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Monrovia, Liberia: December 04, 2020- The Board Chairman of the Center for Transparency and Accountability in Liberia (CENTAL) says tackling the menace of corruption in Liberia requires more robust and concerted efforts of every citizen as well as actors in the private and public sectors. 

Cllr. Negbalee Warner said there is a need to foster partnership and stronger collaborations in the fight against corruption as it remains a battle that cannot be easily won by a single institution or sector of the country. 

Cllr. Warner is also the Dean of the Arthur Grimes School of Law at the University of Liberia (UL). He made the statement recently in Monrovia at a program marking the observance of the 2020 International Anti-Corruption Day (IACD).  

Held under the theme: “Reducing Corruption in the Private Sector as a Drive to Enhancing Economic Development and Good Governance,” the program was organized by the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC) in collaboration with the Center for Transparency and Accountability in Liberia (CENTAL) with support from the Government and people of Sweden through the Swedish International Development Corporation Agency (SIDA).  

"In order to tackle the menace of corruption, we, at CENTAL have embarked on building a partnership. We need collaboration and partnership in fighting corruption because it will take more than an institution or sector to fight. This can't be a government alone thing; it is the responsibility of every one of us in here and out there to fight corruption," Cllr Warner said. 

Representing the Minister of Finance and Development Planning (MFDP), Samuel Tweah, Deputy Minister for Budget and Development Planning, Tanneh G. Brunson said in an environment like Liberia where unethical practices are prevalent, the private sector of the country needs to resort to collective action in order to change the status quo by getting regulators to intervene or set standards.

Madam Brunson stated that it was important for the sector to put in place institutional systems and incentives to prevent corruption from occurring.

The Deputy Finance and Development Planning Minister indicated that the need for preventive measures that call for credible deterrence relying on accountability and enforcement mechanisms sufficiently strong enough to send a message to potential wrongdoers of the possible risk associated with their misconducts was necessary. 

“We must, however, recognize that the local political and social context influences both the level of corruption and the reform approaches likely to meet with success or failure,” Madam Brunson said.

This year’s IACD provided a platform to state actors and the business community to dialogue on the mechanisms and approaches that heighten transparency and accountability for a conducive business environment and sustainable economic growth and development in Liberia.

Speaking earlier, the Chairperson of LACC, Cllr. Ndubusi Nwabudike called on the private sector to join the battle against corruption because according to him, the private sector is in most cases the main facilitator of corruption.

"We must intensify effort to reduce corruption. This year's theme is about the private sector because corruption goes beyond government, but in all sectors of the country,” Cllr. Nwabudike stated. 

The day-long dialogue forum which took plays on Wednesday, December 2, 2020, brought together experts and actors from both public and private sectors to present on various topics, including Liberia’s business climate in the context of the Pro-Poor Agenda for Prosperity and Development (PAPD) and international anti-corruption standards; diagnosis of the critical elements to improve the business climate and fight corruption; business as an active player in preventing corruption, among others. 

