The South African Ambassador to Liberia, Masilo Mabeta, announced at the weekend that his government had decided to begin issuing visas to Liberians. This is wonderful news because it will save our people the costly and embarrassing inconvenience of traveling to neighboring countries to obtain S.A. visas.Ambassador Mabeta went to the Foreign Ministry last Friday to inform Foreign Minister Augustine Ngafuan about the S.A. government’s decision. Mr. Ngafuan thanked the Ambassador profusely and under the same breath pleaded with the European Union to emulate South Africa’s example. It is hard to understand why the Europeans are continuing to punish Liberians with the humiliating, costly and time-consuming necessity to travel to neighboring countries for visas to enter Europe.If each European nation thinks it too costly to set up a consular section in its embassy in Monrovia, why can’t the whole of Europe mandate the European Union Delegation to Liberia to handle this aspect and save Liberians all the trouble, including time and cost of traveling to Abidjan, Abuja, Accra, Dakar, Freetown to get a European visa?In 2010 following a harrowing experience traveling from Monrovia to Accra and to Abuja in search for a Schengen for his scheduled travel to Austria and Germany, the publisher of the Daily Observer wrote an odyssey which was published in this newspaper. It claimed the immediate attention of the Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany, Bodo Schaff, who said he had immediately reported the matter to the Foreign Office in Berlin. After reading Mr. Best’s odyssey, Ambassador Schaff did not only apologize to the Liberian people for all the inconveniences; he also pledged to work with his government toward redressing the situation. Alas, the good, friendly and effective Ambassador most probably did what he could, and has since ended his tenure and returned to Germany. But the problem remains. If a Liberian or person or any other nationality residing in Liberia wishes to travel to Europe, he or she still has to go to one of those African capitals to apply for a visa. In his September 28 and 29, 2010 odyssey, Mr. Best said he had first gone to Accra and the German embassy there told him to go to the Austrian embassy in Abuja, Nigeria. He traveled to Abuja the next day and was told that he should rather go to Dakar. He told them that that would make him late for the event in Vienna should he go to Dakar. It was upon the kind intervention of the Liberian Ambassador in Abuja, Alhassan Conteh, that the Austrian embassy finally relented, and the Observer publisher was able to get the visa.Mr. Best, a born Liberian, could not understand why it caused him so much trouble getting German and Austrian visas when Liberia has been for nearly two centuries Germany’s closest African friend. The Germanic states, Mr. Best said in his essay, became in 1848 among the first foreign powers to recognize Liberia’s independence. “There have almost always been cordial diplomatic and sisterly relations between Germany and Liberia. Indeed, before the Second World War, it was Germany that dominated the Liberian economy . . . it was German merchants that shipped Liberian produce, including coffee, cocoa, piassava, palm oil, palm kernels, pepper and other products to Europe and elsewhere. Most of the medical doctors in Liberia were German . . . until World War II when Germans had to leave Liberia. But following the War [long before most African states gained independence from their European colonizers] Liberia resumed very cordial diplomatic relations with Germany. President W.V.S. Tubman and Conrad Adenauer, [Germany’s] first post-war Chancellor, were very good friends, and exchanged state visits in the 1950s and 1960s. This friendship led to many, many Liberians pursuing professional studies in Germany in a wide range of fields, including Architecture, Engineering, Medicine, Natural Science, Philosophy, Social Science and Vocational and Technical training. In the mid-1960s German industrialists, Eugene Plotzky, invested in the Bong Mining Company . . . The German government built one of the biggest and most beautiful embassy compounds in Monrovia, which spanned Tubman Boulevard to the Atlantic Ocean.”We urge the EU and all European embassies in Monrovia to do their best to ease the pain of Liberians by pleading with their governments to mandate the EU Delegation in Liberia to start issuing Schengen visas in Monrovia. Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)
Students participate in a physics experiment. Photo: Ashley Brandson/APTNAshley BrandsonAPTN NewsFor the past ten years the University of Manitoba has played host to high school students from around the province and Saskatchewan as they take part in the Verna J. Kirkness Science and Engineering Education Program.The program addresses the under-representation of First Nations, Metis and Inuit students at Canadian Universities.The foundation offers all expense paid scholarships to Indigenous high school students to spend a week at a Canadian university meeting role models and learning about support systems that are available to them.Throughout the month of May, the program visited nine universities across the country.This year, 39 Indigenous students are spending a week at the University of Manitoba, learning about different science and engineering departments.“I’ve learned some stuff about the function of muscles, the science behind activity and how that helps athletes become better in sport,” says grade student Lochlan Lubinski.He spent that last 4 days exploring the department of kinesiology, the study of the mechanics of body movements.