through the night and work through the day.
When I am not working, I like spending time at home, watching TV, chatting with my mum, and sometimes I would go out with my friends, most of them are the same friends from my primary school days. I also listen to a lot of music – reggae and creole music.
Greatest Change in Education in Seychelles
The greatest change is definitely the introduction of the University of Seychelles (UniSey) in 2009. This has allowed more Seychellois to access higher education and it has thus helped create a more educated workforce. A well-trained, correctly informed, educated nation allows the country to develop faster and better. The University is at the top of the national education system pyramid and, as the national university, we offer training and research inspired and guided by the national context and needs.
I would like to see the Government and private sector in the country, work more closely with us. UniSey is the link, and the bridge, between Seychelles and the higher education and research world, and vice-versa. The university can be the window for Seychellois to look outside of Seychelles and for foreign experts, researchers, developers to look inside Seychelles. UniSey also aims to work more closely with all professional centres to establish pathways and opportunities that would motivate our youth to embark on longer training programmes. We have international partners already, and we thrive to have, even more, to give more international exposure to our Seychellois students. Our mission is to help the Seychellois people embrace lifelong learning.
Working in Education— a wonderful vocation where we get to contribute to the development of humankind. We have the responsibility for the transformation of a nation. We help mould and influence mindsets, attitudes, performances, and creativity. Our aim is to push people towards success, what better job than that?
Achievement, Ambition and Challenges
My greatest achievements are my students, the ones I have helped train from secondary schools to UniSey. Some of them are currently occupying important and challenging positions—teachers, senior officers, managers, even Members of the National Assembly, to name a few—they make me proud. I am happy to have contributed something towards their success. On a personal note, I have managed to stay true to myself, my faith and beliefs, and my family’s upbringing.
I am passionate about my work, people, and life. Therefore, I work tirelessly to make meaningful contributions that would, hopefully, help make other people’s lives better and more successful. I believe that when you are an educator, you are more interested in other people’s success than yours because the basis of your profession or vocation, is to transform people into the best version of themselves. So, if I have to talk about ambition, I would say that I aim to make further significant and positive contributions in the continuous transformation and development of the people of Seychelles into a more curious, inquisitive, reflective, analytic, informed, and educated nation. People need to know and embrace their true capabilities to progress.
As for all the challenges, I look at each of them as lessons and opportunities. I see the positive in everything, I choose to see the positive. Such is life, and it is a blessing to be alive and having ups and downs, and still doing what you love.
Moments in time
If I could, I would freeze two moments-The first one, years ago when my Father, my grandma, and great-aunt (on my mother’s side) were alive and at my place at Anse Aux Pins— with my Mum Michol, my brother Luc and myself having our usual laughs, conversations and eating a nice home-cooked meal. I would give anything to have these three special people back in my life; reunited with my mum, my brother, and his family—all the important people in my life in one place.
The second one would be in Perth Australia in February 2020, celebrating my brother’s birthday with his family and my mum. My family is my force and my life.
Always be true to yourself and to others, always speak your truth, good will always win in the end.