Students who signed an agreement for loans at the University of Guyana during the period when public education was “constitutionally free” cannot be held accountable for defaulting on payment, says General Secretary of the Guyana Trades Union Congress (GTUC), Lincoln Lewis.Veteran trade unionist Lincoln LewisLewis, in a letter, stated that the Constitution of Guyana had within it free public education from nursery to university, but this was excised with constitutional reform during the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) time in office. He stated that neither the University of Guyana nor the Government could hold these persons accountable for an act “which was clearly in violation of the supreme law”.“The Constitution is explicit that any act that contravenes it is null and void,” he said, reiterating that the Constitution was the nation’s supreme law and every government official, more so the “elected representatives”, should take time to acquaint themselves with it.The Government is wrestling with manoeuvres to recoup loans provided by the University’s Student Loan Agency. One strategy, as highlighted by Finance Minister Winston Jordan, was to restrict the graduates from travelling outside Guyana until they made arrangements to settle their debts.On the flip side, Citizenship Minister Winston Felix and Foreign Affairs Minister Carl Greenidge have openly stated that they were unaware of any such plan. President David Granger had also come out to say any restriction would be against the law and his Administration would not implement such a measure.“The APNU/AFC Administration has to be mindful it does not continue sending the signal that the left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing or decisions are being made without due diligence,” Lewis said, opining that the business of government is managed by “time-honoured principles, established rules and laws, not gut feelings,” and so to entertain the idea of barring persons’ freedom of movement, without examining the legal implications, should not have happened.He stated that any repayment approach must also factor in that the Government has failed to build the enabling environment to keep its people, and provide employment and economic opportunities for them. He noted that it should consider examining the fees being paid in kind in various forms of national service.Considering that 85 per cent of Guyana’s tertiary graduates migrate and approximately 40 per cent of its young people are unemployed, coupled with a national unemployment rate of 21 per cent, Lewis stated, Guyana has a serious problem on its hands.Thus, outside of ensuring that the “Constitution is not violated, in its present form and considering when student loans were introduced, the Government has to look at this matter through holistic and sober lens”. This, he said, must include recognition of the reality that among the student population are those who in accessing advanced education did so because they saw it as a stepping stone for better, yet betterment seems elusive.Meanwhile, former Attorney General Anil Nandlall has stated that in the Constitution there were enforceable and unenforceable provisions – free tertiary education being one of the unenforceable ones.He stated that there were ideal goals that a country would aspire to achieve in terms of free education from nursery to university, but it did not mean that these provisions would be enforced.He stated that every citizen enjoyed the right to freedom of movement, which included the right to enter and leave Guyana and so a ban imposed on any citizen, unless it falls into one of the exceptions provided for by the Constitution itself, would be in contravention of the citizen’s constitutional right of movement.“Failure to pay one’s debt is not one of the exceptions provided for by the Constitution as an exception to freedom of movement.Therefore, the imposition of a travel ban for the non-payment of student loans would amount to a deprivation of that student’s freedom of movement as is guaranteed by the Constitution,” Nandlall stated, adding that the same Constitution provided for the establishment of private schools, where fees are chargeable.