Thursday, 26 November 2020 16:09

Public not Private ....Government urged

Written by
Monrovia, Liberia; November 23, 2020- The Government of Liberia has been urged to ensure that public education is made inclusive, accessible, and affordable as well as gender-sensitive and responsive in the best interest of the people of Liberia rather than the privatization of the sector. Anderson Miamen, National Coordinator of the Coalition for Transparency and Accountability in Education (COTAE) said the right to education is a fundamental human right guaranteed under different international, regional, and national framework documents, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the African Charter on Human People’s Rights, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the Pro-Poor Agenda for Prosperity and Development (PAPD) and the Constitution of Liberia. Speaking at the opening of a two-day training workshop to increase stakeholders’ knowledge about the Abidjan Principles and key issues related to fulfillment of the right to education in Liberia, as such, Miamen said the Government of Liberia should ensure that education, especially public education is affordably provided to every citizen irrespective of their tribes, locations, economic statuses, sex, genders, and religions on an equal basis with similar qualities and standards as any private school or even better. The COTAE National Coordinator noted that the Abidjan Principles seeks to advance different tools to be used to promote, support, protect and defend the right to education in Liberia as well as the need to consolidate efforts aimed at increasing the support for education in the country. The Abidjan Principles came into being as a result of a group of human rights experts from around the world who adopted the instrument on the right to education. It seeks to strengthen existing efforts to ensure that everyone’s right to education is protected in the context of growing and often unregulated private actor involvement in education. In remarks, Deputy Education Minister for Planning and Research, Alton V. Kesselly said there was a need for education stakeholders, policymakers and the citizens to avoid mixing politics with education. “If we continue to mix politics with education then our education sector will continue to go backward,” Min. Kesselly said. He indicated that with the progress made by Liberian students in the just ended West Africa Senior Secondary Certificate Examination (WASSCE), it was important for policymakers to prioritize the education sector of the country for the future of school-going children who are considered the future leaders. Also, the Coordinator of the Civil Society Human Rights Platform of Liberia, Adama Dempster said the gathering was important as it provided journalists with the relevant pieces of information on human rights issues. Mr. Dempster indicated that Liberia has signed a number of international conventions, but the implementation of these protocols is still posing a challenge for the Government of Liberia. “In order to show commitment as a country, we have to consider the implementation of the different protocols, especially the Abidjan Principles,” he said. The Country Director of ActionAid Liberia, Lakshmi More made a presentation on: ‘Understanding privatization and its implications for the fulfillment of the right to education in Liberia, especially for women, youths, children, minority groups and persons with special needs.’ Beneficiaries of the training appreciated COTAE for providing what they referred to as an ‘insightful’ training and vowed to amplify ongoing advocacy efforts by COTAE and others for the betterment of the country’s education sector. The day-long training workshop brought together over fifty (50) journalists from several print and electronic media institutions as well as civil society organizations in Liberia. It was organized by the Coalition for Transparency and Accountability in Education (COTAE) with support from the Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA).

The Coalition for Transparency and Accountability in Education (COTAE) has formally launched a research report on innovative domestic education budgeting.

Titled: 'Improving Education through Democracy: More 4 Education- The Case for Innovative Domestic Education Budgeting: Assuring Access and Quality Outcomes,’ the research seeks to mobilize additional sources of revenue/funding for the education sector separate from the traditional national budget allocation for public institutions through alternative strategies, a process that is more innovative and feasible over short, medium, and long terms.

 

WhatsApp Image 2020 10 20 at 6.47.22 AM

Monrovia, Liberia; October 13, 2020- The Chairperson of the Board of Directors of the Center for Transparency and Accountability in Liberia (CENTAL) has challenged staff of the organization to serve by examples as they endeavor for a society that is free of corruption, transparent and accountable.

CENTAL is the National Chapter of Transparency International (TI) which has more than 120 chapters and networks around the world.

Cllr. T. Negbalee Warner said individuals serving as staff of the organization must live above the ordinary and have personal integrity as well as develop a sense of commitment and dedication to match their deeds with work as they serve in their different communities, places of assignments, and homes.

“We have to make efforts to match our deeds with our works. To whom much is given, much is expected,” Cllr. Warner said at the opening of a one-day pre-project implementation workshop for staff on CENTAL’s National Integrity Building and Anti-Corruption (NIBA) program held at the Corina Hotel in Sinkor.

The Dean of the Louis Arthur Grimes School of Law at the University of Liberia (UL) said the NIBA project represents the largest funding received by CENTAL since its establishment in 2004 to fight against corruption and bad governance in Liberia.

The National Integrity Building and Anti-Corruption (NIBA) program is a US$1.7 million project covering 3.5 years (42 months) to be implemented in seven counties- Montserrado, Grand Bassa, Gbarpolu, Bomi, Nimba, Bong, and Rivercess, with funding from the Government and people of Sweden.

The project’s overall objective is to endeavor for ‘a corruption-free Liberia where citizens act with transparency and integrity in all their dealings.’

Also speaking, the First Secretary at the Embassy of Sweden, Arto Immonen said the Embassy seeks to support civil society and other organizations working in Liberia to promote accountability and good governance in Liberia.

Mr. Immonen said as part of the Embassy’s internal appraisal process on proposals, the team takes into consideration different perspectives, including human rights, gender, the poor and marginalized, and other dimensions that promote inclusion and accountability at all levels.

