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When Liberians Become Desperate for Economic Change: Is Slavery An Option?

first_imgI could not stop laughing my guts out from what I heard few months ago. As Liberians anxiously trooped their way in huge quantity to play Diversity Visa (DV) nationwide, one of the applicants who is a Liberian, said he would prefer going to America as a SLAVE than to live in his own country. Another citizen said he is willing to walk in the street naked if only he is given an assurance to obtain a US visa. These are the funniest, but most serious and embarrassing remarks I have ever heard since last year. These statements are making me to ponder and wonder about where our country is going.  How could anyone stoop so low? I guess besides these men, who have made known their frustrating intentions, many others have similar thoughts. This shows how desperate our people are to detach themselves from poverty. It also means they have had enough and cannot continue to suffer in a small rich country of their own where hardship is eating them up. Anyone can easily predict Liberia’s future judging from present day reality.How could our people be brought so low? Don’t they deserve to reap a better living condition? Aren’t they human beings? Must they continue to undergo deep destitution even when they live in a nation of abundant natural resources? Were they borne to endure poverty and economic inequality? Or don’t they deserve the socio-economic dividends of the taxes they pay? I really don’t intend to answer these critical questions now, but I shall endeavor to do so after our current fight against Ebola. The collective destiny of our people seems hopeless and to even think about becoming slaves in a foreign land creates a dark cloud over Liberia. Their persistent pursuit of better livelihood remains unrealistic as a small portion of self-seeking extortionists and elitists continues to amass illegal wealth. The primary goal of these imported bureaucrats and opportunists is to keep our people far below the economic ladder and compel them to always be followers. The chain of poor governance must be broken in order to engender democratic sustainability. An equal and just Liberia can no longer be overemphasized!Ebola would not have overrun us if those we stood in long queues to elect yesteryears were working in our interest. Sadly, this brutal virus has taken advantage of our poor health system by putting an end to several lives. It is unfortunate that we have lost 4,057 persons so far to this destructive disease. This could not have happened if we had patriotic public servants. Regrettably, such is a time when an unforeseen disaster is threatening our mutual existence. Our people must not give up even during this difficult period of uncertainty. The fight against ebola depicts a new era of economic and political transformation. We shall use this situation to decide the fate of those who are playing gamble with our future. No one goes to the Executive Mansion or Legislature without the permission of our people. Therefore, it is important for all of us to rise above Ebola by taking all necessary precautions and disengaging from complacency. I know it may seem difficult for some of you to live by the rules, but please do whatever little you can to stay safe. This national crisis will soon be over!From what I see and hear every day, most of our people are willing and ready to sell their self-respect in order to untie themselves from long-standing adversity in Liberia. The shackle of poverty has overcome their determination and endurance. As Ebola increases their existing trauma, nothing seems more essential to them right now, other than leaving Liberia to a better destination. No wonder why some of them would prefer going to the United States as SLAVES. This preference is not only painful, but very humiliating. All of these frustrations being expressed by our people simply points to bad governance and lack of public trust. I hope the status quo will shift towards equality and justice for all when we finally defeat ebola. If only we were not depending on our oppressors to ignite economic revival since 1847, Liberia would have been an equal and just society. However, it is never too late to demand inclusive change from a cartel of economic migrants. The power is in our hands to either remain where we are or to advance ourselves.I want to disabuse the minds of all Liberians who feel that reducing yourself to nothing in order to have an American Visa is an option. Slavery is not a choice. It keeps your mind, body, and soul in chain till death. It should not be an option for any Liberian. You are above it and you must live beyond it. Even though times are hard to an extent our people lack access to minimum basic social services, but this must not be a reason to trade human dignity. Unacceptable and Unthinkable! This nation can rise above its current condition if and only if everyone begins to protect one another’s interest. Liberia can become a better place if no one group of people considers it as an inheritance or family farm. This country can only cultivate tangible developments if the down-trodden masses become up-trodden. Of course, it is their right to have access to good food, safe drinking water, better housing, quality education, improved health care, security, etc. No one, not even those at the helm of national leadership should see this as a privilege. The outcry of our people has been given deaf ears for too long to an extent that they have been considered ‘noisy minority’. The voices of those who have power to institute a legitimate government as per our constitution sound useless even when the realities are glaring. How could this be?  I can imagine the misery our people go through everyday just to survive. They move up and down daily on empty bellies in search of survival.  With Ebola creating an extra economic burden on them, their hope for a brighter future is gradually crumbling. Panic and fear have become their closest companions. Self-pity is eating most of our people up, and if we refuse to take appropriate measures to guarantee pubic happiness, generations to come will hold us responsible.The change we have been yearning for since the very formation of our nation must begin with the fight against Ebola.  After this countrywide fight, I am confident that our people shall use every opportunity available to chart a new course. I hope they will make good use of their ballots to protest and take control of their own destiny. The lessons learnt from this current Ebola crisis will be used as a conscious barometer to reshape Liberia and all who live in it. The cradle of African democracy (Liberia) must lead this continent by exceptional examples. This can only be realized if transparency replaces corruption, if merit substitutes nepotism, if patriotism surpasses pretense, if justice overcomes injustice, if economic freedom suppresses political oppression, if equality succeeds inequality! Liberians are potential people with unique attributes, as such; slavery is not an option for anyone of them to prefer.  As we continue to combat Ebola together, I hope no one will use this unfortunate situation to pay his/her mortgage bills in the USA.  This is not time to divert public resources to private accounts. We are watching with eagle eyes and we will resist any dishonest attempt to exploit our people’s ignorance this time around. About The Author: Martin K. N. Kollie is a Liberian youth activist, student leader, an emerging economist, and a young writer.  He is currently a student at the University of Liberia reading Economics and a member of the Student Unification Party (SUP).  His passion is to ensure a new Liberia of socio-economic equality and justice for ALL. He can be reached at: martinkerkula1989@yahoo.comShare this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

