MSF Opens Ebola Transit Point in New Kru Town

first_imgMedecins Sans Frontiers (MSF) has opened a transit point on Bushrod Island to help deal with suspected Ebola cases in the area before transferring those testing positive to ETUs and sending patients with other conditions to Redemption and other hospitals for further treatment.The Liberian healthcare system has been seriously impacted by the Ebola epidemic. Many hospitals and clinics are closed, and those that are running turn feverish or vomiting patients away for fear that they have Ebola.”Speaking yesterday during the official opening of the unit, the Swiss Field Coordinator of MSF, Sebastian Stew, said the unit is intended to screen suspected Ebola patients seeking treatment at Redemption Hospital.According to him, the unit is constructed to help the Redemption Hospital avoid dealing with Ebola patients through the screening process and keep suspected Ebola cases away from other patients.“We want the people of New Kru Town to take advantage of this opportunity because this is one of the ways that Ebola can be eradicated from Bushrod Island and Liberia. Patients with Ebola symptoms will be sent from the out-patient department of Redemption Hospital to the Transit Unit to have the screening for Ebola.”The Transit Centre is a small short-stay Ebola Treatment Centre (24-72hrs). It is intended to receive patients with signs and symptoms of Ebola in a safe and protected environment, take care of them while allowing nurses to test the patients to confirm Ebola Virus infection before transferring them by ambulance to the MSF Ebola Treatment Center at ELWA, or any other Ebola Treatment Centre, if they are confirmed as Ebola positive.According to Stew, “Redemption is one of the most important hospitals in Monrovia, providing free care for everyone. New Kru Town is an area that has been severely hit by Ebola and it makes sense to set up the Transit Unit there.He continued, “We are hoping to receive the first patient today and as the Redemption Hospital is open, the unit can help greatly to support the more suspected cases. We have 10 units and will make sure that no one infects the other.  The unit is large enough for each patient to occupy a room or unit.”Mr. Stew further explained that the unit has a team of health promoters and psychosocial workers, who will be the link between the patients and their families and there will be opportunities for the family to come and visit.The medical director of Redemption Hospital, Dr. Mohammed Sankoh, said he was impressed with the unit as it would help to handle suspected Ebola patients before determining further treatment.He explained that the entire Redemption Hospital would soon be open to the public, especially with the opening of new Ebola transit point nearby.“We want to get all the materials disinfected because the hospital was also run as an Ebola holding unit and most of the patients diagnosed were Ebola patients. This transit point is very important as it gave us ample time to reopen the hospital,” he said.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

