Indigenous students at the Mahaicony dormitory in Region Five (Mahaica-Berbice) can now focus on their upcoming examinations, as the problems associated with the lack of adequate food has been alleviated. Guyana Times was informed that on Monday, food supplies such as chicken, eggs, sausages and vegetables were transported to the facility which houses 20 students; all from the Indigenous community of Moraikabi, located some 10km up the Mahaicony River.The publication understands that “officials” promised that these supplies will be delivered on a weekly basis. This publication was further informed that these officials are expected to visit the facility some time soon.The students who are currently residing at the facility range in age from 12-16 and currently attend Mahaicony, Hope, Belladrum, Novar and Bygeval Secondary Schools. Four of the 20 are in preparations for their CXC examinations.Two weeks ago, 25 pounds of fish, one bag of potatoes and a quantity of sausages were supplied to the dormitory. On Saturday night, all that remained however was some of the potatoes, which was insufficient to feed the 22 residents, inclusive of the two guardians.Guyana Times had reported on Sunday that even though the current batch of students moved into the facilities in October, there were deteriorating conditions at the premises which needed to be addressed. It was revealed that one side of the compound’s fence was damaged and repairs were also needed to the piping system.Information reaching this newspaper indicated that officials from the region and the Education Ministry visited the facility over three weeks ago and promised that the many concerns raised would be addressed.
By Shemuel FanfairAryan Singh of Dharmic Rama Krishna Primary School, a lad who shared the nation’s top position at the recently announced National Grade Six Assessment (NGSA), said he intended to continue in the same vein to achieve outstanding results.In an interview with Guyana Times on Tuesday, the young man revealed that he would utilise a similar approach to maintain a high level of performance when he entered secondary school in the new school term.Top student Aryan Singh“I plan to do the same thing I’ve been doing – normal revision. I don’t intend to do anything special because if you do that, you get nervous,” he posited.He recalled that upon writing his exams, he was nervous but he was able to overcome his fears and end up being successful.When the results were announced on July 5, Singh had secured a total score of 568 marks, earning him a place at Queen’s College. The young man related that he was especially satisfied to know that he attained the highest marks in Mathematics and Social Studies.When asked about his feelings on being a top achiever, Singh observed that he was at first astonished.“It feels amazing, electrifying; I was extremely shocked at first, but when it got into my mind, I was overjoyed…my mom was shocked but was calm – I was crying,” the lad explained.He pointed out that it was his teacher, Padminie Geewan who helped to motivate him for the NGSA.“She really did push the whole class to their potential,” the young man said.He further related that any student with the right approach and effort can achieve success at their exams: “I would encourage them that anybody can be at the top, once you do your work and revise and don’t over pressure yourself.”Singh’s mother, Prithi Singh told this publication that she, his father, sister and grandmother all feel proud of his achievement.“Everybody in the family is extremely happy. He was a very disciplined and focused child, and he was also taking part in karate and is taking part in several international tournaments. We didn’t have many problems with him – only the games,” she expressed.She also related that her son was encouraged to study an hour before bed every evening.The National Grade Six Assessment, which was written on April 27 and 28 earlier this year, saw 14,386 candidates participating.
Return of Kara Kara toll boothVehicles carrying commercial goods attached to businesses registered in Linden, Region 10 (Upper Demerara-Berbice) may have to pay an agreed biennial cost to the municipality of the Linden Mayor and Town Council (LM&TC) when the Kara Kara toll booth at Mackenzie becomes operational again. This was discussed during deliberations at an extraordinary meeting of the Council which was recently held.The extraordinary meeting that was recently heldWhile a cost has not yet been set, a majority of Councillors at the meeting voted in favour of the decision to have the necessary vehicles, such as those carrying lumber, pay twice a year at a reduced cost.Linden Mayor Carwyn Holland indicated that a cost is expected to be arrived at following consultations with the Linden Chamber of Industry Commerce and Development (LCICD) and businesses within the community. Some categories of vehicles subjected to toll are timber trucks, haulers with machinery, trailers with logs and vehicles with goods for sale, among others.Another aspect which was discussed by the Council recently was the penalties for assaulting a toll collector which carries a $10,000 fine or an alternative of three months in prison.The Kara Kara toll booth had been the centre of controversy in the past due to the Council’s by-laws which were govern it, not being in force. A move to have it up and running again by the previous Council, after years, resulted in its abrupt closure by the previous Government in 2013. However, recently, the present Council succeeded in having the toll booth gazetted, with a claims and objections period being put in place for citizens.Just last week, the Mayor sought to clear up some misconceptions being peddled around the community, where some residents were reportedly of the belief that all vehicles traversing the route would be subjected to pay tolls. He noted that businesses which are coming from out of town would be subjected to the toll, while stating that it creates for a level playing field. Holland said however that there’s no cost for private vehicles and taxis.He added that there has been some changes, however, as it relates to costs as he outlined that the previous costs were age old. This, he said, had been discussed during a meeting with the LCICD and was agreed to by the parties involved.
