NTAL’s Response to Min. Werner Comments on “Partnership Schools…

first_imgHis Excellency Honorable Education Minister George K. Werner in his “Partnership Schools for Liberia: Building a Better Future for our Children” attempts to make the case that outsourcing the education system of Liberia to private actors will produce better outcomes for especially the poorest children. Liberia’s plan is to outsource all primary and pre-primary schools over the next five years. It is a deeply unsettling policy that Minister Werner proposes. Outsourcing education would have consequences for future generations of children, parents, educators and society as a whole. Therefore, it is imperative and a matter of public accountability to be mindful of the potential effects of such a policy and examine the evidence from elsewhere. Minister Werner asserts that the new policy, to be launched in September this year, aims to bring lessons to Liberia from South Africa, Kenya, the US and UK.Unfortunately, Minister Werner has got it wrong. It is unclear what Liberia could be learning from those lessons, except how not to design a policy with the objective of providing quality education for all students. The recent critique from Kishore Singh, United Nations Special Rapporteur on the right to education, is completely justified. Abandoning one of the core functions of the state to the commercial benefit of a private company violates Liberia’s legal and moral obligations, including international obligations under the right to education and the fourth UN Sustainable Development Goal. Everyone is entitled to his or her own opinion; however, everyone is not entitled to his or her own facts. The facts are that there is no evidence whatsoever from anywhere in the world to support the claim that outsourcing education would be in the interests of our children. Indeed the poorest children would be worse off. Minister Werner writes that the first inspiration for the policy came from New Orleans, in Louisiana, USA, and the non-government charter school system installed in the wake of Hurricane Katrina in 2005. In particular, the Minister argues that the poorest children have benefited most. However, the facts about the New Orleans experiment are quite clear. It failed.Research by the renowned Stanford Center for Opportunity Policy in Education found thatunder the charter model, the organization of schools in New Orleans is highly stratified. Schools sort students by race, income, and special education status, with the most advantaged students at the top tiers and the least advantaged at the bottom tiers. This takeover of the system without public dialogue or consent, combined with the resulting high levels of stratification currently in place, illustrate that turning a school system over to non-governmental or private actors has not, in the case of New Orleans, helped students.Furthermore, the experience from Sweden, one of the global reference countries for private sector involvement, also offers several lessons for the Liberian government about what not to do. As part of a decentralization overhaul of the education system, school provision in privately run for-profit “free schools” was introduced in 1992. In recent years, the effects of that policy have become clear with increased educational inequality, variation of academic performance, social and cultural segregation. It took several scandals, including the collapse of a prominent provider, related to the short-term time horizon of private education suppliers, (many of which are owned by private equity firms), and a slide in PISA results, before Swedish government realized that it had no choice but to reverse its course and abolish the profit motive.So, why is it that the purveyors of these types of governance reforms advocate a losing formula? Kishore Singh, the UN Special Rapporteur points out that it is ironic that Liberia does not have resources to meet its core obligations to provide a free education to every child, but the government can find huge sums of money to subcontract private actors to do so on its behalf.Minister Werner concludes his argument for outsourcing education by stating that “To not act would be an injustice.” The truth is that Liberia faces vast challenges in provision of quality education for all. However, to put into action a programme of outsourcing of education in Liberia is likely to prove an act of injustice that will haunt the country for decades. Andrea Gabor of the New York Times reviewed all the research and evaluations of the schools around Katrina and concluded that “For outsiders, the biggest lesson of New Orleans is this: It is wiser to invest in improving existing education systems than to start from scratch.”Liberia needs to strengthen their education system, build capacity and invest in the professional capital of the people who will lead Liberia into a better, wiser and more prosperous future. Now, that’s a fact I think we all can agree with.We call upon the Government of Liberia to suspend any further action and commit to a national consultative process so that every citizen can contribute towards the development and implementation of sound policy aimed at improving educational opportunity and outcomes for all children.Samuel Y. Johnson, Sr.Secretary General-NTALShare this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