He thanked the team at CENTAL for the milestone in landing the NIBA program that seeks to work for a corruption-free Liberia and expressed optimism that CENTAL will work to achieve its objectives.

The one-day gathering was held under the theme: “Building Staff Capacity to Enhance Productivity and Tackle Corruption.” It seeks to facilitate interaction, learning, and information sharing among the Board, leadership, and staff of CENTAL as well as increase staff’s awareness and understanding of key policies, programs, and activities.

 

CENTAL’s Executive Director Anderson D. Miamen also stressed the need for the staff of the organization to serve with a high level of integrity at all times. Mr. Miamen said if CENTAL must fairly checkmate the system and tackle corruption in Liberia, people working with the organization must be people of high integrity.

 

During an overview of the workshop, the Program Manager of CENTAL, Gerald D. Yeakula further highlighted the importance of the training to the attendees. He also challenged the staff, especially incoming members, to consider working with the institution as an opportunity to improve their capacity and skills to enable them to excel in the institution, nationally, and otherwise.

 

The one-day training brought together members of the Board, partners, office, and project staff from across the seven targeted counties- Montserrado, Grand Bassa, Gbarpolu, Bomi, Nimba, Bong, and Rivercess.

                                                                                                                     Press Statement for Immediate Release

(Monrovia, Thursday, July 16, 2020)

Distinguished ladies and gentlemen of the Press, Fellow Liberians

The Center for Transparency and Accountability in Liberia (CENTAL) strongly detests recent statements attributed to Senator J. Milton Teahjay of Sinoe County, in an audio released by Frontpage Africa on Friday, July 10, 2020. In that recording, the Senator alluded to what he coined as “his traditional form of corruption” before and after the confirmation process of nominees for particular positions before the Liberian Senate, especially the Standing Committee on Autonomous Agencies from which he was recently replaced.

 This is extremely sad and unfortunate, as it undermines his due diligence and oversight role as a Lawmaker. What is even more concerning about the Senator’s action is desire, without any remorse, to continue with such action. Such conduct,  appears to be a common practice at the Legislature, is gross disregard for  Section 9.6 of the Code of Conduct for public officials, which states: “no public official shall use an official position to pursue private interest that may result in conflict of interest”. Also, it undermines the spirit and intent of the Code of Conduct, whose Preamble provides for impartiality, objectivity, transparency, integrity, efficiency and effectiveness in the performance of the duties and responsibilities of public officials and employees, including Senator Teahjay and other members of the Legislature. 

This act of political and official corruption, which has led to recruitment of incompetent individuals in strategic positions in government, is one of key contributors to the increasing level of poor performance at many government ministries and agencies in Liberia.  If the Senator can unduly solicit jobs for family members, supporters, and cronies, it is equally possible that he requests for monetary rewards in the performance of his duties.  Furthermore, those recommended for employment could be required to commit portions of their salaries as precondition for their consideration by the Senator and his Committee. It must be noted that this is the same Senator who, in the Case R/L Vs. J. Milton Teahjay, the 14th Judicial Circuit of Rivercess County in 2018, was found guilty of violating the Public Procurement and Concession Commission (PPCC) guidelines and procedures in the awarding of contracts for the implementation of county development projects, while serving as Superintendent of Sinoe County. Accordingly, he was fined US$50,000.00 to be paid within the period of nine months in government’s revenue.

Such continuous misrepresentation and abuse of public trust and confidence by the Senator is totally unacceptable and should have no place in the Liberian Society, especially public service.

We call on the Leadership and members of the Liberian Senate to timely and thoroughly investigate reported payment of $20,000 USD by Cllr. Ndubusi Nwabudike, current head of the Liberia Anti-Corruption Corruption, to be confirmed as Chairperson of the National Elections Commission. Also, we call for appropriate punitive action against the Senator by his colleagues for practicing interest peddling and bribery[1] by soliciting jobs for his family members, friends, and confidantes as basis for confirming nominees, a clear violation of relevant Liberian Laws, including the Code of Conduct of 2014 and the 1986 Liberian Constitution. More broadly, the Legislature must do more to enhance public confidence in its work and activities. At the moment, the public perceives the Legislature as the weakest link in Liberia’s governance process, a view Senator Teahjay’s actions tend to validate. As Liberia strives to regain its position among the comity of nations, it is incumbent upon those serving in positions of public trust to exert every degree of particularity and nationalism in ensuring the system works better for all. And the Legislature, as the first branch of government and direct representation of the people, must lead by example on this.