Ebola and Sanitation

first_imgLast week, Liberians were poised at the bus park, awaiting the announcement of an Ebola free nation on May 9.  This is great news for the small West African Nation that found herself increasingly isolated by July through December of 2014.  Liberia was one of the epicenters in the West African sub region that was badly hit by the deadly epidemic. According to the statistics of previously affected countries by the Centers for Disease Control, Liberia recorded the highest death toll of 4716 out of 10564[1]  total cases of suspected, probable and laboratory confirmed cases. Faced with economic, socio- cultural and health- induced sanctions, nearly all International flights were suspended, with a drastic decline in trade, lowering investment, widespread economic speculation, thus bringing an entire nation to a monumental stop.The pace of a nation gradually recovering from a devastating 14-year civil war was stopped at an abrupt and uncertain end. Gloom hovered over Monrovia. The panic that characterized the civil war became more apparent-fleeing internationals, lowering economic activities, mass movement of people, fear, pandemonium, humiliating interaction with outsiders, unfavorable international news coverage, etc. Liberia was nearing point zero. A mid-term election for the Senate was postponed from October to November, sending a message that the health of a nation was more paramount than meeting a constitutional deadline. The hysteria began when Liberian government consultant Patrick Sawyer, died in Nigeria of Ebola. The news went viral; sending chills across Africa that Liberians were carriers of the Ebola virus, like fruit bats — the apparent natural habitat of the virus. Barely months after, the World was shocked when Thomas Eric Duncan was diagnosed of Ebola on the shores of the United States of America. Duncan, showed no signs of the virus, passed through International health protocols, and travelled to America. International media zoomed in on Liberia and the circus began.  Fear was alive. Long standing deeply entrenched stereotypes of Africans resurfaced.  A world wide campaign by Africans went viral: ‘I am an African and not a Virus’, ‘I’m a Liberian, not a virus’. Celebrated Beninoise Singer and Musician Angelique Kidjo narrated her ordeal in a moving article in the New York Times, ‘Don’t let Ebola dehumanize Africa’. She explained how naïve and evil preconceptions about Africa had resurfaced. Her encounter with a taxi driver in New York, who stigmatized her of the Ebola virus only because she was West African, summed it all.  The story of Kidjo is a tip of the iceberg of larger stories; wrapped in fear that many Africans, the world over, endured about the negative impact of the Ebola virus disease.   In Liberia, an effort to quarantine a huge slum community which is one of the ways of containing the virus went amok when residents clashed with law enforcement officers that resulted in the death of a teenager.But, with all the good news of an Ebola free Liberia, there are strong concerns of an Ebola free sub region, and ultimately, a world free of Ebola with a possibility of a vaccine for the virus.  The Global Community must not see Ebola as a neglected African infectious disease, but an international emergency. As the examples of Duncan, Sawyer, the Spanish nurse, and other foreign nationals that contracted the virus showed, Ebola is an unknown serial killer. A concerted global effort to tackle Ebola and other neglected infectious diseases should be sustained. Africa has borne the brunt of neglect and stigma of diseases she did not create. African governments should collaborate on disease surveillance and prevention mechanisms aimed at protecting their borders and citizens. The war on Ebola and other infectious diseases is like a war on terror and can’t be fought alone. In Liberia, the culture of shaking hands was permanently curtailed bringing a socio-cultural gap among the people who are accustomed to greeting with handshakes and hugs. Every home was manned with a bucket of water mixed with bleach for hand washing.  In the absence of a vaccine and treatment for Ebola, one of the perceived antidotes was good sanitation and hygiene. Ebola has left a sobering message that sanitation is a hallmark of long-term sustainable efforts in combating diarrhea, colorea and other diseases that present  symptoms akin to Ebola . Driving in Monrovia, I spotted a sign that read.’ Don’t Pepee Here’ A sanitation message that forbids people from urinating in public places. Ironically, few minutes later, three middle aged men descended on the sign and urinated profusely.  This is scary. Messages about Ebola awareness and prevention are tied to basic personal hygiene and public sanitation. Messages of constant hand washing with soap and clean water are widespread with a bucket of water posted at every entrance nowadays in Liberia. The Ebola virus is believed to be fast spreading through wastes, urine, feces, vomits, etc.  Hence, proper control of the virus means adequate sanitation.The former spirited city mayor of Monrovia, Mary Broh, was known by her fierce reputation for cleaning up the City. Every first Saturday in Monrovia is recognized as a day of general clean up, famously referred to as Mary Broh day. Liberians should not be fixated on counting the days of an Ebola free Liberia, but should be changing attitudes towards sanitation, personal hygiene, adequate preparedness in response to health and other emergencies. Health authorities should investigate reports of Ebola victims buried in shallow graves in parts of Monrovia, research dumpsites were Ebola waste materials were disposed of, all aimed at preventing a possible resurgence of the virus. As Liberia approaches the rainy season, all bolts must be tied in ensuring that sanitation remains a hallmark in the fight against the return of the serial killer.About the AuthorLekpele M. Nyamalon is a writer and poet from Liberia, an OSIWA Poetry residency fellow and the 2015 winner of World Poetry Day contest organized by Young People Today. He can be reached at nyamalon23@gmail.com Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