Surinamese-based carrier Fly All Ways has launched its services in Guyana, arriving to the shores of Guyana from Paramaribo, SurinameFly All Ways made its inaugural flight to Guyana on Tuesdayat around 09:50h on Tuesday to favourable weather and a warm welcome. The carrier currently offers three direct flights per week from the Cheddi Jagan International Airport to Suriname and to Barbados, with flights to neighbouring Brazil in the pipeline.Speaking at the welcoming ceremony at CJIA’s VIP lounge, Chief Executive Officer of the airline, Amichand Jauw, said the carrier has an 80-seat passenger capacity and boasted the airline’s safety and comfort. He also pointed out that connectivity across the three Guiana’s will be enhanced.Director of the Guyana Tourism Authority (GTA), Indranauth Haralsingh also observed that connectivity will foster development.“This new route will create a wealth of opportunities to increase intra-regional travel, trade and connectivity and further facilitate the development of multi-destination tourism and packages, the new route will also result in time and cost savings, especially with travels waiting for connections,” he noted.Haralsingh further expressed that GTA views the presence of the airline as a boost for the local sector.“The tourism industry is heavily dependent on air transport and airlift and interconnectivity will definitely improve Guyana’s accessibilityOfficials in Barbados welcome the carrier to the shores of Barbadoswhich is critical in boosting arrivals on a sustainable basis,” the GTA Director noted.After landing at Bridgetown following a one hour, 15-minute flight, the airline’s CEO was honoured by Barbados aviation authority in recognition of the airline’s inaugural flight. Parliamentary Secretary of the Barbados Tourism and International Transport Ministry, Irene Garner, welcomed the airline, noting that it is the first regional carrier since Red Jet in 2011.Also speaking at the Barbados leg was Junior Public Infrastructure Minister, Annette Ferguson who encouraged Fly AllWays to bring aPassengers aboard Fly All Ways aircrafthigh standard of service to passengers since other start-up airlines have left what she termed a “bad taste” in the mouths of Guyanese. Ferguson further noted her appreciation for the airline investing in Guyana.“[People] moving from one area to the other depend heavily on air transport [and] I am happy that Mr Jauw and the other directors of Fly AllWays would have seen the need to come and invest in the region,” she observed.The Minister also expressed enthusiasm for the expansion of flights to Brazil.Several Surinamese tourists and officials were passengers on the inaugural flight.
Entertainment centers across Monrovia and its environs have joined the ongoing traditional campaigns in combating the deadly Ebola virus across the country.According to the Proprietress of the Baby J. Bar & Restaurant in Saye Town, Sinkor, the issue of measures against the deadly Ebola virus are termed as a “traditional thing for Liberia,” to secure people and customers’ safety.“I understand that Ebola travels around and is real and people contact it through hand-shakes, body contacts and other means,” said the proprietress, who declined to give her name.“Since the outbreak of Ebola, people are very careful and are avoiding our business center.”She called on Christians to focus on worshipping God rather than the deadly Ebola virus that is being surrounded with fear by the people. According to her, people should take the preventive measures. “The Ebola fear has overshadowed us, leading people to worship the epidemic,” she claimed. “I want us to take the preventive measures. Let us be like the Hebrew brothers that said they will not worship any man made god.” “If Liberia is a Christian nation, we should continue to give God the glory and He will save us from this crisis.” According to her, entertainment centers have been receiving less customers since the outbreak of the epidemic, due to the fear of the buyers. The spread of the virus has led to a total reduction of customers.“I believe that many of those that are coming to entertain themselves are now taking preventive measures described by the health authorities and international partners.”According to the Baby J proprietress, her entertainment center has been regularly informing customers coming and going out to constantly carryout the issue of hand-washing as way of preventing the deadly virus.She urged other people, including marketers and commuters, to get involved in observing Ebola measures to help keep Liberia and its people safe from the virus.One entertainment owner in Jallah Town community, Sinkor, said, he was religiously doing his hand-wash and avoiding of body contacts to ensure that his life is safe.According to him, with the present condition of the deadly Ebola in Liberia, Liberians must take advantage of the preventive measures described by the health authorities in order to survive the epidemic.“We have received information from the health authorities that health workers are dying from the virus. This is indication that everyone needs to take the preventive measures.”He used the occasion to call on the National government to properly investigate the ‘well poisoning reports in the country, stating that this is another serious problem for Liberia.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)