Corruption/Fraud at the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning

Distinguished members of the Press, our attention has equally been drawn to a recent media publication, which speaks to discovery of an alleged fraudulent situation at the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning involving some unscrupulous individuals. It can be recalled that on Monday, July 13, 2020, the FrontPage Africa Newspaper reported that six employees at the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning (MFDP) were arrested for an alleged criminal cartel. The scandal, which was unearthed by the  Comptroller and Accountant General of the Republic of Liberia, Mr. Janka Kowo pertains to illegal withdrawal L$6M from an account owned by the MFDP. This incident further exposes loopholes within the financial management system, which need to be identified and addressed to prevent abuse of public resources by unscrupulous individuals in an already impoverished country like Liberia.

We like to appreciate the Ministry of Finance Development and Planning for its initial stance in uncovering the said plot, and also informing the public about the situation. We call on the relevant state actors, especially the Liberia Anti-Corruption  Commission to robustly and impartially investigate the incident. And the outcome of such investigation must be communicated to the public and fully implemented, including prosecution of those who masterminded and perpetrated the act.  We would appreciate were other reported scandals and incidences of corruption and unethical conducts of public officials and employees given the same attention and prompt action, especially the $US25 million Mop-Up Exercise which is still being investigated by the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission, despite the General Auditing Commission describing the process as being marred by “gross discrepancies”.

In conclusion, we urge the Government of Liberia to be more decisive and pragmatic in dealing with corruption in the country, including timely investigation and prosecution of all reported corruption scandals/cases. We wish to strongly caution against selective fight against corruption that mainly targets low-level individuals and those seemingly detached from higherups in the government and well-placed persons in society. Liberians deserve better! As such, their taxes and other resources must work for them and not few individuals in society, especially public officials.

Signed: Management

[1] Bribery, as defined by section 1.3.2 of the Code of Conduct: Any reward or inducement paid to a Public Official or Employee of Government for doing or forbearing to do anything in respect of any matter or transaction within the scope of their official duties. It is anything promised, offered, given, accepted or received by a Public Official and Employee of Government for or on account of favor given or to be given in the exercise of his or her official duties, and includes what is known widely in local terminology as “cold water” or “eating”.

The Coalition for Transparency and Accountability in Education (COTAE) is concerned over discrepancies in compliance with guidelines by re-opened schools amid increasing cases of COVID-19 in Liberia. It can be recalled that the Ministry of Education (MoE) on June 19th released “Guidelines for Safe School Environments in the Corona Virus (COVID-19) Outbreak in Liberia” to guide the re-opening of schools in Liberia, and to be observed by school administrators, teachers, students, staff etc.. According to the Ministry, the guidelines are intended to ensure safe school environments in the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak in Liberia as it defines the minimum requirements that must be in place in every school (Public and Private) to ensure that, from a health, water, sanitation and hygiene point of view, the school is a safe place for all students and school personnel. The guidelines cover hand washing facilities, Water sanitation and hygiene, general health, cleaning and eating and drinking practices. While COTAE applauds the government for its continuous effort in the fight, we seize this opportunity to re-emphasize the importance of having schools as safe places during this pandemic.  

Between July 1-3, 2020, COTAE embarked on monitoring of schools within Montserrado to gauge compliance with guidelines issued by MoE. Our team of data collectors visited thirty-nine (39) schools in Gardnersville, Du-port Road, Old Road, Brewerville, Sinkor, Duala, etc. using a checklist approved by the MoE for data collection. Data gathered reveals that while there are substantial efforts being applied by both schools’ administrators and students to adhere to the guidelines, there are still gaps that need to be addressed. We note that all schools visited have hand washing stations installed at their entrances. However, discrepancies exist regarding classroom spacing, masks wearing, handwashing at bathrooms, and referral systems. 72% of schools surveyed were compliant with wearing of nose masks, while 28% were not. 33.3% of schools did not observe one-meter spacing in classrooms, while 64% of schools had at least two thermoflashes. Also, only 54% of schools surveyed had a functioning hand washing station at their bathrooms. As for referral system, only 46% of schools surveyed had agreed a system of referral with the County Health Team for likely cases of COVID-19.  