L$180K Raised for Boys Town Market

first_imgThe Chief Executive Officer of Shello Enterprise, Augustine Fayiah and House Speaker, Alex Tyler with many others over the weekend raised over L$180,000 for the construction of a Boys Town Market in lower Margibi County.The Shello Enterprise is in the business of providing health care and education services to the people of District #1 in Lower Margibi County and to the people of Liberia at large. Shello has a school that spans elementary thru junior high, as well as a 15-room clinic in the area. At the fundraiser held at the Salt and Light International Ministry, Mr. Fayiah made a contribution of L$100,000 and at the same time called on Liberians to engage in self-inventiveness, which he said is cardinal to the development of the district #1 and the country at large.He explained that Boys Town market women have been crying for the opportunity to support the building of a market hall in the district but lack of financial support has been the major problem.“I’m personally making a contribution of L$100,000 to ensure that our efforts toward the construction of the market hall remain intact. I have built an eleven classroom school for the people of this district and also a 15-bedroom ‘state of the art health center’ in this district,” Mr. Fayiah disclosed.Mr. Fayiah disclosed that he runs the Shello Memorial Elementary and Junior High School and the Shello Memorial Medical Center providing active services to the people.Mr. Fayiah said he is grateful to House Speaker Alex Tyler for gracing the occasion and making a contribution of L$50,000 to help with the project.“The women who are selling in the market are our mothers, sisters and relatives, who call for our support to ensure that they have a suitable business hall. We need to continue to engage in activities that promote development before calling on our international partners,” he stressed.Mr. Fayiah disclosed that he would be contesting in 2017 in the same district #1 and said he believes in seeking the welfare of the people.In remarks, House Speaker Alex Tyler urged the marketers and residents of the district to engage in positive initiatives that will help in the development of the country.According to Speaker Tyler, Liberians have complained about the lack of development without showing their contribution or engaging in actions that bring development.“Let me encourage everyone that if you take such a journey, others will join you in making or bringing this to reality. How long will we continue to beg, particularly calling on western countries to do all for us as a country?” Tyler wondered.The marketers expressed gratitude to the public for the huge turnout in contributing to the construction of market hall, particularly, Augustine Fayiah and Friends of Fayiah for undertaking the initiative to ensure that the fundraiser was successful.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

Misplaced Value: the Crux of Liberia’s Troubles

first_imgDoing our homework for today’s editorial, we relished the rich reporting in yesterday’s issue: UL students threatening “mayhem” over tuition hikes; a judge strengthening his ruling over the FDA case; a commentary on the forestry aspect of the resource curse; the commerce Minister’s announcement of price inspections; and the Ministry of Post & Telecommunications’ briefing on the progress of a postal system. In these stories, we picked up on a common thread that strikes at the heart of our troubles as a nation – and the opportunity before us. What do these stories have in common, you ask? We will explain below. But first, we quote scripture – this is, after all, Africa’s most religious country. “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in Heaven, where moths and rust do not destroy and thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matt.6:19-21)While this passage seems restrictive in terms of how one should perceive and handle things of value, it promotes a shift our national paradigm away from materialism, toward investment in the intangible (unseen) treasures around us.Now, for the stories. We were unsurprised that the UL Student Development Alliance (STUDA) would threaten “mayhem” over a per-credit price increase from L$175 to L$440 (US$5). Unruly behavior is LU students’ “usual habit”. But this particular issue is dismally absurd. If those students were to ask their counterparts across the globe for the price of their education – some averaging US$500 per credit – LU hooligans would gladly shut up, pay the US$5, and take fewer courses each semester. But here they are, threatening violence over a nickel. The report and commentary on Forestry hit the issue from two angles. In one instance, a judge had to be strong armed into issuing a sentence befitting of the economic crimes committed by the former Forestry Development Authority boss and his colleagues. In the other, a case was made for preserving Liberia’s forests as a source of revenue, instead of allowing forestry to remain another cursed resource. From these, we gather that Liberians are only just now grasping the value of our forests beyond simply being a logging money maker. Now, countries are offering us money not to cut our trees down, and we are considering these forests as medical, nutritional and touristic assets, ripe for constructive revenue generation. Our Commerce Minister, taking bold steps to encourage fair pricing of commodities, starting with the Greater Monrovia area, shows a turn toward consideration for the plight of ordinary Liberians who are daily being fleeced from the Lebanese, Indians, Chinese and their own dear compatriots. Lastly, our Post Master General – after at least four years in office – laments that Liberia still needs US$7 million for an address system. What draws these stories together is the abiding challenge Liberians have of discerning the true value of things, people, relationships, ideas, and money. To us, money is king, and seeing is believing. So, because they cannot see knowledge, our students have trouble attaching real value to it. Because they cannot monetize the total value of a forest (we see them as just trees, not as a rich ecosystem) our public officials cannot optimally utilize it, and our judges cannot adequately penalize those who exploit it. Because they cannot quantify the value of good customer relationships and a good reputation, our entrepreneurs continue to extort customers to make a quick buck. Because we do not recognize the value of a positive legacy – the lasting impact of an address system on small business needing access to finance – we drag our feet and whine about obstacles. We Liberians seem to be desperately adverse to the efficient investment of resources. How, you ask? Just ask the LU girls shopping for the latest fashion pieces, instead of spending time and money in the pursuit of knowledge; or the Legislators demanding salary increases instead of putting money into county development projects. We prefer to indulge in instant pleasure; rather than working and waiting, forgoing present comforts to receive future gain. This is not sustainable. What we need is a fresh perspective on what real treasure is. What is your treasure covered with? Rust or antirust? Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