Govt should demonstrate an even-handed approach to all workers

first_imgDear Editor,I have been following closely the developments regarding the RUSAL workers who, I believe, are rightly standing up for what they rightly deserve. The actions by the foreign company have no place in contemporary Guyana and I have recognised that several voices of condemnation have been raised.I noticed too what can be seen as a very proactive approach by the Government which has publicly stated that it stands with the workers on the matter. This is a most welcome position by the Administration which has committed to going at great lengths to ensure that the workers are protected.While I am happy about those developments, at the same time, I cannot help but recognise the differing approach to workers matters by the Government. I cannot recollect the Administration taking such a strong position regarding the teachers who eventually took strike action to get what they correctly deserved.Similarly, the Administration’s silence regarding the troubles that beset thousands of sugar workers and their families is dishearteningly deafening. On that score, I saw the Government providing hampers to the affected RUSAL workers but have not seen similar wisdom to assist our sugar workers who, according to Guyana Times, are now forced in one area to pick wild vegetables and catching fish in order to have a meal.I hope that the Government will remain resolute in defence of the RUSAL workers, but in the same vein, it needs to demonstrate an even-handed approach to workers who are all Guyanese and who justifiably deserve the assistance of the State.Yours faithfully,Patricia Persaudlast_img read more

NAPS Programme Manager calls it quits after 11 years

first_imgHaving served for just over a decade as the Programme Manager of the National AIDS Programme at the Public Health Ministry, Dr Shanti Singh has resigned.Guyana Times understands Dr Singh’s resignation was submitted on Friday last and takes effect on October 1, 2016, bringing to an end an 11-year tenure as the NAPS Programme Manager.The NAPS Director in a missive circulated to colleagues on Tuesday said “I have tendered my resignation as the Programme Manager of the National AIDS Programme Secretariat, Ministry of Public Health effective October 1st, 2016… I wish to thank you for the support that you have given to me over the 11 years that I have served the programme.”Efforts to contact Public Health Minister, Dr George Norton for a comment proved futile. This publication understands Dr Rhonda Moore of the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC) has since been seconded to fill the post as NAPS Programme Manager.Sources close to Dr Singh, told Guyana Times that her decision was not as a result of any untoward developments but rather she had decided that it was time for her to move on.last_img read more