La Penitence choppingThe man who brutally chopped his estranged wife at the La Penitence Market, Iswhar Heralall, 38, of Anna Regina New Housing Scheme, Essequibo, appeared at the Georgetown Magistrates’ Courts before Magistrate Judy Latchman and was placed on $600,000 bail.Iswhar Heralall (in yellow)It is alleged that Heralall on Sunday, July 31, 2016, at La Penitence Public Road, Ruimveldt, unlawfully and maliciously wounded Wanita Heralall with the intent to commit murder.The prosecution did not provide any circumstantial evidence; however, a relative of the defendant disclosed to this publication that the man’s wife left him with their five children for another man and on the day in question he was asking her to return home and she embarrassed him claiming she wanted her freedom.The unrepresented man’s mother told the court that she could not afford an attorney for the defendant.Heralall was placed on bail with the following stipulations: he presents himself every Friday to the officer in charge at the Criminal Investigation Department, Ruimveldt Police Station and he stays away from the Virtual Complainant (VC) pending the outcome of the matter.The carpenter by profession will make his next court appearance on August 24, 2016.Meanwhile, the VC, who spoke to this publication, related that she was recovering comfortably at the Georgetown Public Hospital.At approximately 10:30h on Sunday, July 31, the woman ran into her estranged husband who she was reportedly in the process of divorcing after years of abuse, after she left her Lot 8 Laing Avenue, Georgetown home to commence her usual market shopping.Wanita Heralall told Guyana Times earlier this week that her youngest child was in the company of his father and he asked the child if he wanted to speak to her and the child indicated that he did not.“He ask the lil boy if he wan talk to me and the lil bai shake his head ‘no’. So I turn and seh if the lil bai don’t wanna talk to me, I don’t wanna talk to him or his father, because I don’t want no problem,” she said.Her estranged husband subsequently left, but returned as she was approaching the bicycle she rode to the market, and grabbed her left hand.“I turn around fuh walk to get my bicycle and leave because I know how he stay. So by time I coulda reach my bicycle, he come from behind me and he grab this hand and stretch it out and seh ‘come here, I wan talk to you’. I said ‘no’. And as I said no, he start chopping,” she recapped.According to Heralall, the accused then swung one chop at her head, bashing her over the right eye. The man then shouted, “don’t scream!” and forcefully pinned her hand before repeatedly hacking at her arm between the elbow and wrist.With the woman’s arm almost severed, the Essequibian allegedly told her to “take your hand and move from here”.In a bid to escape, the man then tried running through the crowd, only to be captured and dealt a thorough beating before being turned over to the Ruimveldt Police Station.