BRAC Increases Maternal, Neo-Natal Child Health Services

first_imgWhen parents have a child in Finland, they don’t have to worry about a huge medical bill. In Liberia, the story is quite different.BRAC-Liberia has scaled up on reproductive maternal and neonatal child health services in the country. It is a leading a non-profit development organization with a mission to fulfilling the potential of underprivileged people through the implementation of programs in health, agriculture, poultry and livestock, youth empowerment as well as microfinance.Accordingly, BRAC’s Reproductive Maternal, Neo Natal and Child Health (RMNCH) program is implemented by their staff, who work in collaboration with the Ministry of Health, along with community health promoters, whose works are aimed at improving health at the community level.BRAC has designed this program as a way forward in giving its own support to the government by helping people to recognize the importance of accessing health facilities, thereby reducing maternal and child mortalities in the country.At age 19, Deborah Dixon is one of the BRAC RMNCH project beneficiaries. Ms. Dixon is grateful to the Community Health Promoter for the continuous health awareness, which has so far encouraged her to always seek treatment at a health facility rather than staying home. “BRAC workers also talk to us on breastfeeding and taking our children for vaccination,” she said. She also talked about how BRAC health workers pass by after every two weeks to do follow up.Sonnie Scott, another beneficiary and a mother of three, who lives in West Point, told the Observer Health Desk that she didn’t know anything about the program until she came in contact with the health promoters. She had swollen feet as a result of pregnancy. The health promoters encouraged her to go to the nearby health facility, where she remained and delivered her baby recently. “After giving birth, they normally make sure everything is in place for the baby, including breastfeeding,” she said of BRAC’s health workers.Kumasa Mulbah, a health coordinator, mentioned that as these health promoters visit the people daily from house to house, they are able to interact with them, encouraging the patients to realize the need to come to the health facility.“Learning to recognize high risks in pregnancy,” Mulbah indicated, “is among a series of trainings conducted by BRAC in partnership with the Ministry of Health, where all of the community health promoters and trained traditional midwives (TTMs) are taught to encourage pregnant women go to health facilities as often as possible.“A lot of people in the communities believe in the health promoters and TTMs because they are living in the community with them and are always on hand to provide much needed health services and tips,” Mulbah stated. She further said some women, who were previously refusing to seek health care at the facility, now have a great deal of confidence in the TTMs and community health promoters.“We currently have booths at different weekly markets where we give services like female condoms, injectables and pills. As we go to the communities, we encourage them to go to the facilities and to take family planning seriously,” she added.According to BRAC, West Point and parts adjacent have approximately 4,000 households and 20 community health promoters. Under the RMNCH, BRAC Liberia encourages TTMs and the community health promoters to identify pregnant women and girls and refer them to the nearest health facility through their household visits to community dwellers.Mr. Mohammed Abdus Salam, BRAC Liberia Country Representative, expressed his organization’s total commitment to reducing maternal and newborn deaths in the country. He stressed the need to work with other partners and key stakeholders to realize this goal.Meanwhile, scores of residents in the West Point area are calling on the Ministry of Health to prioritize the Reproductive Maternal, Neo Natal and Child Health services for women and adolescents. This, they believe, will help reduce risks associated with maternal and child health. Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