“It’s cool, I get to visit people working in different areas in the kinesiology department,” he says.(Lochlan Lubinski is showing off what he learned in the Kinesiology department. Photo: Ashley Brandson/APTN)Emillee Fronda got the opportunity to learn more about physics.“We did some work with radiation which I thought was going to be scary, but then we did some training and they explained how it should be scary, it’s a natural thing,” she says.Fronda says she’s interested in engineering and this week has been a great experience to get a small glimpse of what university life will be like.“I’ve been learning a lot and this is helping me become a lot more comfortable.”Ron Woznow is the executive director and founder of the Verna J. Kirkness Science and Engineering Education Program.Since he founded the program in 2009, more than 500 students have participated in the foundation.“I’m not Indigenous myself, but I was raised by a single mother who thought every child deserved an education, and I guess she passed that on to me,” says Woznow.(Verna Kirkness. Facebook)He says he named the foundation after Kirkness to honour her accomplishments as an educator.“She’s 83 this year, started at 17 as a teaching assistant – ended up as a professor at the University of British Colombia.”Woznow says statistics show there’s a significant drop out rate between grade 10 and grade 12.One of the goals of this program is to excite young Indigenous students who hope to further their education after high school.He hopes by bringing students to post secondary institutions and allowing them to be mentored by a professor and their colleagues, it shows them that there are resources available for them.(The program takes place at the University of Manitoba. Photo: Ashley Brandson/APTN)Another important goal of the foundation is to increase the number of First Nations, Metis and Inuit students enrolling in science and engineering programs in Canada, and one day graduating.“We do see a lot of students returning,” says Ruth Shead, Co-ordinator of Indigenous Achievement.“I don’t have the exact numbers, but we have a few who have gone on to medical school and some have returned to our engineering program.”Woznow says he hopes the students leave this program excited about their future in post secondary education and that it motivates them to graduate high school.“We hope they understand if they have a dream of what they want to do, they’ll more confidence in themselves on how to achieve it.”[email protected]@ashleybrandson
It is the government’s duty to protect the
Kolkata: Bengal government is taking initiatives to increase fish production in the drought prone areas of the state by preserving rain water. This will assist the local fishermen to increase the production of fishes.In a bid to boost pisciculture, the state fisheries department will set up more watersheds in the drought prone districts like Bankura, Purulia, Birbhum, West Midnapore and some other districts, where considerable amount of rain water is wasted. Also Read – Speeding Jaguar crashes into Merc, 2 B’deshi bystanders killedAccording to the experts, if rain water is harnessed by small dams, it can be used for pisciculture, cultivation and also domestic purposes during the lean season. The department is taking up comprehensive development schemes to enhance fishery infrastructure in the drought prone areas to improve the overall socio-economic condition of fishermen in the region. A watershed is defined as the land that contributes water to a given site. It is a line that connects all the highest points in the area. A watershed provides a natural environmental unit for planning a developmental initiative. The watershed mapping in the districts of Purulia and Bankura has been done to delineate watershed boundaries and suggest the suitable sites for check dams for water harvesting. A digital map of water bodies was already created by the Fisheries department. Also Read – Naihati: 10 councillors return to TMC from BJPThe GIS based map of water bodies will help in managing e-governance in the fishery sector. Web based availability of GIS maps will improve decision making process in a decentralised set up, thereby creating a scenario of efficient management.Moreover, water stored in check dams also helps in reaching the ground water through bottom percolation in the subsurface. Watershed development thus plays an important role in uplifting the rural economy, increasing fish production, agricultural production, afforestation, water, soil and land management in the drought prone areas. Co-operative farming is also given paramount importance to strengthen co-operative fish farming. The schemes will engage unemployed rural youth that will uplift the rural economy. The department has chalked out a detailed plan to make West Bengal self sufficient in fish production and to increase export.The state fisheries department is also keen on the implementation of the People Participatory Programme (PPP) method for the sustainable development of fisheries. The purpose of PPP is to develop an operational method to increase participation of local fishermen in fish production, storage and distribution.This will also prove handy for the fisher folk to organise self-help groups and co-operatives which in turn will increase their income. They will be given access to the existing fishing ponds and fishery infrastructure.