In one of the classes I teach at a local university, I asked my students to explain the role of the Ministry of Post and Telecommunications or MoPT in Liberia. Out of 23 students, only ONE student was able to provide a response substantial enough to be considered the answer. Her response was: “In addition to handling postal activities of Liberia, the Ministry of Post and Telecommunications is the policy maker of the ICT sector. ICT here is an umbrella word for telecommunications, radio and TV broadcasting, etc.” The rest of the class responded with an “I don’t know” or that the Ministry is merely the “Post Office” of Liberia.I find it very interesting how many Liberians between the ages of 18 to 45 do not know the role of the Ministry of Post and Telecommunications or many of the other ministries. Obviously, this is because people of this generation rarely use the post office; they email, Skype, or just do everything on Facebook. And it seems that many believe that the MoPT has been attenuated since the creation of the Liberia Telecommunication Authority. So, if that’s the case, why does this ministry exist? Why can’t it be changed to the Ministry of Science, Technology and Industry as I suggested in one of my previous articles? The answer to these questions will be left for another article. Today, I have decided to take an evenhanded approach to bringing light, in a more telling manner, to the “UNNOTICED” progress that has been made by a government institution.I remember returning to Liberia a few years ago and seeing a Ministry as a refugee camp where dirt was thrown from upper level floors to the middle of the complex below. Today, the building is revamped, postal services have been rekindled, and mail boxes can be retrieved or bought, to name a few. But, there are few other things that one must give the administration and its staff additional credit for. Firstly, the Ministry’s Expedited Mail Services (EMS) now effectively delivers mail in FIVE working days and packages in EIGHT working days.Secondly, the ministry’s regular mailing services work but I take the liberty to surmise that the plurality of mail being handled tend to be particularly international. Thirdly, within the premises of the Ministry you will also find, Western Union, Money Gram and an IB Bank depot, an added convenience and new experience for the customer. Most noticeable is the professional attitude of the staff; something you don’t find at other government agencies. In fact, the Ministry has a customer service desk to accommodate the needs of customers.The Ministry should be credited for developing the country’s ICT policy giving us a roadmap and guide to achieving a modern ICT sector for national development. But reigning paradigms do need to be adjusted to reflect the changes of time, hence, the ICT policy may need to be updated soon. For example, the IT world now speaks of Cloud Computing, Open Source Software, Green Computing, Quantum Computing etc. What is our policy on these technologies? The corollary of failing to adjust to the changes of time is that economic, social, cultural, and political life suddenly becomes even more challenging. Our ICT sector needs to make with sufficient rapidity the sweeping, transformative choices it demands– a modern approach unshackled from the inconveniences of politics and corruption, the “metastasis” which plagues every nadir of our society and threatens development. We need policies that will transmogrify our ICT sector making it a more viable one.In a country like Liberia encumbered by the lack of infrastructure, illiteracy, and several other challenges, demand for new capabilities and services is often best met by utilizing generation-leaping technologies (for example the development of open source software), a phenomenon that is helping to drive a large global craving for landmark technological innovation. I am not proposing a re-conceptualization of the current paradigms. And I am in no way attempting to co-opt the verve and urgency for a new ICT paradigm but rather my aim is only to create awareness in this realm. In recent times, the Ministry in collaboration with the Civil Service Agency (CSA) of Liberia created the Chief Information Officer, Republic of Liberia (CIO) “regime”. Subsequently, the Ministry put up and advertisement for the CIO position at various government institutions. Personally, I had hoped to see COUNTY CIOs instead of CIOs of government institutions, since those institutions already have IT Director positions. A County CIO with mandate to champion ICT in his/her county would at the very least kindle a national approach to ICT integration in Liberia, I would assume.Another development at the Ministry is the setting up of a Project Management Office within its premises. I understand this is done in collaboration with LTA via a WARCIP project being funded by the World Bank. I cannot give you details on this since I stopped following its developments for some time. But it is my hope that this initiative is successful.While we acknowledge the achievements and progress being made at the MoPT, I personally still maintain, as I wrote in a previous article that this ministry should be changed to a Ministry of Science, Technology and Industry. Such a ministry will enable Liberians to become PROSUMERS and not just consumers. PROSUMERs are those who produce and consume what they produce. This approach could ignite a viable manufacturing industry and provide jobs for our youthful population and those who our educational system has failed.This can be done without any significant personnel changes as the current minister, I have been told, has vast experience in industry and people familiar with his services to government have informed me that he made significant strides with regard to industry when he once served at the Ministry of Commerce.Also, I strongly believe that an agency that champions ICT should be instituted where an “empowered” CIO becomes the head and bring some sanity to ICT in government in Liberia. A courier service that competes with the likes of DHL and FedEx could also be set up to handle “postal affairs”. And this “courier service” would embark upon 21st century approaches to delivering mail. That is creating a “digital post office” in rural areas, allowing our folks in those areas to be able to communicate with the families abroad, digitally. For example, set up a Digital Post Office that allows Ma Juah or others who can’t afford a camera phone, to send a photo of herself to her son in Sweden, who she hasn’t seen in years A low cost generator, at least five computers with scanners, printers, a low cost camera at each “Digital Post Office” could make this a reality!All of what I have discussed in today’s article may not be all that the MoPT has achieved in recent times. In fact, I believe much of what they’ve accomplished has been omitted, inadvertently in this article. But I felt it necessary to write about this ministry today, simply because 22 out of 23 students could not tell me the role of the MoPT and many Liberians only know it for its postal services. I also believe it is one of the many UNSUNG institutions of Government. I hope this article provides new insight!Until next week, Carpe diem!!Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)