Thierry Tanoh, the Ivorian Chief Executive Officer of Ecobank Transnational Incorporated (ETI), was forced out of his exalted position last week at a rather quiet board meeting of the bank held in Lome, Togo. Mr. Tanoh joined the Ecobank Group as CEO designate in July 2012 and commenced his executive role in October 2012 prior to being appointed Group CEO in January 2013. Tanoh came under renewed pressure last week after a stormy emergency general meeting of the bank where it was revealed that he had failed to comply with instructions by Nigeria’s Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to recall Laurence do Rego, a former executive director of the pan-African bank responsible for finance and risk and whose whistle blowing, some say, brought the rumbling in the Bank into the open.Hints that the CEO may be attending his last board meeting first came the week earlier when it emerged that the directors had been advancing a position that was seen as unfavorable to Tanoh. In the end, this paper has been told, the former CEO did not even bother to attend the crucial meeting.In his place, directors of the board asked one of the deputy managing directors, a Ghanaian, Albert Essien, to occupy the CEO position until a substantive head was found for the Bank in October.Announcing the replacement, ETI Interim Chairman, André Siaka said “Mr. Albert Essien has the experience and knowledge that Ecobank needs to take us forward as we continue to implement our strategy to deliver outstanding customer service, to improve long-term shareholder value and returns and to be the employer of choice in our markets.”He also wished the outgoing CEO, Thierry Tanoh well in his new field of endeavor. “We wish to thank Thierry Tanoh for his service to Ecobank and wish him every success in the future.” At last week’s meeting, this paper has also learnt, it was also decided that do Rego be recalled. South Africa’s Public Investment Corporation (PIC), Ecobank’s single largest shareholder, has for sometime expressed concerns about Tanoh, media reports from the region have said.The PIC, which owns more than 18 percent of Ecobank, according to the Lome, Togo-based lender, was concerned about performance under Tanoh. However, two former directors of Ecobank, Babatunde Ajibade and Kolapo Lawson, who served on a board that now has 12 members, said criticism of Tanoh was rooted in fear by other senior executives that his willingness to reform governance might expose past problems.In recent interviews with Nigerian journalists, both men declined to spell out those alleged failures in detail. But Lawson said in a resignation letter dated February 7, 2014 and seen by Reuters that they stemmed from “the ETI public offering of 2008”, which refers to the bank’s flotation on the Nigerian Stock Exchange.Whatever the case, Mr. Thierry Tanoh, a former International Finance Corporation’s (IFC) vice president for Sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean and Western Europe, has been ousted by Ecobank and subsequently replaced by Albert Essien as new group Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Company.Mr. Essien has been at Ecobank for more than 20 years, rising to the position of Deputy Group CEO two years ago. Prior to becoming Deputy CEO, Mr. Essien was the Regional Head for the Anglophone West Africa (excluding Nigeria) and Eastern and Southern Africa (ESA) regions.According to an ETI statement, Mr. Essien’s appointment follows the departure of the current Group Chief Executive Officer of the Bank, Thierry Tanoh, effectively Wednesday, March 12, 2014. Meanwhile, the Board of Directors of ETI also announced that in line with a directive the Securities and Exchange Commission of Nigeria, Mrs. Laurence do Rego is reinstated as Group Executive Director of Finance and Risk with immediate effect.During their Board meeting, the Directors reaffirmed their commitment to implementing the detailed 51-point Governance Action Plan adopted by shareholders at an Extraordinary General Meeting held at Ecobank’s Pan African Centre in Lomé on March 3, 2014.The plan, which is expected to be implemented by the end of April 2014, aims at strengthening governance within the Ecobank Group.Prior to becoming Deputy CEO Mr. Essien was the Regional Head for the Anglophone West Africa (excluding Nigeria) and Eastern and Southern Africa (ESA) regions. He started his banking career in 1986 with the National Investment Bank in Accra, Ghana and joined the Corporate Banking Department of Ecobank Ghana in 1990. In 1997, he became Country Risk Manager.Essien was appointed Deputy Managing Director in 2001 and became Managing Director in December 2002. Albert Essien has a degree in Economics from the University of Ghana and is an alumnus of the Executive Development Program of INSEAD (France / Singapore). He is also an honorary fellow of the Chartered Institute of Bankers, Ghana.Speaking as the Board nominated him as the new Group CEO Albert Essien said, “I have been working for Ecobank for more than 20 years and I am proud of what we have achieved so far. I am committed to achieving our vision of building a world class pan-African bank which contributes to the economic development and financial integration of Africa and to our mission of providing our retail and wholesale customers with convenient, accessible and reliable financial products and services.ETI is the parent company of the leading independent pan-African banking group, Ecobank. It currently has a presence in 35 African countries, namely: Angola, Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo (Brazzaville), Congo (Democratic Republic), Côte d’Ivoire, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Kenya, Liberia, Malawi, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Africa, South Sudan, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.The Group is also represented in France through its affiliate EBI SA in Paris. ETI also has representative offices in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, London, UK and Beijing, China. ETI is listed on the stock exchanges in Lagos, Accra, and the West African Economic and Monetary Union (UEMOA) – the BRVM. The Group has more than 600,000 local and international institutional and individual shareholders. The Group employs 19,200 people from 40 different countries in 1,250 branches and offices.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)