President Nkurunziza, Give Your People a New Year Gift of Peace

first_imgNever before in the history of Burundi has the country’s peace depended solely on one man—Pierre Nkurunziza.The whole world, but most especially the Burundian people themselves, know the recent history of this East African nation—a history that turned the nation topsy-turvy (upside down). Bloodshed and instability ensued. Yes, it started just eight months ago, last April, when PresidentNkurunziza made his ominous announcement that, despite the constitutional restriction and clear and unmistakable opposition of his people, he would seek a third term of office.To demonstrate their opposition and distaste for this unconstitutional move by their President, the people took to the streets demonstrating against his decision. But instead of bowing to the will of the people, instead of sensing the resolute undercurrent of discontent in the country, the President responded with brutality and bloodshed, killing, maiming and imprisoning anyone his ruthless security forces could put their hands on. The situation became so desperate that neighboring Rwandan President Paul Kagame was forced to ask, “What kind of politics is this”—killing people every day just to stay in power against the will of the people.President Kagame had reason to be disturbed by the horrendous developments in Burundi. Already thousands of Burundians, fleeing the widening violence, had voted, with their feet next door into Rwanda seeking refuge. President Kagame feared the outbreak of civil war in Burundi, which would seriously threaten the peace in the sub-region and in Rwanda itself—a country which, under his astute and progressive leadership, has over the past decade made serious and remarkable economic, political and economic progress.So successful has Rwanda become that it shines as a highly positive example of good governance and progress. For this reason, the people last week voted in a referendum to change the constitution to allow their enlightened, forward-looking and successful to seek a third term of office.Our only prayer is that President Paul Kagame, realizing that his prospective reelection would mark his last term of office, will not change course by relaxing his progressive, development-oriented program and start taking the people and everything else for granted.We think the warning is appropriate and timely because we have seen it in all too many places, where leaders in their last term just sit and do little or nothing, leaving the country stagnant and retrogressive and the people in a state of despondency, despair and decay. Some leaders in their last term also turn repressive, and start ruling the country with an iron fist, causing more suffering and economic and financial suffocation. President Kagame must avoid this at all cost and let the light of one East African nation radiate throughout the continent, inspiring others.But how can President Nkurunziza bring peace to Burundi? He can do so by developing the courage, goodwill and compassion for his suffering and troubled people by resigning the presidency. This alone will immediately restore the peace in Burundi and cause the people to rejoice and even thank him for diffusing the rising political chaos threatening the country. The people would be happy and so would he, and the country would be restored to peace and normalcy, ready even at additional expense, to stage a new free, fair and transparent election that would cause the world, too, to rejoice and be glad in the New Year, 2016.Perhaps this is something President Kagame can make happen by visiting his fellow President and giving him a simple advice—“Step aside and restore the peace in your country. Your people will thank you for it.” Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

