“Trees that are slow to grow bear the best fruits”

first_imgWhen President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf tapped CSA boss George Werner to head the Ministry of Education, it came as a surprise to many and perhaps the question on their minds was, “Is he the right one for the job?” The question stems from the fact that many of the “old and experienced hands” could not deliver on the task given them.The Liberian education system is emerging from a prolonged and brutally destructive period of civil unrest. Liberia is significantly behind most other countries in the African region in nearly all education statistics.After 14 years of civil war, which resulted in the destruction of much of the country’s trained workforce, the country is still in the process of rebuilding its educational system, according to the USAID.To compound it all, in 2013, 25,000 persons who sat the University of Liberia exams failed miserably that it caught the attention of the world. President Sirleaf finally had to admit that the system is a “mess and requires a complete overhaul.”That Liberian students could not pass a university entrance without garnering headlines around the world for all the wrong reasons meant our education system has indeed faltered and is no longer in its pre-war years when it was second to none.And even after the cessation of hostilities twelve years after and the appointments of seasoned educators, that sector continues to take a nosedive.And so many are wondering about the background of the newly appointed minister and what has he to offer to our already broken system. Education, it seems, has been the lifeblood of this young man nearly all his life.George Werner holds a BA in Education from the Pontifical Urbaniana University in Rome and a Master of Arts in social work (concentration in social policy) from the University of Pennsylvania School of Social Policy and Practice while earning a cumulative GPA of 3.80. To sum it up, he studied didactics, (which is the science of teaching) as a one year non degree course at the University of South Africa, Pretoria. And he has taught across the world from Liberia, South Africa and the United States of America.Prior to his appointment, he currently serves a Director general of the Civil Service Agency, one of the many government agencies that was dogged by the issues of ghost names, salaries etc. He spearheaded the Civil Service reform in an effort to regularize the civil service, optimize the size of government and professionalized the workforce for improved service delivery.Lest we forget that he currently oversees the inter-ministerial scholarship from bilateral partners and under his watch, scholarships are given on merit, unlike the yesteryears when the doling out of scholarships was mired in the patronage system.As mentioned supra, President Sirleaf has already claimed that our education system is a mess. And now that herculean task of dry cleaning that mess rests squarely on the shoulders of George Werner and his team of lieutenants.First, he has to use his magic wand to clear the names of ghost teachers on the payroll, teachers receiving their salaries on time so it doesn’t obstruct teachings and teachers who are yearning for employment but are yet contracted.Then there’s the issue of competency of the teachers. Having an undergraduate degree doesn’t necessarily mean you are qualified to teach. Teaching, like any profession, has ethics that govern the teachers.Due to the fact the many of our teachers eschew teacher training, the line of demarcation between a teacher and a student, howbeit thin, is hardly ever seen. Hence, there are always reports of intimacy between teachers and students. Few years ago, a teacher of Cathedral Catholic School was remanded at the Monrovia Central Prison for having an intimate relationship with an underage female student. This is one area the incoming minister will have to apply fifty shades of gray.In order for a student to compete with students from around the globe, he/she must be taught from a rather strong curriculum. Truth be told, Liberia’s education curriculum is antiquated. When the trial exams of West African Senior School Certificate Examination were administered, it was only Elvis Juasemai, a student of the Soltiamon Christian School System, emerged by the skin of a flea with flying colors. Another issue constantly overlooked but can certainly be given the limelight when Werner takes office is the absence of extracurricular activities in our schools. Extracurricular activities are those that fall outside the realm of school or university education. Most times students go into university without knowing what to do. That’s because they never found their niche in high school, thanks to the lack of extracurricular activities in these schools.In a commentary titled, “Neglecting Extra-curricular Activities Could Perpetuate Poor WAEC Results,” Liberian journalist Momolu Dorley laments: “Extra-curricular activities is a crucial component to education in any successful country because it allows the student to learn about theatre, about passion, imagination and self-discovery. I am of the conviction that one of the joys of education is letting folks discover the pleasure of learning for them.”As a former teacher, Werner understands fully the significance of extracurricular activities and its contribution to the growth and development of students cannot be over emphasized.Werner has an ambitious plan to get the education sector better than what it was during the prewar years. To have a smooth sailing, he needs the support of all and sundry. Currently, government spends 12% of its annual budget on education, a paltry sum when one compares it to Ghana which currently spends 33% of its annual budget on education.Yes, the expectations are high and to whom much is given, much is also expected but we must be reminded by the words of the French playwright artist Jean Baptiste Poquelin, also known by his stage name as Moliere: “trees that are slow to grow bear the best fruits.”About the author: Gboko John Stewart, a product of Monrovia College, is a freelance journalist and radio talk show host. He has been accepted to study at Quest University Canada. He runs an online petition on change.org and has gathered over 1000 signatures calling on the Canadian government to lift its visa ban on Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone so that he and others can travel there for studies.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