Round-up: Begovic signs, QPR duo dismiss speculation, R’s youngsters score 15

first_imgQPR defenders Steven Caulker and Nedum Onuoha have told West London Sport there has so far been no serious interest shown in them by Premier League clubs.A number of clubs are reported to have made approaches for Caulker and there was speculation after the end of last season that Onuoha could be snapped up by a top-flight side.But both players have insisted there has been no sign of any bids for them.Onuoha has been installed as Rangers captain, with club captain Clint Hill, who turns 37 in October, not expected to be a first-team regular during the coming season.QPR’s Under-21 side began their pre-season campaign in Italy with a 15-0 win and recent signing Tyler Blackwood scored five of the goals, including a hat-trick in 23 minutes.The second match of the senior side’s visit to Italy will go ahead on Tuesday, against Monaco, albeit after another change of venue.In terms of transfer gossip, there continues to be speculation over the futures of R’s duo Charlie Austin and Matty Phillips.Meanwhile, Chelsea have completed the signing of goalkeeper Asmir Begovic from Stoke City.Blues fans on Twitter have been reacting to the news, with many delighted that the Bosnia international has been brought in.In cricket, persistent rain meant the third day between Middlesex and Somerset at Merchant Taylor’s School was abandoned without a ball being bowled.Middlesex wicket-keeper John Simpson has signed a new two-year contract with the club.And Ickenham-based Jordanne Whiley has been celebrating her second successive Wimbledon triumph after she and Yui Kamiji won the wheelchair doubles.Follow West London Sport on TwitterFind us on Facebooklast_img read more

Where sports consultant says A’s will build their ballpark

first_imgBaseball’s most amazing story this season is playing out in the most reviled stadium in Major League Baseball, located at the 66th Avenue exit on Interstate 880 in Oakland.The A’s and their emerging young stars have opened eyes from coast to coast. Led by baseball’s most underrated manager, Bob Melvin, this team is rooted in resilience, with toughness, fearlessness and the grit that defines Oakland.The A’s have told their fans that Howard Terminal or the Coliseum will be selected as the site …last_img read more