From the above excerpt of data collected, it is clear that more needs to be done to ensure compliance with safety guidelines. COTAE therefore calls on government, through the Ministry of Education,  to ensure that all health protocols are fully adhered to by all schools through a rigorous supervision process. The roles of  school administrations, Parent-Teachers Associations, and civil society organizations are also significant in this regard and we call on these stakeholders to join efforts to keep learning spaces safe. This will ensure that a concerted effort is being made to protect students and school administrators in their return to the classroom. Given the spike in confirmed cases to Nine hundred and Twenty-Six (926) and a death toll of forty-one (41), the importance of instituting and supervising safety measures for students and administrators against this deadly disease cannot be overly emphasized.

We are also encouraging heads of academic institutions to ensure they put into place monitoring mechanisms on students aimed at ensuring they conform to the prescribed health protocols. Students also have a role to play in ensuring that they keep safe and compliant with the guidelines. We remain optimistic that this call will be heeded by all concerned as we fight COVID-19 in Liberia.

Thank you!

Signed:

Management

The Coalition for Transparency and Accountability in Education (COTAE) is deeply concerned about the fate of the Education Sector, especially the inadequacy of resources that continues to undermine the quality, adequacy and accessibility, and gender sensitivity of educational services in Liberia. As you may be aware, Education is a fundamental human right, guaranteed by Article 6 of the 1986 Liberian Constitution, Sustainable Development Goal 4, the Abidjan Principles and other global, regional and national frameworks and policies. Such right cannot be downplayed by any nation, especially impoverished country like Liberia in urgent need of the required human capital to develop, fully implement and sustain its transformative agenda.

We wish to thank the Government of Liberia for steady progress towards increasing national budgetary support to education. Over the last two budget years, the allocation for education has increased, especially by 1 percent from 13.7 percent in fiscal year 2017/2018 to 14.7 percent in 2018/2019, as well as another percentage increment for fiscal year 2019/2020 representing 15.8%. Thanks to concerted efforts by the More 4 Education Campaign[1], funded by USAID through the Liberia Accountability and Voice Initiative; the Ministry of Education; Legislature, and other critical partners and stakeholders that made this possible.

Nevertheless, there’s not much to celebrate as Government’s support to education in Liberia lags far behind regional counterparts. A research conducted by COTAE in 2018 discovered that Sierra Leone allocated 27% to education, while Ghana and Senegal appropriated 35% of their budgets to education respectively. Besides, the actual education budget for fiscal year 2019/20 suffered an 8% decrease from US$570.14 million in FY 2018/19 to US$525.91 million in FY 2019/20. In other words, the percentage increment for education to 15.8% amounts to US$83.4 million, a US$1.9 million decline when compared to the US$85.3 million allocation for FY 2018/2019.

All of these are happening when the education sector is faced with numerous challenges due to low financing. The challenges have even been exacerbated by COVID-19, which has left schools closed for a protracted period and needing repair, fumigation, and other efforts to secure them for learning upon resumption of full academic activities. These add to existing challenges, including but not limited to lack of adequate learning facilities and supplies; shortage of trained and motivated teachers; lack of gender sensitive and responsive services; and limited opportunities to enroll and retain girls and persons with special needs in school.

Transforming education in Liberia, in part through addressing corruption and waste, decentralizing decision making and empowering local level structures; and addressing the plights of teachers, students and other educational workers requires timely, collective and well-coordinated efforts. The COVID-19 outbreak has heightened the need for keen attention to the education sector, given its critical role in keeping students and teachers engaged in academic and other productive activities, especially during emergencies. With the increasing gravitation towards online education, which has become apparent due to social distancing, restriction on movement, and other relevant health protocols announced by the government, the Ministry of Education needs to devise appropriate means to keep all students engaged. While the teaching by Radio Program introduced by the Ministry and partners somehow helped to keep students engaged, the quality and coverage left more to be desired. Among other things, the program was limited in scope and coverage, as remote areas were not adequately covered. This means that students without radio and those in rural areas still do not have access to education during this period, which is gross violation of their rights to education.

