Position Struggle at EPA Vohiri Suspended

first_imgThe struggle for position at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is brewing as President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf’s quest to create a new position at the Agency backfires.According to documents obtained by the Daily Observer, President Sirleaf has opted to create a Deputy Executive Director for Operations at the EPA, contrary to the Act establishing the entity.It all started when Civil Service Agency (CSA) Director General George Werner wrote to EPA Executive Director Amyaa Vohiri requesting a new position to be occupied by former Margibi County superintendent Levi Piah.“I write to appeal for the creation of the Deputy Executive Director for Operations (DEDO) within the EPA,” CSA Werner said in a letter dated October 14, 2014 addressed to EPA.According to Werner, the DEDO will be accompanied by a Special Technical Assistant to the DEDO who will assist the DEDO with facilitating EPA’s operations.He added that fiscal allocations for both positions will be placed in EPA’s 2014/2015 Budget but will require EPA management’s follow up with the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning.Knowing full well that the creation of the two positions would contravene the EPA Act, the CSA communicated the Terms of Reference (ToRs) to EPA in an apparent attempt to justify the Civil Service’s request.According to information obtained by this paper, the EPA boss apprised stakeholders about the CSA request, forcing Finance and Development Planning Minister Amara Konneh to immediately intervene.In his letter of November 7, 2014 addressed to the CSA, Konneh proposed that such a request is directed to the EPA Board of Directors for approval prior to any action by the Ministry of Finance to include the positions in the FY2014/2015 National Budget.“I therefore request that you direct your appeal to the Board for consideration,” Konneh advised.Similar to Konneh’s reaction, Madam Vohiri reminded CSA that the request “contravenes the Act establishing EPA, an autonomous agency situated under the office of the President of the Republic of Liberia. Further, your directive does not in fact reflect a current need of the Agency. The leadership structure of the Agency as enshrined in the Act allows for the Executive Director, one Deputy Executive Director and line managers to inform the management team that is currently operating the EPA as successfully as it can, given the budgetary and technical constraints,” Madam Vohiri declared.President Johnson Sirleaf in apparent anger, wrote the EPA boss informing her of her immediate suspension.“In keeping with the authority granted me under the Constitution as head of the Executive Branch of which EPA is a part, and in response to your gross misconduct and disregard to the instructions given you in a meeting on Thursday, November 20, 2014, you are hereby suspended for an indefinite period of time.“The Minister of Finance and Development Planning, in his capacity as chair of the National Environmental Policy Council, has been advised on the reason for this decision and requested to take appropriate action,” President Sirleaf said to the EPA boss.However, the Act creating the EPA does not call for the establishing of the two positions. According to Section 16 A, B & C, “There shall be an Executive Director who is a person with wide environmental knowledge.“The Executive Director shall serve for the period of 7 years and shall be eligible for reappointment, except that there shall be appointed an interim ED.“The ED shall have security of tenure but shall cease to hold office if he/she, resigns, found guilty of gross misconduct on the advice of the Board and approval of the Policy Council or unable to discharge the functions of his/her office for health reasons.”Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

Education Ministry must do much more to deliver quality education

first_imgDear Editor,I was given a rude awakening recently as a first-time parent in our public secondary school system, beginning September this year. Virtually all the issues and problems confronting our children nationally were rolled out at a parent teacher conference at my child’s school, Richard Ishmael Secondary, in November. It was discovered that the Education Ministry was the principal source of the factors contributing to the failure of many of our children during their secondary school years. I assumed the responsibility of drafting a letter to the school’s principal which outlined those issues which had to be addressed at the administrative level and which required cooperation from the Education Ministry.At the parent conference, it was found that the Education Ministry had so overcrowded the school with children at the Grade Seven level that another class was permanently established in the school’s library, barring any regular use of that facility by other students of the school. Additionally, one other class had been split into two, within the same classroom, with a couple of blackboards being poorly used to divide the two classes. Based on a sight estimate of the students in the library and split class, the Education Ministry had overcrowded the school in Grade Seven alone by close to 50 students. No effort had been made to check on the prevalence of overcrowding across the entire school.The second major problem created by the Ministry was that it failed to meet the school’s staffing requirements for teachers at the beginning of the term, resulting in many subjects being inadequately delivered and the students being very often unsupervised. The overcrowding of the classes and their increase in number only compounded the problems faced by the school’s available teachers.These two factors contributed to the heightened levels of indiscipline faced by teachers and the administration. I myself had discussed this issue with the school’s administration earlier in the term, dealing in particular with female students being sexually and physically harassed even at the Grade Seven level. At the time I had proposed that the administration address the problem with the entire school through assemblies. It is noteworthy here that inadequate teaching staff only compounds the problem of indiscipline as students now find themselves more unsupervised and more often than not facing off with aggressive students, becoming aggressive themselves as a deterrent mechanism.We also found that students were forced to clean their classrooms. Again, we could not understand why inadequate ancillary staff had become a chronic problem which forced our children to spend time cleaning their classes and dirtying their uniforms instead of learning.I do not know how long this has been going on, but it is suspected that what obtains at Richard Ishmael Secondary School is a pretty fair estimate of what transpires in the lower grade schools across the country. Parents are therefore encouraged to attend their children’s parent/teachers meetings and other discussion forums hosted by their child(ren)’s school administrations, and get involved in demanding quality education for their children, now recognised internationally as one of children’s primary rights. They should also chat more with their daughters to ensure that they are not being physically or sexually harassed at school.The Education Ministry has obviously been working in the absence of guidelines governing staffing of schools and allocating children across the nation’s public schools. If such guidelines exist, they very clearly were not followed in the case of Richard Ishmael Secondary School. No effort should be spared to correct what is a gross abuse of our children and their right to a proper education, not only at Richard Ishmael, but across the entire country.Respectfully,Craig SylvesterParentlast_img read more