An amendment to the National Elections Law, sponsored by Senator Jewel Howard Taylor and a few colleagues, would require candidates contesting elections to pay the following amounts in United States dollars: presidential – $25,000; vice-presidential $15000; senatorial – $5000; and representative – $3000. Also, candidates for the positions of paramount, clan, and town chiefs would be required to pay $150, $100 and $50 respectively. The current law requires the following payments from candidates: presidential – $2,500; vice-presidential- $1,500; senatorial – $750; and representative – $300. The proposed amendment represents an astronomical increase of 1000% in the required presidential, vice-presidential and representative fees as well as 667% in the senatorial fee. One wonders why the fees for senatorial candidates received a lower percentage increase compared to other categories. Is it because the proposal emanated from the senate? Interestingly, the Liberian Constitution requires in Article 52 (b) that individuals seeking to be president or vice president should be “the owners of unencumbered real property valued at not less than twenty-five thousand dollars” (Liberia or US?). This constitutional requirement is meant to ensure that candidates are property owners, taxpayers, and key stakeholders in their communities. To propose that candidates pay an additional twenty-five/fifteen thousand dollars in cash for the presidency/vice presidency respectively imposes unconscionable taxation on Liberians wishing to offer their leadership skills and expertise to develop the country. Participation must not be tagged to unbearable registration fees. The joy of democracy is participation and inclusion. Prohibitive registration fees will stifle participation and exclude competent citizens from pursuit of democratic leadership. High registration fees restrict leadership to the wealthy. Allowing the wealthy class to monopolize politics is a recipe for conflict and could lead to official corruption in a bid to gain wealth for electoral advantage. The proposal to charge astronomical fees is tantamount to transforming our democratic system into a plutocracy. We have to guard against plutocratic tendencies taking over our fledgling democracy. Many Liberians are poor, and many of those that have the literate capacity and right leadership attributes may not boast bulging bank accounts to muster the proposed astronomical fees. Moreover, this amendment has the propensity of undermining the individuality of political participation. Some independent candidates and individuals in political parties will be deterred from contesting simply because they cannot afford the required fees.Some politicians and legislators believe the proposed amendment will reduce the number of candidates, political parties and functional illiterates that participate in elections. We find these assertions interesting and wonder how leaders that are expected to drive our democracy would have such perverted thinking. Intriguingly, many of those advocating for the increment were once poor, but amassed wealth upon assuming high-level positions in government. What if the law had existed during their impoverished conditions? Would they have had the opportunity to be elected? In a country where wealth is usually accumulated through public sector pilferage, instead of business acumen and ingenuity, we are attempting to set the stage for the corrupt and unexplained-wealth-accumulators to tighten their control over the national purse and power. Already, there are allegations of neglect of some constituencies by their lawmakers. Payment of such stratospheric fees may result to underperformance, as some legislators prioritize paying back borrowed registration fees compared to addressing problems in their constituencies. They could also manipulate competitive processes (procurement, contract award and ratification, recruitment of political appointees etc.) in favor of debtors as payback for financial support. Liberia requires comprehensive reforms and actions to consolidate peace and successfully rebuild state structures that are resilient to the unsettling effects of wars and unwarranted socio-economic downturns. These reforms and actions have to be measured consistent with existing economic realities and must be informed by socio-economic and political norms and values of the Liberian society. After years of conflict, Liberia still remains fragile and cannot afford to relegate substantive citizens’ participation by passage of anti-democratic laws that undermine national cohesion with the propensity to divide the country between rich and poor – literate and illiterate. Historically, bad laws promoted a