As the 2020/2021 national budget is being developed, we reiterate call for the Government of Liberia, especially the Executive and Legislature to honor their obligations to increase budgetary support to education to at least 20%. This will not only meet the minimum 20% benchmark/commitment required by the Global Partnership for Education, Incheon Declaration of 2015 and other global frameworks, but enable MOE, the National Commission on Higher Education and other key players to address enormous existing challenges, which have been compounded by the emergence of COVID-19. There is no better time to substantially invest in education than now when COVID-19 has exposed the weaknesses of the system, especially its inability to continue with academic and other productive activities during emergency.

Government must honor its commitment to satisfactorily fund and fulfil the right to education of its citizens, in line with Article 6 of the 1986 Liberian Constitution, Pillar One (Power to the People) of the Pro-Poor Agenda for Prosperity and Development (PAPD), and adopted international instruments such as the UN Convention on the Right of the Child (UNCRC), Incheon Declaration of 2015, Dakar Framework of 2000, Sustainable Development Goal 4, and Abidjan Principles of 2019.

Thank you.

Signed: Management

0886818855

[1] The More 4 Education Coalition is funded by USAID LAVI and is comprised of the Coalition for Transparency and Accountability in Education (COTAE), Youth Coalition for Education in Liberia (YOCEL), National Teachers Association of Liberia (NTAL), Inclusive Development Initiative (IDI), National PTA Network of Liberia (NAPTANOL), Helping Our People Excel (HOPE) and Youth Movement for Collective Action (UMovement).

Monrovia, Friday, June 26, 2020

JOINT CSO PRESS RELEASE

The Center for Transparency and Accountability in Liberia (CENTAL); Institute for Research and Democratic Development (IREDD); Naymote Partners for Democratic Development (NAYMOTE-Liberia); and Accountability Lab Liberia Strongly Condemn the Thursday, June 25, 2020 violent demonstration in the Sinkor area, especially setting up of unauthorized road blocks and burning of car tires by unscrupulous individuals allegedly associated with the Council of Patriots (COP), organizer of the June 7, 2019 protest in Monrovia.

We are appalled by this unwholesome act of violence, as such action has the propensity to undermine Liberia’s peace and instill fear in citizens and development partners as well as create a sense of insecurity. While we recognize the rights of individuals or groups to protest and or voice out their frustration (s) about any happenings in the country, they must do so civilly and legally.  We call on the Ministry of Justice and Liberian National Police to timely investigate the matter and prosecute those who masterminded and executed the Violence.

By the same token, we like to strongly condemn misjudged statement by the Mayor of the City of Monrovia, Mr. Jefferson Kojee that he will form a Citizens Action Unit (CAU) that will serve as first responder to violent demonstrations/protests in the city of Monrovia. Such statement is unwarranted, counterproductive to Liberia’s peace and undermines the roles of the Liberian National Police and other state security apparatuses in the country. We urge Mr. Kojee to desist from making such utterances as it equally tends to ferment violence and jeopardize the peace of the country.

Finally, we encourage all Liberians to jealously protect the Peace, as any violence and instability will worsen the already difficult economic condition of the Country.

Signed:

Lawrence Yealue                                                                   Anderson Miamen

Country Representative , Accountability Lab Liberia    Executive Director, CENTAL

   

Harold Marvin Aidoo, Sr.                                                  Eddie D. Jarwolo

Executive Director, IREDD                                               Executive Director, NAYMOTE

Press Statement for Immediate Release

 

Monrovia, June 23, 2020

Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen of the Press, Fellow Liberians!

The Coalition for Transparency and Accountability in Education (COTAE) is alarmed over the spike in COVID-19 infections in the country and calls on the Government to take prompt and adequate measures to to curb the spread of the disease. With Six hundred and Fifty (650) confirmed cases and thirty-four (34) deaths, the importance of safeguarding against this deadly disease cannot be overly emphasized. Liberia cannot afford to once again endure a scourge as we did in 2014 with the Ebola Virus Disease. Our memories are still fresh in respect of how loved ones were taken away, including our frontline medical personnel and healthcare workers. More than 5,900 Liberian children lost one or both parents to Ebola. Some are with a surviving parent, others found loving homes with friends or relatives, but many have been left orphaned on the streets or are finding it tough to adapt to new lives with host families.[1] If care is not taken, we risk losing our precious ones and endangering the future of many, especially our children—a situation we cannot afford.