Raiders coach Jon Gruden celebrates season-opening win in the Black Hole, lives to tell the tale

first_img Raiders’ … Raiders Straight Talk: Derek Carr speculation won’t stop any time soon Don’t be surprised if you see Jon Gruden’s name on the Raiders’ injury list Tuesday.No, he didn’t play a down in the Raiders’ Monday night season opener. He didn’t suffer a weight room mishap. Remember when Deion Sanders, then with the 49ers, celebrated a pick-six by performing the Tonawanda two-step into the end zone and wound up with a tweaked groin?Related Articleslast_img

Five keys for the Raiders against AFC West powerhouse Kansas City

first_imgOAKLAND — The team the Raiders hope to be when they grow up identified itself in Week 1.Their maturity level will be tested in a big way Sunday at 1:05 p.m. when the Raiders host the Kansas City Chiefs at the Coliseum.The Raiders are younger, faster, stronger. They’re also facing the gold standard of the AFC West, a four-time defending champion they have lost to eight times in the last nine meetings. That one victory needed four snaps from the 10 or closer before Derek Carr finally hit …last_img

Praise for South Africa’s climate policies

first_img6 December 2011 The second GLOBE Climate Legislation Study, released at the UN Climate Change Conference (COP 17) in Durban on Monday, praises South Africa for setting an example by moving to introduce climate change legislation. A high-level delegation, including UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres, UK Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change Chris Huhne, and GLOBE president Lord Deben, attended Monday’s launch. Deben said South Africa was the most encouraging country in the world, and was once again taking a lead with comprehensive planned legislation to deal with climate change. South Africa’s white paper on climate change presents a vision for an effective climate change response and long-term goals towards a lower-carbon economy and climate-resilient society. It includes a proposal to set emissions reduction outcomes for each significant sector in the economy. The GLOBE Climate Legislation Study documents the national climate change policy of 17 major economies in the world, and this year there has been significant political movement in 10 of the countries, including South Africa. The study shows that developing countries are much more proactive than their developed counterparts in introducing legislation that deals with climate change. The United States and Canada are a few countries from the developed world that came under fire in the study for lack of action to develop climate change legislation. Figueres said it was sad that the US was losing opportunities to be a leading force for a greener world economy. She said she hoped to see more progress from other countries when the study is next undertaken. China is one example, and is expected to provide the motor of global economic growth in coming decades. China has continued to publish more detailed policies and measures to deliver its carbon and energy-intensity targets. The study said Mexico has been one of the most active developing countries in relation to conducting and updating the UNFCCC’s national inventories on greenhouse emissions. The Australian government’s Clean Energy Act has a long-term target of reducing net greenhouse gas emissions to 80 percent below 2000 levels by 2050 by putting a price on carbon, initially through a fixed carbon tax (2012-2015) and through an emissions trading scheme. Climate change legislation is one way of attracting sustainable investments and business opportunities, according to UK Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change Chris Huhne. The study is also aimed at helping policy makers from other countries to draft legislation. Source: BuaNewslast_img read more