Health Ministry Urges Medical Directors to Accept ‘Patients’

first_imgThe Ministry of Health and Social Welfare (MOHSW) has urged over 200 medical directors from hospitals and clinics across the Liberia to accept patients and not turn them down.This call is coming in the wake of constant media reports that hospitals and major health facilities were allegedly rejecting patients showing certain symptoms that might somewhat look like the deadly Ebola Virus disease (EVD).At the weekly press briefing held by the Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism (MICAT) Thursday, July 17, the Assistant Health Minister for Preventive Services, Mr. Tolbert G. Nyenswah, confirmed that some healthcare delivery institutions were rejecting patients without diagnosing the case of those patients fearing that they (patients) had come in with the EVD. “This has grabbed our attention at the Ministry,” Min. Nyenswah stated.  He maintained that JFK, Phebe Hospital, Redemption Hospital, St. Joseph Catholic Hospital, among others, have committed themselves to supporting the fight against the spread of the virus.Nyenswah said at the end of their meeting with the health facilities’ medical directors, they assured the Minister of Health and Social Welfare that they will not reject any patient seeking medical treatments at their facilities.Speaking on related Ebola developments, he disclosed that 11 persons, including health petitioners, who had been tested positive with the virus, which has a case fatality rate of 90 percent, have been released from isolated areas and reunited in their communities after they repeatedly tested negative of the Ebola.The Asst. Health Minister also told the press conference, which is broadcast live, that to date, there is no vaccine or cure for the deadly Ebola virus, which has now added Bong County to its list of casualties.The four new Ebola cases reported in the country are in Bong, and it is among health workers, who are on the frontline fighting to save the lives of sick people. Among the four, one has so far been confirmed positive as having the virus.The Bong outbreak now brings the total number of persons that have fallen prey to the virus to 73 since the outbreak was reported in March.From that number, at least 54 persons have died and included in that number are 11 health workers, according to the Ministry’s Situation Report on the outbreak in the country.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

€5 MEAL DEAL FOR THE LITTLE ‘CHICKS’ THIS EASTER WEEKEND AT KELLY’S DINER MOUNTAIN TOP

first_imgFEATURES: Kelly’s Diner has established itself as one of the finest restaurants in Donegal over the years, and its desire to uphold high standards in customer service and excellence has ensured its amazing popularity. Management at the award-winning diner are always striving to provide their loyal customer base, that is growing all the time – with quality food at quality prices. This Easter, it’s no different – and there’s cracking deals on for all the little ‘chicks’ out there over the Easter holidays.All children’s meal deals are just €5, and that amazing deals lasts ALL weekend!On top of that sensational deal, they’ve got the ever popular Steak Night, a juicy sirloin steak with all the trimmings is still just a mouth-watering €10 – now that’s value!Remember, today is Good Friday, so there will be plenty of us depending on your religious creed that won’t be able to eat red meat, but don’t worry we’ve got that covered too. Why not treat yourself to fresh battered Fish and Chips for just €9 as part of our Good Friday special.Then on Easter Sunday, why not treat the family to a delicious lunch at Kelly’s Diner – with a three-course meal costing you just €13.95!The food is amazing, the staff are lovely, and the prices can’t be beat, so make sure and drop into Kelly’s Diner this weekend.ALSO: With all kids meals for just €5, that includes juice and ice-cream!€5 MEAL DEAL FOR THE LITTLE ‘CHICKS’ THIS EASTER WEEKEND AT KELLY’S DINER MOUNTAIN TOP was last modified: March 24th, 2016 by Mark ForkerShare this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window) Tags:chicksdealEasterKelly’s DinerKidsMountain Top€5last_img read more

