Posts Tagged ‘Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf’

Liberia: Obama lobt Sirleafs Heldentum

Freitag, Mai 28th, 2010

“Liberia: Obama Praises Sirleaf’s Heroism – Pledges More US Cooperation, Aid

US President Barack Obama said at the White House yesterday that Liberia has overcome most its difficulties due to the heroism of President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, media reports from Washington D.C. said.

He said the Liberian President’s commitment to democracy was a legacy that other African leaders ought to adopt in order to put their countries on the map of unfolding democracy on the African Continent. .

The US President made the observations and commendations when he met President Sirleaf in the Oval Office. He then pledged the United States’ support to Liberia in every step of the way of its democratic development.

‘I have been an extraordinary admirer of her work for many years now…. The United States and Liberia are close friends, longstanding partners, and Liberia is now emerging from a very difficult period,’ the US President said.

He credited Liberia’s emergence from the difficult period in a relative short period of time to the Liberian leader’s commitment to the rule of law exemplified by strides made in reforming the judiciary.

‘In all these endeavors I want to make sure the people of Liberia understand… that the United States is a constant friend and partner,’ President Obama said.

He said President Sirleaf’s example should be taken as inspiration to other African nations including, Guinea, Ivory Coast and Niger.

President Sirleaf welcomed the US leader’s commendation on behalf of the Liberian people and noted that what President Obama has observed about Liberia would not have been possible without the cooperation and assistance of the United States.

She said she was she was proud to have met President Obama and exchanged ideas with him on the progress made in Liberia as well as bilateral relations between the two countries.

She thanked the US government and people for continuing to play to come 14,000 Liberia currently living in the US on Temporary Protective Status or TPS and the Obama administration for a recent action taken to extend the delayed enforced departure for another year.

Incidentally, in the 1990s, United States extended ‘temporary protection status’ to all Liberians who could get to America, and 14,000 of them took advantage of that humanitarian offer. Temporary protection status is an immigration status somewhere between political asylum and refugee status. Administered by the Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services, it is extended to nationals of countries facing civil unrest or natural disaster.

During their conversation, President Obama assured the Liberian leader of the US commitment to work with Liberia in the area of food security, especially through the Feed the Future program under course at the Ministry of Agriculture.

Mr. Obama also emphasized that the US will continue to work with Liberia in the areas of security, education, health, and counter-terrorism, to combat drug trafficking in a strong partnership.

The President said she looks forward to the continuing support of the US and said there are still many challenges facing her country. She particularly pointed out that she wants to count on the support of the US and other allies at the June 26 meeting of the IMF and World Bank when the issue of the debt relief for Liberia comes up.

President Sirleaf also briefed Mr. Obama on the work she and other African leaders are currently doing to ensure that the democratic process stays on course.

In Liberia itself, President Sirleaf noted that the next elections in 2011 would be a defining moment for the consolidation of peace and democracy. She said she looks forward to the assistance of US and other friends of Liberia in helping to start the process right now.

In the area of security, President Sirleaf thanked the US for their support in the various areas of the security sector reform. She said that now that UNMIL is drawing down, it was important that the police reach its full capacity.

She thanked the US AFRICOM for the work they are currently doing in Liberia.

The President said that strengthening the judiciary is a major goal of her Administration.

In closing the meeting, President Obama said that President Sirleaf has a very good sense where Liberia was headed.

Africa’s first elected female head of state, Sirleaf said that she would not hide the fact that Liberia had challenges, but added that all basic freedoms were alive in her country today.

‘We said that we were going to make Liberia rise again. I come today on behalf of the Liberian people to say that we have made a lot of progress,’ she said.

‘We have been able to maintain peace for seven years now.’

Earlier Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met Sirleaf to discuss elections next year in the West African country and various other issues, a statement said.

Clinton said after their talks that Washington is a partner with Monrovia ‘in the promotion of democracy, the establishment of good governance, and development of a responsible security sector in Liberia.’

The chief US diplomat said she sought to assure Sirleaf ‘of our continued support and engagement as Liberia progresses towards full economic and political recovery’ after successive civil wars.

‘In this regard, we discussed Liberia’s preparations for national elections in 2011, progress on judicial and police reforms, and efforts to fight against official corruption,’ Clinton said.”

(Quelle: allAfrica.com.)

Liberia: Schulbildung bleibt für die meisten Frauen weiterhin nur ein Traum

Donnerstag, Mai 27th, 2010

“Universal Education an Empty Promise for Liberia’s Girls

By Bonnie Allen

MONROVIA, May 26, 2010 (IPS) – In a small office tucked behind the stairwell in Liberia’s Ministry of Education, the once-proud staff of the Girls’ Education Unit appear defeated.