Dr Ncumisa Jilata: Africa’s youngest neurosurgeon

first_imgAt the age of 29, Mthatha-born Dr Ncumisa Jilata has become Africa’s youngest neurosurgeon following her Fellowship graduation in Durban on 18 May 2017. Her milestone achievement was highlighted by Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa in an address to the National Assembly on 31 May.South African neurosurgeon Dr Ncumisa Jilata (left) with Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa. Ramaphosa made special mention of Jilata becoming Africa’s youngest neurosurgeon in an address to Parliament on 31 May 2017. (Image: Ncumisa Jilata Facebook)CD AndersonDr Ncumisa Jilata completed her Bachelor of Medicine Bachelor of Surgery (MBChB) degree at Mthatha’s Walter Sisulu University (WSU) in 2009. Her completed fellowship for the Council of Neurosurgeons of South Africa in 2017 means she is now the youngest neurosurgeon in Africa, and one of only five black female brain surgeons in South Africa.Jilata joins 150 other female doctors and medical residents working in the neurosurgical field across Africa, according to the most recent survey by the World Federation of Neurological Societies.She hopes that her landmark achievement will inspire more female medical students to add to much-needed surgical expertise on the continent. Jilata was inspired while still in high school to follow her dream of becoming a brain surgeon.“I was already in Grade 11 [at Mthatha High School] when I decided I wanted to be a doctor, but at the time I wasn’t doing biology, so when I got to matric I had to do three years of biology in one year, in addition to the subjects I had already selected from Grade 10,” Jilata told the Eastern Cape Daily Dispatch newspaper following her graduation.“During that period I discovered the concept of a neuron, which is amazing. The fact that society as a whole was influenced and controlled solely by the existence of this structure, intrigued me… that’s when I knew I wanted to be a neurosurgeon.”She had to work hard to prove herself in the male-dominated field of medicine, Jilata said. “It was common to be second-guessed as a woman, but one’s work ethic will always speak volumes.” She hopes to become a worthy standard for young girls, to give them the courage to “break through the barriers of patriarchy” in medical science.Another pioneering female and Eastern Cape-born neurosurgeon, Dr Coceka Mfundisi, inspired Jilata. “[My mentor] Dr Mfundisi… broke most of the barriers for me [to get where I am today].”Born in rural Engcobo, Mfundisi was one of the first black South African woman to qualify in the neurology field.“[Jilata] had heard about me because I had worked in Mthatha for about a year while I was still training as a neurosurgeon at the University of Pretoria,” Mfundisi told the Daily Dispatch. “I was the only woman among men and when she told me she wanted to be a neurosurgeon I could already see her working with me at the University of Pretoria, where she later joined me… [Her] success is a proud moment for the impoverished community of the Eastern Cape and a victory for every woman, especially because she did everything in record time, at a very young age.”WSU spokesperson Yonela Tukwayo said the university was proud of Jilata’s accomplishment. “She and many other WSU alumni, who are leaders across different fields of medicine and other professions, represent the true spirit of our university namesake, Walter Sisulu.”During his address at the Presidency Budget Vote in Parliament’s National Assembly on 31 May 2017, Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa made special mention of Jilata’s achievement. Including her story in an overview of several South African women breaking barriers in a number of social development and medical fields, Ramaphosa thanked Jilata “for inspiring us, motivating us and challenging us with your [life] and your determination… demonstrating what is possible with perseverance, courage, collaboration and partnership”.Source: Daily Dispatch, South African Government website Would you like to use this article in your publication or on your website? See Using Brand South Africa material.last_img read more

OpenGovernment: Government Data with a Social Media Twist

first_imgThe idea of “open government” got a boost last week with the launch of OpenGovernment.org, a joint project of the Sunlight Foundation and the Participatory Politics Foundation. Similar to sibling project OpenCongress, which launched in 2008, OpenGovernment makes it simple for the average citizen to see inside the workings of their local and state governments.Curious what bills are in the pipeline? Or what money is being spent where? OpenGovernment lays it all out in a clear and concise format that could help to create a more informed and participatory citizenry. Not only does OpenGovernment make it all accessible, it makes it interactive too.OpenGovernment itself is an embodiment of the principles it hopes to expound: it is completely free to use and open-source. With the beta launch, it will be opening up the local, city and state level governments to citizens’ eyes in California, Louisiana, Maryland, Texas and Wisconsin. According to the launch announcement, the project will pull together “official announcements, news coverage, blog posts, social media alerts and more to give a truly illustrative picture of local government.” Beyond third-party content like blog posts, the site also links directly to the full text of bills, legislators’ voting records and spending data culled from FollowTheMoney.org. OpenGovernment doesn’t simply make it easy to access and understand government data, it makes it easy for users to interact around it. Users can gather around an individual bill and discuss the bill in comments. The site even offers RSS feeds for individual bills, so you can keep up with when actions are taken regarding that particular item. Click for full image.The announcement notes that “This is indeed a beta version of the site, so keep in mind that we expect there to be a few kinks, and much more data & features are forthcoming.” So far, so good, we have to say.If you’re one who likes to keep informed on matters of the public interest, definitely consider giving OpenGovernment a perusal. Tags:#Government#news#web A Web Developer’s New Best Friend is the AI Wai… mike melanson Related Posts center_img Top Reasons to Go With Managed WordPress Hosting Why Tech Companies Need Simpler Terms of Servic… 8 Best WordPress Hosting Solutions on the Marketlast_img read more

Do We Really Need 12 Inches of Foam Under Our Slab?