Pats get Charged-up

first_img After his Chargers beat New England 41-17 Sunday, the San Diego coach suggested the win may have had as much to do with who wasn’t playing for New England as the superior performances of Drew Brees, LaDainian Tomlinson and Antonio Gates. “What they’ve done is remarkable,” he said of the Patriots, who had their 21-game home winning streak ended. “But at what point in time do you keep responding when you have to keep putting in new players? They’ve done it wonderfully over the last four years, but there comes a time where it has to catch up with you, even with a team as great as this one.” Harrison’s absence the physical side was clearly felt on one play in the third quarter when backup running back Michael Turner ran right through his replacement, Guss Scott, on the way to an 18-yard gain. That drive ended with a 28-yard touchdown pass to Reche Caldwell that gave San Diego (2-2) a 31-17 lead. Brees also had an 11-yard touchdown pass to Keenan McCardell in the second quarter. Gates, a former basketball player, also leaped over Scott to take in a 38-yard pass from Brees at the New England 1 on the first series of the second half. That set up a 1-yard touchdown run by Tomlinson, who finished with 134 yards on 25 carries and overall Tomlinson extended his NFL record to 16 consecutive games with a rushing touchdown, and San Diego rushed for 183 yards against a defense that also is without last year’s starting inside linebackers, Tedy Bruschi and Ted Johnson. The Patriots, coming off an emotional win in Pittsburgh a week ago, didn’t want to blame the loss on the new players. After all, they’ve won three Super Bowls in four seasons continuing on when key players were injured or departed for other reasons. “Rodney’s always been a big defender for us, helping us out there but we don’t have Rodney now,” said Eugene Wilson, the other starting safety. “I don’t know what Rodney could have done out there today to change it.” Coach Bill Belichick seemed to say the same. “San Diego is the better team,” he said. They did a good job in every area better than we did and I think the score reflected that.” Asked how much the injuries contributed, Belichick paused for a second or two and replied: “I don’t know.” The first half included a rare missed field goal by Adam Vinatieri, who was wide right from 37 yards on the Patriots’ first possession. New England scored its touchdowns on Corey Dillon’s 1-yard run and a 30-yard pass from Brady to Tim Dwight, who was released by San Diego in March. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREThe top 10 theme park moments of 2019 This was New England’s first loss in Foxborough since Dec. 22, 2002, when they were beaten by the New York Jets. That was the only season in the last four that they failed to win the Super Bowl. The last time the Patriots started a season 2-2 was 2003, though they went on to win the title that year anyway. The last time they lost at home to San Diego was in 1970, winning seven straight before Sunday. San Diego, which has now scored 86 points in two wins after starting with two losses, was nearly unstoppable against a defense with a lot of holes. Brees threw for two touchdowns, Tomlinson ran for two more and Gates had six catches for 108 yards. Though the game was tied 17-all at the half, Brees took advantage of a secondary that already was without two of its top three cornerbacks and now is missing safety Rodney Harrison, lost for the year with a knee injury. “I played with Rodney, I know what a leader he is,” Brees said. “It’s not only the physical things he does. It’s the leadership, the mental toughness, what he imparts to his teammates. I know they’ve been able to put in a lot of subs over the years and not miss anything, but a player like Rodney is something special.” center_img FOXBOROUGH, Mass. Injuries finally caught up with the New England Patriots. San Diego’s explosive offense added to the misery. Even Marty Schottenheimer knew something wasn’t right with the defending Super Bowl champions. last_img read more

At least four dead as heavy rains hit eastern U.S.