Holdup Ends in One Death, Anger in New Kru Town

first_imgA 21 year old Sierra Leonean man was reportedly stabbed to death by a robber only identified as Red in a holdup attempt that went wrong Wednesday night in Nyuanpanton, near New Kru Town, Monrovia.An eye-witness told the Daily Observer that the victim was ordered by Red to empty his pockets. When Red approached the young Sierra Leonean to demand what was in his wallet and he refused, Red called out to three other friends who joined him in the attack.“He called out to his friends by the nicknames One Million, Pretty Jean and Blank Check who joined him in forcing the victim to turn his money over to them,” a neighbor said.When Red stabbed the victim, and found out that he had only LD200 on him, they realized what they had done was wrong, according to neighbors.They narrated that the victim had been struggling to make ends meet doing “a little selling business” and his death was unfortunate.“The young man was only about 21 years,” another neighbor said, adding that “his death makes it five the number of young people in the community who have been killed by knife wielding robbers since the beginning of 2016.” When the victim’s fellow Sierra Leoneans heard about his death, a group of them, armed with anything they could use as weapons, rushed to Nyuanpanton to search for anyone connected to the young man’s death, residents told the Daily Observer.“His friends came to our community in search of those involved in the boy’s death and when they located Red and his friends’ zinc house they began to break it down.“Later the police were informed sent out several officers, including PSU who came to calm the situation down,” an eyewitness said. Meanwhile, Police officers have arrested one of the four attackers named One Million and detained him at the New Kru Town Depot, while investigations continued yesterday.The body of the victim was deposited at the Redemption Hospital morgue.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

Printing More Money Out Of Thin Air

first_imgThe Editor,The decision to print more money represents a clear and present danger to the Liberian economy and its people!! (Re “House Approve Printing of Additional Money,” Daily Observer)When a government prints more money without a corresponding increase in its economic output, it unleashes hyperinflation. And hyperinflation debases your currency.Memo to economically-illiterate Liberian Lawmakers: Look, we all know that you people (Lawmakers) think money grows on trees and you have the power to “issue currency” (Article 34-d) out of thin air….But at whose expense should you “issue currency” out of thin air?Printing more money out of thin air and without a corresponding increase in your economic output also means that you are stealing other people’s life savings. How?Because with more money in circulation, prices of goods and services will definitely skyrocket! Many people’s life savings would not be enough to buy a loaf of Fanti bread to feed their family or buy access to Speaker Tyler’s office. For all practical purposes, the Liberian people would have been robbed, big time, by the stupidity of their own leaders.But the Liberian government won’t be the first to have stolen their people’s money this way. For thousands and thousands of years, elected leaders have been stealing from their own people – from Nero in ancient Rome to Doe in Liberia to Mugabe in Zimbabwe.If you don’t believe what I just said, look at what happened to Zimbabwe: In 2007, President-for-life Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe ordered his Central Bank Governor to print an additional Z$1 trillion to pay for civil servants’ and soldiers’ salaries that were hiked by 600% and 900% respectively. Of course, that made Zimbabwean soldiers and civil servants millionaires and zillionaires, but at whose expense?Every Zimbabwean, poor and rich, saw the value of their money vanish because of hyperinflation. People needed a wheelbarrow full of money (Zimbabwean dollar) just to buy a loaf of Lebanese bread.Today, the Zimbabwean dollar is useless and worthless. Many business owners DO NOT accept Zimbabwean dollars – instead, they request U.S. dollars or South African rands for their goods and services.What lesson must we LEARN from Zimbabwe? Don’t print more money, you idiots!! Why? Because the most insidious way to destroy a country is to destroy its currency (John Maynard Keynes)!Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

Athletic League Commends Veep Boakai

first_imgThe Boakai Athletic League (BALE) has commended Vice President Joseph N. Boakai for his new elevation as the standard bearer of Unity Party.The secretary general of BALE J. Yourvor Kollie said Vice President Boakai’s success demonstrates his organization’s position that he resembles much that can be attained by Liberian youth when the road he has traveled is examined.“He (Veep Boakai) is a patriot and he has shown by his public service to the nation and the people,” Kollie said. “We as members of an organization to encourage young people to emulate his example are excited about his achievement.”He recounted Vice President Boakai’s difficult journey has traveled to where he is. “From a humble and poor family he did not give up when things were tough. He kept his focus, for he had a vision that quality is not by accident and we want young Liberians to emulate that,” Kollie noted.Kollie said though his organization is sport related the principles of patriotism, which is love for country; patience in the face of challenges is essential in the application of what any Liberian can do to bring success for the country.He spoke highly of Veep Boakai’s leadership skills and said doing some of them could elevate Liberia to another level and therefore his organization is determined to champion the principles that Ambassador Boakai stand for and hold dear to his heart to make Liberia better.Contributing, BALE’s Anthony McGill, lll, said Ambassador Boakai has shown that he is a peacemaker and a unifier and therefore Liberians should welcome his current position as the standard bearer of the Unity Party.It may be recalled that Vice President Boaka was elected the standard bearer of the Unity Party at the party’s convention in Gbarnga, Bong County recently.The Boakai Athletic League (BALE) was recently organized to champion the patriotic principles that Ambassador Boakai has honored in his life to encourage youth athletes to emulate his example.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