States tackle water quality individually and collectively

first_imgShare Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest Of all of the components of agriculture that is overseen by the Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA), the topic of water quality and nutrient management has been a key focus for many years.ODA’s Director David Daniels, along with Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development Director Jamie Clover Adams and Indiana State Department of Agriculture Director Ted McKinney held a roundtable Monday, prior to the Midwest Association of the State Departments of Agriculture’s Annual Meeting being held in Cleveland this week.All three state ag department leaders talked about what their state is doing to address the issue of water quality and nutrient management and also shared how their 3 states are working together to find solutions that work in creating a healthier Lake Erie Watershed.Director Daniels reeled off the many initiatives being delivered in Ohio to address the situation, including the Fertilizer Applicator Certification Training Program, Ag Stewardship Verification, the Ohio Applicator Forecast Tool and millions of dollars of investments to help agriculture and other industries become a big part of finding a solution to the water quality problem.“Since 2011, Ohio has invested over $2 Million in the Lake Erie Watershed to improve drinking water, to improve wastewater treatment facilities, to plant cover crops, to install control drainage systems and to fix faulty septic systems within the basin,” Daniels said. “Agriculture is one of many contributors and we are working hard to make sure that we not only address agriculture’s piece in this, but everybody else as well.”One of the practices that farmers are adopting in Ohio is planting cover crops. Almost 54,000 acres of Ohio farmland was planted to cover crops last winter and their popularity is growing. To date, the state has installed 900 controlled drainage structures and 50 new manure storage structures are in place.“Almost 34,000 acres of farmland has been converted into filter strips and repaired buffers near creeks and streams and another 6,800 acres have been converted to wetlands,” Daniels said. “As we look at where Ohio is with what we are doing and how we are working within our state and across state lines, we show that agriculture has been quick to react and put its best foot forward.”AUDIO: Ohio Department of Agriculture Director David Daniels full opening statement from the roundtable conference call earlier this week.ODA Director Daniels Commentslast_img read more

D.R. Horton’s New Homes Will Include HERS Index Labels

first_imgThe Residential Energy Services Network’s Home Energy Rating System, known as the HERS Index, continues to advance in the marketplace. So far, more than 60 state and regional builders have committed to marketing the HERS Index scores of the homes they build, according to RESNET’s list of partners.One of the newest to join the list is the Illinois division of the largest builder in the U.S., D.R. Horton.RESNET, which announced the agreement with Horton on October 6, calls the companies that market their homes’ HERS Index scores RESNET Energy Smart Builders, a distinction intended to highlight the homes’ energy performance – and the reliability of HERS scores – to prospective buyers.HERS raters collect energy performance data about the home they’re testing and compare it to that of an imaginary reference home of the same size and shape. The reference home is “built” to barely meet the 2006 International Energy Conservation Code. A RESNET-approved computer program calculates the energy efficiency of the home being tested and indexes it to the reference home, which is assigned a HERS score of 100. The lower the HERS score of the tested home, the more energy efficient it is.Building the HERS Index brandHERS Index scores do seem to be among the simplest and most concise ways of describing a home’s energy performance to prospective buyers. A number of builders, including production builder KB Home, and other energy-focused agencies, such as the Department of Energy, have come up with “mileage stickers” to help highlight the energy efficiency performance of homes in simple terms. Some stickers use a HERS Index score to tout performance. Some, such as the DOE Home Energy Score and Earth Advantage Institute, cite estimated BTUs used annually. The DOE also has created an EnergySmart Home Scale sticker that features estimated gas and electric usage as well as comparative HERS Index ratings. KB Home’s Energy Performance Guide includes both estimated monthly energy costs and a HERS Index graphic.Not all RESNET alliances are with builders. Early this year, the Passive House Institute U.S. agreed to become an affiliate member of RESNET, assign an HERS Index rating to Passive House buildings, and “adopt rating standards and procedures that harmonize with the RESNET provisions for Passive House certification, quality assurance, codes of ethics, and standards of practice.” The two organizations also agreed to adopt a uniform calculation of carbon savings for buildings built to the Passive House standard.last_img read more