first_imgALSTEAD, N.H. – Prolonged, heavy rains caused flooding from North Carolina to New Hampshire over the weekend, forcing hundreds of people to evacuate, knocking out electricity and making roads unpassable. At least four people died, including two people killed in New Hampshire when a car apparently drove off a washed out bridge into flood waters, officials said Sunday. Gov. John Lynch returned from Europe to take charge of relief efforts in New Hampshire. He declared a state of emergency and called in 500 National Guard members for assistance. “This is classic river flooding,” said Jim Van Dongen, spokesman for the state’s Emergency Management office. “It’s been raining since Friday night and there is nowhere for the water to go.” And in North Carolina, Gov. Mike Easley warned residents to stay away from swollen rivers and creeks, already high from Hurricane Ophelia last month. The state’s Department of Transportation reported 41 roads closed because of flooding. The National Weather Service reported that more than 5 inches of rain fell in Wilmington, N.C., on Saturday. North Carolina’s Brunswick and Pender counties saw between 7 and 10 inches of rain in four days. Allentown, Pa., received 10 inches between Friday and Saturday. “They didn’t predict this much rain,” said Joan Kinney, mayor of Boiling Spring Lakes, N.C., which unofficially measured more than 15 inches of rain. “It took us all by surprise.” The most severe flooding in New Hampshire was in Keene, where some major roads were under as much as 4 to 6 feet of water, fire officials said. Keene Fire Chief Gary Lamoureaux estimated 30 to 40 percent of the downtown area was under water. Keene State College canceled Monday classes and told out-of-town students to stay away. About 500 people were evacuated, and about 150 were staying at a shelter in a recreation center Sunday. In nearby Stoddard, residents were also told to leave. Officials heard reports that houses washed into rivers, dams were breached and bridges in several communities were washed out. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!center_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREThe top 10 theme park moments of 2019 In Pennsylvania, state police said Tiffany Wieand, 19, of Milford Township, died Saturday when she tried to drive through a flooded roadway and lost control of her car. The vehicle slid into a guardrail, flipped onto its side and was submerged under the bridge, trapping her inside, police said. In Allentown, two boys were rescued from Cedar Creek on Saturday after their inflatable raft overturned. Firefighters tossed the boys – who were clinging to a small tree – a pair of life jackets, and then pulled them to safety with a rope. In New Jersey, Shane Belluardo of Tobyhanna, Pa., died from head injuries Saturday after his parents’ car lost control on eastbound Interstate 80 in Knowlton, and he slid beneath the wheels of a passing dump truck, according to state Police Sgt. Steven Jones. Eight-foot-high flood waters from the Ramapo River caused officials in New Jersey’s Bergen County to evacuate about 30 residents Saturday night and early Sunday, Mayor John Szabo said. Rain also knocked out electricity to as many as 6,000 utility customers across the state. In Vermont, more than 200 people, including residents of a Brattleboro senior citizen home, were evacuated Saturday night. last_img read more

