President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has backed the Ministry of Education’s (MOE) decision to administer a standardized test for public school teachers on their qualifications and abilities, and has warned that teachers who refused to take the test may lose their job.Speaking yesterday in Marshall, Margibi County, at the Kpakparkon Public School, President Sirleaf, told the school’s Vice Principal for Administration, Meshes Goah, after he admitted he had not taken the test that “Teachers that will not take the test will be out of job.” She said that public school teachers who trust themselves should take the test and prove that they are qualified to teach. President Sirleaf said teachers who make a pass will be better placed to have all of the benefits that come with the exercise. “If you trust yourself you should take the test and prove that you are qualified,” she said. Among his measures to reform the education system, Education Minister George Werner wants all teachers in the country to take test, which would enable MOE to know their qualifications.The MOE test and the ministry’s plan to outsource the country’s educational system through a Public Private Partnership (PPP) initiative are two unpopular reform policies that have been initiated by Minister Werner.The MOE test, since its pronouncement, has sparked confusion between teachers and the ministry, with teachers threatening to institute a nationwide strike action should the MOE continue with the exercise.Under the banner of the National Teachers’ Association of Liberia (NTAL), the teachers have meanwhile called on the government to stop the MOE from administering the test, and also put a halt to the implementation of the Public Private Partnership (PPP) activities until parties concerned can hold a nationwide consultative meeting. “The NTAL representatives to the National Executive Council are opposed to the administering of tests to teachers and education workers, as we know that the test is a part of the process of the PPP scheme,” the teachers said in a statement early this week.Amid the MOE’s test saga, the president of the NTAL, Rev. Ellen G. Varfley, has been impeached by members of the National Representative Council (NRC), a subsidiary of the NTAL. This action, which many have termed as politically driven, took place on Monday, April 11.Members of the council have, however, mandated Rev. Varfley to turn over all NTAL properties in her possession to the secretariat through the office of the secretary-general.Rev. Varfley, however, reacted swiftly, telling the Daily Observer in a mobile phone interview that she remains NTAL’s legitimate president, adding, “So, nothing is going to worry me, because we have a constitution that governs the association.”In a related development, the Kparkparkon Public School, an elementary school, was last Sunday burglarized by some unknown persons who took away several instructional materials, including books, and chalks. The panel doors to all of the classrooms were also taken away by the burglars.VP Goah is, meanwhile, appealing to the public to help the school as the administration and the kids have been left frustrated by this unwarranted act.President Sirleaf yesterday toured several road projects currently ongoing in Margibi and Montserrado Counties. Some of the projects included the A. B. Tolbert Road, the extension of the pavement of the Marshall Road, Police Academy Road and the Somalia Drive project. Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)
– argues that clause 18 falls under ‘National security’– fmr AG calls for review, criticising Govt might be “seditious”Despite concerns being expressed that the measures included in clause 18 of the Cybercrime Bill of 2016 could be used to silence critics, Government is unmoved, and is in fact insisting that the measure is for national security.According to clause 18 of the Bill, persons commit an offence of sedition when they, “attempt to bring into hatred or excite disaffection towards the Government.” These provisions have, in fact, excited worry among social media users.They took to the medium in their numbers to register concerns that their freedom of expression would be trampled. But at a post-Cabinet press conference on Friday, Minister of State, Joseph Harmon, insisted that the clause falls under National Security. “We consider it to be a very important bill. At a meeting of the National Security Committee, we discussed cyber security and the ability of the state to defend itself against a cyber-attack. Work is actively going on at the level of the state and society, but the measures of the bill are meant to strengthen our ability to defend ourselves against cyber-attack.”Opposition PPP/C Member of Parliament Anil NandlallHarmon argued that to read the section at the exclusion of the Bill’s entirety is taking it out of context. Pertaining to the wording of clause 18 of the Bill, Harmon maintained that the words speak to threats to national security.“It’s the kind of attack (wherein) you don’t have an enemy out there in uniform. These are people who utilise the internet, who utilise computers, to actually attack your systems. In particular, the Government is concerned about the security systems of the state…,” he said.“Espionage, sabotage, subversion… all of these are security issues which are important enough to the state. An attack which threatens any of these institutions from a computer constitutes an offence,” he clarified.The framersLaid in the National Assembly since 2016, the Cyber Crimes Bill had catered for, inter alia: illegal access to a computer system; illegal interception; illegal data interference; illegal acquisition of data; illegal system interference; unauthorised receiving or granting of access to computer data; computer-related forgery; computer- related fraud; offences affecting critical infrastructure; identity-related offences; child pornography; child luring, and violation of privacy among a sleuth of other offences.A special select committee had been working on the bill for the past few years, and its report on the bill was presented recently. That committee comprised Attorney General Basil Williams, Public Security Minister Khemraj Ramjattan, Education Minister Nicolette Henry and Parliamentarians Michael Carrington and Audwin Rutherford.The People’s Progressive Party was represented by Chief Whip Gail Teixeira and Parliamentarians Clement Rohee, Anil Nandlall and Gillian Persaud-Burton.For his part, former Attorney General Nandlall is of the view that the bill on a whole is a good one. He noted that when one considers how much the internet has pervaded everyday life, safety measures are in order.“We have a responsibility as law makers to govern this society to ensure that the laws we are promulgating are in sync with common realities…of what is considered democratic,” he said.But while acknowledging that he was a member of the committee, Nandlall revealed that he never attended any of the meetings due to work conflicts. He added that he is of the view that some parts of the bill, like provisions against sedition contained in clause 18, need to be reviewed.“The bill did not get the benefit of my views at the level of the committee…but I’ve read the bill, and two or three clauses jump out at you. They are very worrying and must be reviewed. Sedition is one of those offences that are archaic and is really a relic of the past. (It) has no place in modern, democratic society… especially in a country where the constitution guarantees free speech,” Nandlall stressed.