COTAE recognizes the Government of Liberia’s efforts in extending the State of Emergency (SOE), which ended June 21, 2020, by an additional thirty (30) days so as to “afford the government the opportunity to re-examine its COVID-19 response strategy”. We believe that this is a step in the right direction but urge government to involve civil society and other stakeholders in its response strategy moving forward. Responding to COVID-19 without regard to the Liberian context has proven ineffective so far as the public no longer seem to comply with health protocols and associated restrictions. It is, therefore, imperative that all hands are on deck to collectively fight the disease. Government has its role to play and so is civil society, media and other partners.

An inclusive response, as demanded by civil society from the onset, would have prevented the current surge we are experiencing in communities. Meaningful involvement of all partners would have removed any cloud of suspicion from response efforts and further strengthen approaches, including those related to the feeding program, case tracking, curfew etc.  Also, a broader response would have relied on the expertise, strengths, and unique capacities of each stakeholder including those versed in community entry, social mobilization, awareness creation, transparency and accountability, human rights, etc.

It is, however, not too late the correct the missteps taken earlier on.  The reality of the surge imposes upon all a duty to contribute our resources to put an end to this scourge. In sum, everyone has a role to play and a holistic approach must therefore be properly carved out. With the extension of the SOE, more needs to be done to avert human rights abuses, address accountability concerns, and adequately respond to the attending consequences of the outbreak and SOE on other sectors, especially education.

We, therefore, make the following recommendations: 

  • That civil society organizations be accorded the full respect and given the space to operate. The Leaderships and essential staff of CSOs must be equally allowed to work, as they play vital roles in creating awareness, providing valuable inputs to government as well as independent monitoring and reporting on key trends and decision-making processes around the fight. 
  • That the rights of citizens are fully respected and protected during the fight against COVID-19. Brutality against citizens, especially women, must never be an option. We call on Government to investigate and prosecute any security officers brutalizing citizens during this period. Equally, we call on citizens to respect security officers; refrain from brutalizing them as well full comply with safety measures announced by authorities.
  • That COVID-19 resources be effectively managed and accounted for to the public. All donations and resources received must be timely communicated to the public, in addition to reports of funds already disbursed for various activities and processes. 
  • That government does more to increase citizens’ confidence in its response efforts. From all indications, the current poor state of the fight against COVID-19 and limited citizens’ compliance with health protocols can be attributed to poor coordination, limited citizens’ active involvement in key processes and limited trust resulting from excesses of some key players. For example, having come in contact with key officials declared positive of the virus, the President of Liberia refused to be self-quarantined, in violation of measures announced by authorities.
  • That the Ministry of Education’s plan to reopen school for 12th graders involve a thorough monitoring component that ensures that schools are abiding by all protocols set out in the plan, including full compliance with safety measures announced by authorities

In conclusion, we wish to reiterate calls for all Liberians and residents to fully respect instructions from authorities to protect themselves and others during this period. We must all observe the social distancing rules, wear face masks, and avoid action (s) that undermine the fight against COVID-19, which cannot be won without collaborative and well-coordinated efforts of all concerned: Government, development partners, citizens, civil society and media and other groups in society.

Thank you.

Signed:

Management

Monday, 08 June 2020 11:15

Joint Press Statement

Written by

Recent media reports and complaints about Bad Labor Practices at Bridge International Academies (BIA) have claimed the attention of the Coalition for Transparency and Accountability in Education (COTAE) and the National Teachers Association of Liberia (NTAL). BIA is a controversial for-profit company and a major actor involved with the outsourcing of public schools under the Liberia Educational Advancement Program (LEAP), formerly Partnership Schools for Liberia (PSL). They have received government funding to run 170 schools as part of LEAP.

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LOCATION

22nd Street, Sinkor
Tubman Boulevard
Monrovia, Liberia
Phone: +231 88 681 8855
Email: info@cental.org.lr
Website: www.cental.org.lr 

 

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