structure of state that marginalized many citizens and allowed the ruling class to accumulate wealth and cling unto power. Resistance to bad laws and marginalization of the majority segment of the society led to overthrow of the ruling elites in the 1980 coup and uprisings against the Doe and Taylor regimes.Democracy in Liberia is thriving and citizens are enjoying unhindered power to field candidates of their choice albeit affordable candidacy fees. It would be unfortunate to change the game now to serve the interest of a few greedy and power hungry Liberians. Our current candidates’ registration fees are reasonable and affordable, and must be maintained. The onus is on the National Elections Commission to rigorously enforce acceptable laws and regulations that govern the political space. Higher standard is also required of the legislature to make laws that are satisfactory, balanced, and supportive of efforts to enhance the democratic space. When bad laws are made/proposed, like the one under review, few persons will be short-term beneficiaries, but many will suffer as time progresses. We must guard against proposing/enacting laws that seek to reduce competition, create wealth for a select few, and perpetuate their stay in power.Thomas Doe Nah is Executive Director of the Center for Transparency and Accountability in CENTAL, the Liberian Chapter of Transparency International, the global anti-corruption coalition. Follow me on twitter @loveofliberty or email: firstname.lastname@example.orgShare this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)
Durban Park ProjectJust mere days away from the Independence Day activities, the Durban Park Project is yet to be completed.The venue is earmarked for the hosting of the Independence Day celebratory activities, including the flag raising ceremony.During an interview with Guyana Times on Monday, Public Infrastructure Minister David Patterson disclosed that the project is now approximately 90 per cent completed.Upon the direction of the President David Granger which followed reports of substandard works being executed, the Public Infrastructure Ministry recently took up the responsibility to oversee the construction of the arena.The Project was previously being administered by a National Commemoration Commission (NCC) comprised of private individuals.Meanwhile, though just 90 per cent completed, Patterson explained that everything will be finalised in time for the grand jubilee celebrations on May 26.He noted that the inclement weather conditions contributed to the delay in the completion of the project.Initially, the deadline for the completion of the project was set for May 12.
Liberia is considered the worst hit since the outbreak of the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) in the Mano River Union basin with over 2000 confirmed, probable and suspected deaths, but not all of these deaths are Ebola related, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has clarified.The Liberian leader stressed recently that the country’s death rate has reflected high numbers because people who died from other illnesses due to the initial impact on the regular healthcare system have been recorded as Ebola victims due to the circumstances of their deaths.She, however, indicated that requisite systems are now in place to remedy the situation by making sure that basic regular health services around the country are restored.President Sirleaf made the assertion when she spoke at the launch of Youth Action International Coalition against Ebola in Monrovia last Thursday.She admitted that the start of the fight against the Ebola virus disease was rocky and difficult, due to the strange nature of the virus, limited capacity, and the lack of initial tools for healthcare workers who are the front liners in the fight. But she pointed out that the fight is now well on course.President Sirleaf said attitude and behavioral change are cardinal to breaking the transmission chain and ending the further spread of the deadly disease in Liberia.She reminded the young people that attitude, behavior, as well as cultural and traditional values remain major challenges to efforts aimed at eradicating the virus from Liberia. She called on members of the coalition against Ebola to go all out and reach to communities and neighborhoods across the country with simplified messages of sensitization and awareness that will help change people’s behavior towards the deadly virus.“We can do all to bring in international help as the case is now. We can build Ebola Treatment Units across the country, establish testing centers, bring in all the medication and personal protective equipment, but if the behavior of Liberians is not changed, the virus will continue to spread,” she warned.