The workers in this fourth floor office, entrusted with charting a new course for the education of the country’s girls and women, have no salaries, no budget, and few projects under way.

“We attend meetings. We attend workshops. But when we put a project proposal together, it is not supported,” sighs the Unit’s director, Lorpu G. Mannah.

Despite the 2006 election of Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, Africa’s first female president, and the introduction of free and compulsory primary education, many young girls in this post-conflict West African nation continue to drop out of school to cook and clean for their family, or earn a meagre living selling food or fresh water on the streets.

They face discrimination, sexual violence, family pressures, early pregnancy, forced marriage, and harmful traditional practices. Three out of five Liberian women can’t read.

Promises

When Johnson-Sirleaf came to power four years ago, the Harvard-trained economist inspired dreams of a better future for the country’s women. With much fanfare, she launched a National Policy on Girls’ Education in April 2006, and hailed girls’ education as the “cornerstone” of development in Liberia. The Girls’ Education Unit was opened shortly after to implement the policy.

Beyond universal primary education and rebuilding destroyed schools, the national policy promises to cut girls’ secondary school fees in half, train more female teachers, punish teachers who sexually exploit students, and provide counseling.

Other measures aimed directly at the retention of girls include providing health services to girls in school to boost self-esteem, paying out small scholarships for their tuition, uniform, and copybooks, and conducting a nationwide awareness campaign for parents.

It also stipulates that “a separate budget line should be established in the education budget specifically for this purpose…”

Four years later, the Ministry of Education (MOE) has still not earmarked a budget to implement the policy.

Reality

Liberian families continue to struggle with rising secondary school fees. Only one out of 10 grade school teachers are women. Counseling, life skills and health services are almost non-existent. Girls are forced to trade sex for grades with teachers, or barter sex on the streets for financial support.

Statistically, the gender gap in Liberia’s elementary schools has narrowed. The most recent school census revealed that girls accounted for 47 percent of students registered at Liberia’s public primary schools, but only 31 percent at public high schools in 2007-2008.

Mannah credits free tuition, feeding programs by the World Food Program, and piecemeal scholarships by international donors for uniforms and writing materials.

Those numbers are misleading though. The census only measures enrolment at the beginning of the school year and does not consider the high drop out among girls several months later due to family obligations, teenage pregnancy, or poverty.

UNICEF maintains that statistics reveal lower enrolment and retention of girls after Grade Three. UNICEF Education Specialist, John Sumo, blames the Liberian Government for abandoning its girls’ education policy.

“As far as we know, there has not been any commitment from the Ministry to Education to see what can be done in the implementation of the national policy,” said Sumo.

This prompted UNICEF to stop financing girls’ education projects through the Liberian Government in January 2009, instead choosing to funnel money to international NGOs. UNICEF also decided to revoke its funding of the Girls’ Education Unit’s salaries and operational costs as of January 2010.

“We have a work plan but it has not been sponsored by donors or government,” insists Mannah, who confesses deep frustration that the education ministry is ignoring the Girls’ Unit.

“You born a child, you need to nurture the child. But if you born a child and you don’t do nothing, the child is starving.”

New minister, new dawn?

There has been little accountability for the past four years at the Education Ministry. The Minister during that time, Joseph Korto, was removed from his post in May 2010, shortly after he was named in an audit for alleged misappropriation of huge sums of money.

Audits to track development loans and aid, as part of the requirements for debt forgiveness, revealed dubious scholarship schemes and false claims for new schools that were abandoned or left incomplete.

At his swearing-in ceremony, the new education minister, Othello Gongar, stated, “I have not come to MOE to criticise the works of my predecessors, but to rather start from where they stopped in order to make the system viable.”

Gongar pledged to lobby the national legislature to increase Education’s overall budget from roughly 8 percent to 25 percent of the $347 million dollar national budget.

In the budgetary cash contest, Liberian girls and women are competing with war-destroyed roads, electricity grid, limited running water and sewage systems, a dysfunctional justice system, and other institutional and infrastructural problems.

“What about the human resource?” demands Miatta Fahnbulleh, a leading advocate for girls’ education in Liberia. “Yes, I want roads. Yes, I want 24-hour electricity. But I also want to live in a country where 9 out of 10 people aren’t ignorant… We need to develop minds,” she emphasises, pointing her finger to her temple.

Back at the Ministry of Education, Lorpu Mannah shows up each morning at the Girls’ Education Unit. Though she’s no longer paid, she still writes proposals to international NGOs requesting money to sponsor night schools for teenage mothers, counseling centres in high schools, or scholarships for women who want to become teachers.

“To be frank, I do it out of sympathy for the young girls.”

(Quelle: IPS News.)