DD LOCAL: CHILDREN’S BOOK COURSE FOR ADULTS IN ANNAGRY

first_imgJimmy Duffy’s Annagry Community NotesCHILDRENS BOOK COURSE FOR ADULTSDublin based children’s book author and illustrator Adrienne Geoghegan will facilitate a 5 day course in Annagry Community Hall. This course will be held from Monday July 21st until Friday July 25th from 10am-4pm. Subjects will include “How to write in Pictures, building a story framework, physical structure of a picture book” among many other valuable topics. For further information, email Kim at poearthpots@gmail.com To view Ms. Geoghegan’s portfolio visit http://www.adriennegeoghegan.com/site/portfolio/box-art/LOTTOThe numbers drawn in the Naomh Muire Club Lotto on June 25th were 2-10-11-24. There was no winner of the €1280 jackpot. Declan McGinley Coilcheim, Danny Tim Rodgers Baile Ciarraí and Catherine Gallagher Mullachdubh matched 3 numbers. The jackpot on July 2th is €1340. If you’re not in, you can’t win!GAA TRAINING Peil na mBan will hold training session for U10s and U12s Girls on Thursdays from 5.30pm until 6.30pm. The training for U14 and U16 Minors and Ladies will be held between 6.30pm and 7.30pm also on Thursdays.THE OLD RAILWAY WALKThanks to all who supported the Annual Summers Evening Walk on the old railway line in Burtonport recently. The weather was perfect, the turnout fabulous and it was a very pleasurable evening. €300 was raised on the night with an additional €20 collected later. Thanks to all who took part.100 CLUB DRAWThe following people win prizes in the June draw recently. €500 Kathleen McGinley Calhame. €200 Seamus Boyle (Joe) Bunaman. €100 each Mary G. Doherty Chapel Gate Belcruit, Mark Bonner Rannyhual and Shaun Gallagher (M) Ranafast. €50 each Joe Devenney Colaiste na Rosann, Martin Mannion Ceann a’ Locha Anagaire, Diathí Mac Robaird Cnocastolaire, Declan McGinley Calhame, Anne Celine Boyle Loughanoran, Aiden Hughes Mullaghduff, Joe Glynn Annagry West and Gavin Campbell Ranafast. CAMPAÍ SAMHRAIDH 2014Beidh trí champa samhraidh a eagrú ag Club Óige Rann na Feirste i Mí Iúil i Áislann Rann na Feirste ón 7ú go dtí an 25ú ó 10r.n go 2i.n. Tá na campaí ag fáil tacaíocht ón Roinn Oidhreachta agus Gaeltachta agus Óige na Gaeltachta. 7ú go an 11ú Iuil: 4 bliana go 6 bliana, 14ú go an 18ú Iuil: 7 bliana go 12 bliana agus 21ú go an 25ú Iuil: 4 bliana go 7 bliana. Tá na táillí €40 do dhuine amhain agus €30 do gach duine eile as teaglach amhain. Le clarú cuir scairt ar Club Óige Rann na Feirste ag 086 4627475nó 0879158205.ENTERPRISE AWARDAt an awards ceremony held in the Kilmore Hotel in Cavan Minister John Perry announced the winners of the first ever ILDN Regional Enterprise Awards. The overall award went to local men John Paul and Kevin Boyle of uPilot based in their native Bunaman, Annagry. Neighbours John Paul and Kevin set up their business on the BTWEA Scheme, part funded by the LEADER Programme they developed a unique business using the latest cutting edge technology to design, manufacture and operate Flight Simulators. They are building a Boeing 737-800 series simulator at the moment and have recently been awarded a six month contract to operate a flight simulator in Dublin Airport, with future plans to locate a range of simulators in international airport lounges throughout Europe and the Middle East. Best wishes to Kevin and John Paul in their future endeavours. ROSSES RADIO CONCERTRosses Radio will be holding a concert evening of Irish Music along with Irish Dancers at The Stepping Stone Main Street Dungloe on Friday 4th July, doors open from 7.30pm and the entrance is €7 per person. As we know The Rosses is full to the brim of musical talent we have performances from Gearóidín Breathnach, fantastic young Trad Group Suantrai, Hughie Boyle, Kenneth Campbell, Pauline Glackin and Meenacross Comhaltas.A Church Gate Collection on behalf of Donegal Hospice will be taken up before weekend Masses in St Mary Star of the Sea Church Annagry this weekend.DD LOCAL: CHILDREN’S BOOK COURSE FOR ADULTS IN ANNAGRY was last modified: July 1st, 2014 by John2Share this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Tags:Jimmy Duffy’s Annagry Community Noteslast_img read more

A’s name Sean Manaea to start over Mike Fiers in wild-card game

first_imgSurgery to his throwing shoulder first derailed Manaea’s breakout 2018 season — replete with budding potential decorated by a no-hitter against the Boston … OAKLAND — At times, Sean Manaea wasn’t sure when he’d don green and gold again, how long he’d have to wait to take the mound again.But, this month, Manaea’s gone from a tentative rotation return to the team’s chosen starter with the A’s entire season and postseason on the line.Yes, Manaea will start Wednesday’s wild card game.last_img