first_img[Editor’s note: Roger and Lynn Normand are building a [no-glossary]Passivhaus[/no-glossary] in Maine. This is the 21st article in a series that will follow their project from planning through construction.] After kicking the tires on the Passive House Planning Package (PHPP) results obtained by the Passive House Academy (PHA) on EdgewaterHaus, we have decided to make one design change that, if acceptable to PHA, will save us money and still allow us to comfortably meet the annual heat demand limit set by PHPP.In a northern climate like Maine, the challenge in meeting the Passivhaus standard lies in achieving the exceptionally low annual heat demand (AHD) of 4.75 kBTU/(ft2•yr). As my previous blog noted, EdgewaterHaus design had an annual heat demand of 3.97 kBTU/(ft2•yr) and earned a Passive House Design Stage Assurance. BLOGS BY ROGER NORMAND Seeing Red on a Green Property Appraisal — Part 1Seeing Red on a Green Property Appraisal — Part 2Seeing Red on a Green Property Appraisal — Part 3Can We Get More and Pay Less To Keep About The Same?Backup Electrical Power for a Passivhaus Project?Passive House Certification: Looking Under the Hood Can Foam Insulation Be Too Thick?GBA Encyclopedia: Rigid Foam Insulation Oops! The EPS foam has already been orderedAnd then a complication. Four-inch-thick EPS foam is not a commonly stocked item. To prepare for the start of construction, our builder Caleb Johnson Architects had already ordered the material and its delivery was imminent; according to the supplier, it was too late to modify the order. They would not accept a return. We owned the EPS.How disappointing: after over 1 1/2 years in the design phase of our project, we still could not make all the necessary material decisions in time!Perhaps we could use the 4-inch-thick EPS to substitute for some of the Roxul. From a thermal perspective, that would work. Marc cautioned us to keep the EPS well below grade, because it tends to harbor ants. (Our EPS destined for use well below grade is not treated with an insecticide.) Maybe we can install thinner foamThe first place to look at reducing the cost of the building envelope was the 12 inches of EPS foam insulation below the basement slab, or perhaps some of the Roxul Drainboard insulation outside of the ICF foundation. Both are more expensive than the cellulose insulation used to fill the above-grade wall cavities and blown into the attic, and provide less real insulating benefit. RELATED ARTICLES The Roxul and EPS are installed below grade, where the soil moderates temperature extremes, and wind is not an added burden. Because both are installed as the outermost layer of the building envelope, either could be reduced without significantly affecting the design of the house. And since heat rises and cold falls, common sense suggests that any reduction in insulation happen below ground.The 12 inches of EPS foam was to be installed in 3 layers of 4-inch-thick foam, with taped seams. The foam comes in 4 foot by 8 foot sheets. The EPS costs about $60 per sheet plus tax, tape, and labor. There are some 70 sheets per layer.Our energy analyst Marc Rosenbaum calculated that going from 12 inches of EPS foam down to 8 inches would raise our AHD from 3.97 to 4.35 kBTU/(ft2•yr), still comfortably below the 4.75 kBTU/(ft2•yr) ceiling.So, let’s eliminate one of the three layers of EPS. If you want that type of Roxul, you have to buy a palletAnother complication: the planned 2 3/8-inch-thick Roxul Drainboard is also not commonly stocked, and unlike the 1-inch-thick version, only comes in pallet-sized quantities. We would also have to match exterior material thicknesses.Then our architect Chris Briley learned that we may be able to purchase some surplus 2 3/8 inch Roxul retained by another nearby contractor — price to be determined. Chris has drafted a revised drawing showing the reduced amount of Roxul, the EPS topped with flashing to prevent water from the above drainboard to flow between the EPS and the ICF, and the change to only 8 inches of EPS beneath the slab.Before we implement this design change, Chris has submitted the revised drawing to PHA. We want PHA to confirm that we still meet the Passivhaus annual heat demand limit, and still retain the Passive House Design Stage Assurance. We expect a quick response from PHA, as excavation is imminent. The first article in this series was Kicking the Tires on a Passivhaus Project. Roger Normand’s construction blog is called EdgewaterHaus.last_img read more