“We must follow the preventive instructions from health authorities to save ourselves and our country,” the Liberian leader emphasized.She pointed out that government is giving and will continue to give the deserved attention to ensure that the virus is eradicated from Liberia.She lauded the efforts of heroes such as Montserrado District No. 13 Representative Saah Joseph, Dr. Jerry Brown and his team of the ELWA-2 Ebola Treatment Center, as well as all healthcare workers involved in the fight for their sacrificial services to the nation.The Liberian leader thanked the Youth Action International Executive Director, Dr. Kimmie Weeks, and the young people for the initiative and promised that with all hands on deck, Ebola will soon be history in Liberia.She rejected projections from international organizations that over one million persons across West Africa will die by January, adding that steps are being taken to reverse these pessimistic projections.Speaking earlier, Montserrado County Representatives Acarous Gray and Saah Joseph, Christian Health Association of Liberia (CHAL) head, Patricia Kamara, representatives of the UN Children’s Agency (UNICEF) and the U. S. Embassy in Monrovia thanked the coalition of young people for the initiative. They joined President Sirleaf in expressing the hope that the virus will soon be history in Liberia. They committed themselves to standing with the government and the young people to eradicate the virus from Liberia.For his part, Youth Action International Executive Director, Dr. Kimmie Weeks, pointed out that the undertaking was not a Youth Action International Initiative, but that of different youth organizations that have been assembled under the guidance of his organization.He indicated that he made a personal commitment not to leave Liberia until the Ebola virus disease is contained and eradicated from our shores.Dr. Weeks pointed out that all member organizations of the coalition, numbering over 75 with over 6,000 youths, are already working on Ebola-related programs in various communities around the country. The goal, he indicated, is for all people to know how to protect themselves from the Ebola virus disease and thereby break the chain of transmission.“Young people are most times efficient, but often get limited with no support. The international community and the government must ensure the empowerment of youth-based organizations that are committed to playing critical roles in the fight against the further spread and eradication of the virus,” Dr. Weeks urged.He admitted that the Ebola battle is a fight for life and survival and that all must be done to the end the devastation of the country by this disease.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)
The Mayor of Cestos City, the capital city of Rivercess County, has charged that lack of incentives and needed logistics are some of the causes of the city’s under development.Mayor Sarah N. Zeo made the complaint in an exclusive interview with the Daily Observer at her office recently.She explained that her administration continues to apply all efforts to carry out clean up campaigns but with a limited staff of 17 persons, she and her staff are unable to overcome the challenges.Among the challenges faced by the Cestos city mayor is the deliberate refusal of land owners to clean their respective properties during clean up campaigns organized to give the city a face lift.She said the city’s poor lay-out without streets and alleys for the free movement of citizens and residents is another major problem.She disclosed that some time ago, a surveyor from the Ministry of Lands, Mines and Energy, Mr. Bismark Addy, was hired to lay out the city with streets and alleys, but nothing has been done.She frowned on the lack of revenue agents in the county to collect government revenues, a portion of which could be used to help develop the city, the mayor pointed out.“In fact, logging and other companies operating in the county have their offices in Grand Bassa County, instead of Rivercess County where they could pay royalties to the City Corporation for development purposes,” she contended.Mayor Zeo appealed to the County’s Legislative Caucus and national government to help curtail the hindrances against the development of the city.It may be recalled that Rivercess County was the 5th District under Grand Bassa County for decades, until 1984 when the late President Samuel Kanyon Doe, then Chairman of the People’s Redemption Council (PRC), declared Rivercess a county.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)
Authorities at the Ministry of Education (MOE) have announced that about 100,074 candidates representing 9th and 12th graders will sit for this year’s West African Examination Council (WAEC) exams scheduled for May 19 to 27, 2016.Felicia Sackie Doe-Sumah, Assistant Minister for Basic and Primary Education, addressing yesterday’s press briefing on Capitol Hill in Monrovia said “This exam is special because we have two classes from two different academic years that will be writing the 2016 WAEC. We have the students from 2014 to 2015 and also the students from 2015 to 2016, and because of that, we will have more centers for the test.”Minister Doe-Sumah said the 9th graders will begin writing the exam on Thursday May 19 and end on May 20, while the 12th graders will begin on Monday, May 23 and end on May 27, 2016.“For the 9th graders, we have 1,198 schools that will be participating in this year’s testing with a total of 53,159 candidates, because of WAEC’s cancellation of the test last year. Of that number, we have 27,921 males and 25,283 females, which also suggest that the girls are making more effort to pursue an education and must be commended. For grade 12, we have about 514 schools that will be participating with the total candidates of 46,915. We also have a total of 21,963 females as well,” said Minister Doe-Sumah.She explained that the supervisors will include teachers and principals assigned to various schools, adding that: “For monitoring, we will have staff from the Ministry of Education and the different secretariats ably assisted by some organizations to ensure a better monitoring system across the country.”