Drawing The Big Picture

first_imgFifteen year-old Ruth is very optimistic about school, despite the fact that her mother hardly has any sufficient financial support to assist her with the necessities that can get her through a school day.Every morning, Ruth has to do her daily chores of sweeping her yard, wash dishes and wash a few dirty clothes before finally preparing for school on an empty stomach. By 8:00am, she walks with a few of her schoolmates to the Saint Paul River, twenty minutes from her house. There waiting is an old and unsafe canoe that crosses up to 14 students per trip over to Caldwell, where Ruth attends school.“On a few occasions the canoe ride can be very dangerous, but this is my only means of transportation to school every day. It usually takes me about one hour to cross the river and walk to school every day except when it’s raining, it takes longer. If I mind this one, I will not want to attend school,” Ruth added.‘We Need To Look At Education Again’A recent statement made by the newly appointed Minister of Education, Hon. George K. Werner, during the handing over of a newly constructed school by UNICEF reminds Liberia that ‘education’ should be taken back into account.According to Hon Werner, secondary education in Liberia is ‘doomed’ and because of historic and economical reasons Liberian girls need to be empowered urgently.“The status quo for education in Liberia, particularly secondary school is doomed. We will change that status quo and will do so by forming a broad coalition for students, teachers and the school administrators. We can only do that with the communities, parents, civil society, government officials and our partners support,” he stated.Hon. Werner strongly believes that sustainable change can only occur in the education sector when those who are paid to teach are held accountable for what they are being paid to do.“Parents need to be able to monitor all schools that administer. Students, you need to commit yourselves to quality learning and also hold teachers and administrators accountable for what they are being paid to do for you,” he added.Meanwhile, changing the direction of which education has taken is important. Hon. Werner believes education is there to service the needs of the Liberian community and economy.“If we had a merging economy, you’ll see all of the investments being made,” he added.For now, there are graduates in Ruth’s community who she says have yet to find jobs. Ruth wonders what her future will hold, or if it will hold the same uncertainties as graduates who cannot find jobs.“It feels like some people go to school just to have a paper saying that they went through schooling. But, there’s nothing happening afterwards, after you graduate and its hard continuing school not knowing if you’ll ever get a job afterwards,” she alerted.Hon. Werner, during his statement, addressed Ruth and many who may be posting the same uncertainties during the handover ceremony in the Fofee Town community.“We’re quickly educating our children but they are not finding jobs, which means that there’s something wrong with our education sector. We need to look at education again and not just give them knowledge but the skills they’ll need to work and get a job,” he added.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

Fed move stuns Asian markets

first_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORE11 theater productions to see in Southern California this week, Dec. 27-Jan. 2Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 average has tumbled 7.6 percent since May 8 – after surging 54 percent during the previous 12 months – and Hong Kong’s market is down 8.1 percent since the same date. The Russian market dropped 25 percent from early May through Thursday. Many analysts say the decline is a “correction” – market talk for healthy declines that bring stocks closer to their true values – and not the beginning of a meltdown. “I would say this is part of a global correction triggered by concerns about U.S. inflation and interest rates,” said Shane Oliver, the head of investment strategy at AMP Capital Services in Sydney, Australia. “But I don’t think it’s the start of a bear market.” Some markets had risen too far too fast, said Ben Kwong, chief operating officer of brokerage KGI Asia in Hong Kong. “They were extensively overbought. Any factor that’s going to make investors uneasy will trigger a sell-off,” Kwong said. “Greed and fear are contagious.” NEW DELHI – When the U.S. Federal Reserve raised interest rates two weeks ago – and suggested more hikes might come – stock investors in Asia and emerging markets who had enjoyed spectacular returns over the past year had little clue their ride was about to end. In the following days, metal prices plunged and worries grew about the U.S. dollar’s drop. The confluence of events scared some investors into dumping shares, which in turn made others anxious, prompting them to sell. The result: Stock markets from Japan to Russia tumbled, leaving investors worried if this was a crisis-in-the-making. India’s market has been hard hit. After nearly doubling since April 2005, its benchmark Sensex index has plunged 14.3 percent since reaching an all-time high on May 10 – the same day as the Fed’s move. Few doubt the economic potential of Asia’s dynamic economies, particularly India and China. Amid the turmoil, the Bank of China, the mainland’s second-biggest bank, raised $9.7 billion in an initial public offering in Hong Kong last week, the largest IPO in six years. Russia’s key market index bounced back nearly 5 percent on Friday, in part because steel stocks put in a strong showing, led by Russian giant Severstal whose shares jumped on news of a deal with the world’s No. 2 steel maker Arcelor SA. But while many Asian and emerging markets recovered Friday, analysts warn that the markets will remain volatile for at least awhile. Investors are still worried that the U.S. central bank may keep raising interest rates, slowing the U.S. economy and undermining demand for Asian exports. Continued weakness on Wall Street and in the U.S. dollar, which hurts exporters from emerging markets, are also weighing on sentiment. And prices of commodities such as copper and aluminum, which have fallen after soaring for two years on Chinese demand, remain unsteady. South Korea’s benchmark index, which soared 59 percent in the 12 months prior to May 11, has since tumbled 9.8 percent, while Singapore’s market has dropped 8 percent since May 8. The Bank of Mexico noted that volatility in emerging markets knocked nearly 10 percent off the Mexican stock market’s leading index before it rebounded on Thursday. “There are renewed fears about higher world inflation, and uncertainty has increased as to how the main central banks will react and the impact on economic activity,” Mexico’s central bank said. “The markets have reacted nervously to the information published day-to-day, and risk aversion has increased noticeably.” Another fear resurfaced this week: bird flu. Currency markets were jittery after a World Health Organization report said an Indonesian man died of bird flu after caring for his infected son, raising the possibility of human-to-human transmission of the disease. China’s market, however, has been immune to the regional volatility, largely because foreign investors are restricted from direct dealings in most shares traded on the mainland. The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index is up 37 percent this year. India’s market plunge was exacerbated by short-term investors who had borrowed money to buy stocks, but then were forced to dump them to meet margin calls. If securities bought with borrowed money fall below a certain point, brokerages require investors to either deposit more money or sell some assets to meet the shortfall. Indian Finance Minister P. Chidambaram said the central bank would ensure ample liquidity to help banks to help meet such margin requirements. Also, the stock exchanges agreed to cut margin requirements by almost half. “We must accept the fact that markets will rise and markets will fall in response to developments,” Chidambaram told parliament on Tuesday amid criticism from lawmakers that the government was doing little to shield small investors from the brunt of the stock plunge. He attributed the past year’s surge to the economy’s strong growth potential luring foreign investors who have bought close to $15 billion in Indian shares since last April. “The India growth story remains intact,” he argued. India still remains “one of best-performing emerging markets.” Even after the recent slide, India’s Sensex index is still up 15 percent from Jan. 1. Fidelity International, the world’s largest mutual fund company, said in a statement from its Bombay office that such market declines are “not unusual.” “While the Indian equity market may continue to be volatile in the short term, Fidelity remains positive on the long-term growth story,” it said. Meanwhile, many individual investors in India are hurting. Parikshit Soni, a retired government employee in Mumbai, formally known as Bombay, has seen the value of his portfolio drop by hundreds of thousands of rupees (tens of thousands of dollars) in recent days. “I worry about telling my wife about how much we’ve lost,” said Soni, who had planned a vacation with his now-disappeared profits. “I don’t think that’s possible now.”160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img read more