Own-language schooling, for free

first_img17 June 2005South African education is to be given a major overhaul, with a number of reforms announced by Minister of Education Naledi Pandor during her parliamentary budget speech last month.Introducing the new Education Laws Amendment Bill, Pandor said these would include free schooling for the poor and the elevation of indigenous African languages to the same status as English and Afrikaans.Other reforms are the promotion of mathematical literacy and life skills, higher pay for teachers, more financial support for students and increased state control of school governing bodies.Free schooling for the poorChildren of parents who cannot afford to pay school fees will be given a lifeline. From 2006, the government will introduce no-fee schools in poorer areas and increase financial support to these schools.At some schools parents struggle to pay school fees of under R100 a year.“This will ensure that some of our poorest schools will be relieved of the burden of charging fees,” she said. “The education departments will provide them with adequate resources.“The marginalisation of poor learners in schools because of their parents’ inability to pay school fees will come to an end.”If passed into law, the Education Bill will give the minister the power to declare that an individual school’s governing body cannot charge school fees.South Africa’s Constitution guarantees its citizens the right to basic education, regardless of the availability of resources.There is a fee exemption system currently in place to help poorer parents, but it does not work properly, the minister said. Fee exemptions will continue to be provided in fee-based public schools.Promoting indigenous languages“The time has come to make the learning of an African indigenous language compulsory in all our schools,” Pandor said, announcing a new school curriculum for 2006.In terms of the curriculum, the Further Education and Training Certificate will replace the current senior certificate or matric. Two language subjects are compulsory for the certificate. One of these must be a language of learning and teaching.The curriculum will be introduced with detailed plans to ensure a smooth transition, Pandor said.It is designed to move indigenous languages in from the fringes, giving them equal status with English and Afrikaans.“We need to develop a language policy that vigorously promotes South African indigenous languages in all our schools.”South Africa has 11 official languages: English, Afrikaans, isiZulu, isiXhosa, isiNdebele, Sepedi, Sesotho, Setswana, siSwati, Tshivenda and Xitsonga.‘Foolhardy’ to neglect EnglishPandor rejected suggestions that English and Afrikaans were under threat.“This must not be read as an intention to neglect the relevance of acquiring competence in English,” Pandor said. “That would be a foolhardy objective.While competence in English was important, language could not be used as a “tool of exclusion”, the minister said. “Language in education cannot be seen solely as being about English or Afrikaans.“The government is not against any language in our country. All languages must be promoted and allowed to thrive.”IsiZulu is the home language of 23.8% of South Africans, followed by isiXhosa (17.6%), Afrikaans (13.3%) and Sepedi (9.4%). While English is the lingua franca of South Africa and much of the world, it is the mother tongue of only 8.2% of the country’s population.The National Professional Teachers’ Organisation of South Africa (Naptosa), which represents 200 000 of the country’s educators, came out in strong support of the proposed changes.“Naptosa is convinced the constitutional right of learners to be taught their home language must be protected,” the union said.Other compulsory subjects for the new certificate will be mathematics – or mathematical literacy – and life orientation, as well as three other approved subjects.The draft requirements for the certificate are based on internationally benchmarked requirements, the minister said. They will require intensive training of teachers, to prepare them to implement the new curriculum. Reforming governing bodiesThe South African Schools Act would be amended to give “a fresh, positive mandate” to governing bodies, Pandor said.These bodies currently have the power to set school admission policies, determine what language or languages will be used in school and set school fees.Pandor said most governing bodies had done well, but there were some that had not cooperated with the government’s intentions to transform and ensure access to education.The proposed changes will oblige governing bodies to nominate three people to fill vacant posts, instead of the current requirement for one.“Instead of giving us one name which they prefer, the school governing body will now give us three names and we will appoint one of those persons,” said education director-general Duncan Hindle.He said the changes would give the department a wider choice in implementing government’s employment equity legislation.Alf Maseko, the president of the National Association of School Governing Bodies, said the move emphasised that no school was above the department’s policies.The amendments would not curb the powers of school governing bodies, he said, but would ensure they “act in a professional and ethical manner”.Naptosa also supported the move, saying the current system, in which school governing bodies appoint teachers independently of the government, was open to abuse and fostered favouritism. More money for teachers and studentsIn her budget, Pandor announced a R6.9-billion boost to teachers’ pay. Of this, R4.2-billion will be used for expanding pay progression, for performance rewards and for targeted incentives.“Teachers are at the heart of quality education,” the minister said.Pandor also announced a 50% increase over 2004 in financial support for students. The National Student Financial Aid Scheme is to receive R864-million for 2005/2006 and R927-million in 2006/7, rising to R1.1-billion for 2007/8. This is in addition to donor funds and money for student loans.She also outlined an ambitious plan to recapitalise further education and training (FET).Some R1-billion will be invested in FET public colleges in the financial years 2006/7 and 2007/8. The aim of the recapitalisation is to increase the number of students enrolled in high-quality vocational programmes.A ministerial committee will also be set up to investigate mass literacy teaching. The minister will also finalise funding norms and standards for funding adult learning centres.SouthAfrica.info reporter Want to use this article in your publication or on your website?See: Using SAinfo materiallast_img read more

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