“Considering the huge number of candidates, we will have more centers across Liberia for this year’s testing. We are also saying that all schools or campuses that will be used should allow their other students to remain at home. Campuses used for testing must only allow students sitting for the test,” she maintained.Minister Doe-Sumah stressed that schools that will not be used must allow their students to attend regular classes, as the Ministry will not allow closure of institutions that are not participating in the exam. She said despite the continued update by the Ministry, students and school administrators continue to suggest that MOE has called for the closure of all schools during the upcoming testing, describing it as false and misleading. Minister Doe-Sumah urged school administrators to help keep students busy by providing assignments that will be graded. “We also want to warn school administrators that are engaged in collecting graduation fees ahead of the WAEC to desist from such activities now as only WAEC results will lead to such. Please contact MOE on this number if encountering this problem: 0777403676,” she said.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)
An official of the Ministry of Health (MOH) said that the Ebola outbreak in the country has not only caused the deaths of people, but brought uncertainty to other health services that should save lives.Dr. Samson K. Arzoaquoi made the observation yesterday during a program marking the dedication of the Blood Bank Donation Center on 5th Street in Sinkor. The center contains screening rooms, storage, cold storage and several offices for performing various functions.Dr. Arzoaquoi emphasized that patients with anemia and maternal related problems die when blood is not available to treat them.He further noted that accidents cause victims to lose blood, and without a blood donation center, the victims may lose their lives also.Dr. Arzoaquoi said as a result of the Ebola outbreak, people are afraid to receive donated blood. And with the disease being blood related, it slowed down the activities of the National Blood Safety Program in Liberia.In spite of the uncertainty caused by the deadly disease, the MOH official said the Ministry will continue the effort to convince the public to accept screened and safe donated blood.He commended partners including the World Health Organization (WHO) and U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) for assisting Liberia to overcome health challenges and establish the blood bank.The National Blood Safety Program Director, Lwopu M. Bruce, said the program was established in 2009 with the responsibility to provide a safe, sufficient and timely supply of blood and blood related products for patients that required transfusion.The establishment of the National Blood Safety Program, according to Madam Bruce, was meant to transition from paid donation to voluntary and unpaid blood donation.Since its establishment, the MOH official said 38 major hospitals benefited from blood and blood products from two regional blood banks and donation centers in 2010 and 2011.In conformity with the mandate for establishing the center, she said all possible steps have been taken to ensure that the blood dispensed is safe and that it will not harm patients when it is transfused.Diseases for which screening is done to ensure safety of the blood include malaria, hepatitis B and C, syphilis, and HIV 1 and 2.In order to create awareness of activities of the National Blood Safety Program, the Director said they have actively engaged in outreach activities at high schools, universities, army barracks, the Liberia National Police, ministries and agencies, Samaritan Purse International, and the Monrovia Vocational Training Center.However, in consonance with Dr. Arzoaquoi, Madam Bruce said “It is worth noting that most of the gains made since the establishment of the National Blood Safety Program have been thwarted due to the Ebola episode in the sub-region.”To maintain the service in order not to be inconvenienced when the need arises, she said they have to make contingency plans that will allow for the free flow of communication between transfusion services and agencies involved in managing the public health response to the outbreak.Furthermore, she indicated that the plan should include planning for both continuity in the supply of safe blood and blood products and possible changes in demand.Information at the early stages of an outbreak of EVD, according to the Program Director, is important to the contingency plan.The program was attended by officials representing partnering organizations including the WHO, CDC and ACCEL.Dr. Alex Gasasira, WHO Country Representative, commended MOH for the establishment, and for working with partners to eradicate EVD and tackle other health related issues in the country.He also commended CDC for its strategic role in providing needed assistance for revamping of the Liberian health system, and for cooperating with the WHO to meet targeted goals.Dr. Desmond Williams pledged CDC’s support to the project and made a commitment to assist in rebuilding Liberia’s health system.Jeff Bailey, Laboratory Director of ACCEL, disclosed that funding for the project came from the Paul G. Allen and Family Foundation. He said that in the midst of the frightening Ebola crisis in the region, they have put in place steps to ensure that blood is screened properly and safely prepared for transfusion of patients.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)