Protesting Schools Ordered Closed

first_imgA number of students who demonstrated in Margibi County, vandalized properties and blocked major highways trying to claim government’s attention—all in an effort to see their teachers back in the classrooms—have definitely missed the mark.This is because their action has caused President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf to order those teachers who had protested, dismissed, while she promised to deal with students who were part of the demonstrations.An outraged President Sirleaf upon her arrival from the United States at the Roberts International Airport (RIA) in Margibi County yesterday, called on the Ministry of Education (MOE) to close with immediate effect, those schools that carried out the strike actions. She also said that if teachers of those schools were involved, they should be dismissed as well. On Tuesday, protesting students in Unification Town (Smell-No-Taste) near RIA blocked the airport-Monrovia highway demanding the return of their teachers to class.This was preceded by another strike action on Monday, when normal commercial activities and the free-flow of traffic were brought to a standstill in Kakata, Margibi County’s political capital. Those students took to the streets in solidarity with the leadership of the National Teachers Association of Liberia (NTAL) demanding the resignations of Minister Werner and MCSS Superintendent Jacobs.The students’ actions, however, turned violent, resulting in ransacking of several public buildings in Kakata. Also, they reportedly vandalized government facilities, including the 13th Judicial Circuit Court, offices of the National Elections Commission, the county’s Service Center and part of the fence that surrounds the Ministry of Education (MOE) facilities in Kakata. As to the fate of the striking students, President Sirleaf said the students’ actions have caused a lot of loses to the government, private citizens, companies and organizations, especially airlines and as such, the students would have to bear the consequences of their actions. “I’m going to instruct the Ministry of Education to close those schools immediately. We are going to ask for those students who were involved in the protest and deal with them,” she declared, adding, “And if there were teachers involved, they too will be dismissed until we see them handle themselves as leaders in the classrooms.”The President indicated that her government will begin a program of discipline in the country, noting, “I heard the news of the students’ strike action while I was in Ghana on Wednesday.”“It was brought to my attention that on Tuesday students blocked the RIA road, our major highway. As a result of that, many people came to their flights by changing from cars to riding on motorbikes, carrying their luggage in their hands and on their heads. Some of them also ended up missing their flights,” she said.The President was concerned because most of the airlines left RIA without taking their required passengers which was a loss to them. Some of the schools to be affected by the President’s pronouncement are the Lango Lappaye High School, E. J. Yancy, the Kakata Rural Teacher Training Institute (KRTTI) Demonstration School, all in Kakata, and the Harbel Multilateral R. S. Caulfield High School in Harbel and Smell-No-Taste.Although the President’s decision could be referred to as generic because not all of the students in those schools went out to protest, all of them will now bear the same consequences. The Liberia National Police attempted to calm the rising tension when the newly appointed Inspector General, Gregory Coleman, began discussions among the MOE, NTAL and the MCSS Teachers Association to end the hostilities, but the President’s pronouncement might have scuttled those talks.Coleman, during his intervention, said the sporadic blocking of major highways in the country, including the Monrovia-Kakata highway and the RIA-Monrovia highway by protesting students was worrisome.Coleman encouraged the belligerent parties to find ways to get the students to return to their classrooms as soon as possible.He said finding a quick and amicable solution to the standoff was important for the country’s peace and security, and also for the benefit of the innocent students who are victims of the unfortunate situation.Some local radio stations, including the Liberia Broadcasting System, have reported that other than Margibi, some public school students and teachers in Lofa, Gbarpolu, River Cess, and other counties also joined in the demonstrations to demand Werner’s resignation.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more