THREE MEDALS FOR ATKINSON Olympic stars Usain Bolt and Elaine Thompson are expected to lead nominations for the 2016 RJR Sports Foundation National Sportsman and Sportswoman of the Year Awards, with the selection committee set to make those announcements today. Bolt, who returned to the island with three gold medals from the Rio 2016 Games after his 100m, 200m and 4x100m success, is the favourite for what would be a record seventh National Sportsman of the Year award, a nod that would make him the joint most successful male recipient and second only to Merlene Ottey in the overall tally. Boxer Michael McCallum has also won seven Sportsman of the Year awards, while Ottey has won a remarkable 13 National Sportswoman of the Year awards. Fellow speedster Elaine Thompson ended the season as the most dominant female sprinter in the world, winning double gold in the 100m and 200m in Rio before helping Jamaica to a silver medal in the 4x100m relay. She also finished the season unbeaten in the 100m and duly won the Diamond Race title in the event. Underlining her class, Thompson registered the three fastest times in 2016 the 100m (10.70, 10.71 and 10.72) and the two fastest times in the 200m (21.78 and 21.85). Other Olympic standouts such as Omar McLeod, the first ever Jamaican gold medal winner in the 110m hurdles and Shericka Jackson, bronze medallist in the 400m, and 100m bronze medal winner Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce are also expected to be named among the nominees for the highly coveted award. Fraser-Pryce was the female recipient of last year’s Sportswoman of the Year award. Swimmer Alia Atkinson, the 2014 female recipient, had a disappointing time in the pool in Rio but bounced back tremendously since leaving Brazil to break the record in the short course 50m breaststroke at the Swimming World Cup stop in Tokyo, Japan, touching the wall at 28.64 seconds, shaving 16th hundredth of a second off the old mark. Atkinson also recently claimed three medals at the FINA Short Course Swimming World Championships in Windsor, Canada, winning gold in the 100m breaststroke, silver in the 50m breaststroke and bronze in the 100m Individual Medley. Track and field has been Jamaica’s most successful sport, and it certainly reflects in the winners of this award, with athletics dominating the National Sportsman and Sportswoman of the Year awards over the years. In its previous 57 stagings, 27 track and field athletes have walked away with top honours among men, with 49 winners among the females. Before Atkinson’s nod in 2014, the last non-track and field connected woman to win the award was Vivalyn Latty-Scott in 1976. 2014 represented a departure of sorts as boxer Nicholas ‘Axeman’ Walters also claimed the male award, making it only the second time in 15 years that a track and field athlete had not won the award. The 2016 RJR National Sportsman and Sportswoman of the Year Awards will take place on January 13, 2017.
President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has mandated her appointed officials starting with the Minister and their deputies at the Ministry of Education (MOE) to return to the classroom and teach the students for at least three months. This, according to the President, is to experience the ‘hardship and headache’ teachers across the country endure in the discharge of their duty. The expected exercise, according to the President, is for her appointees, particularly the ministers and their principal deputies at the MOE and educational areas to feel the adversity (hurt, stings) of teaching in the Liberian schools. The President’s pending mandates, an observer believes, is to inspire (move) her officials into action to defend the plights of teachers, who over the years have been protesting and or staging series of demonstrations for salaries and other benefits. At the same time, President Sirleaf has said, she would direct authorities of the University of Liberia to allow graduating seniors from the William V.S. Tubman Teachers’ College to go into the field and teach in the classrooms for at least a semester before they can be qualified for graduation. “If we can allow Peace Corps Volunteers and the ‘Volunteer Teachers’ from the West African State of Nigeria to be assigned in the rural areas, we too should send young graduating seniors to go with the foreign instructors into the classrooms before they are allowed to graduate.” President Sirleaf made the suggestion over the weekend when the Minister of Education, Etmonia David-Tarpeh presented the MOE’s (2014-2016) ‘Operational Plan.’ The ceremony was held at the Monrovia City Hall on Saturday, May 24, on the theme, “Quality Education for All: Redirecting Our Future.” The three-year ‘Operational Plan’ is being launched with the vision to ensure quality, relevant, accessible, and affordable education for all. The cost of implementation within the three-year period is US$180 million, while the cost for implementation for the first year (2014) is around US$59 million. Funding for the Plan is expected to come from the government and development partners, including the public-private partnership. The mission is to also ensure quality, relevant, accessible, and affordable education by establishing appropriate legal and regulatory framework through the development of education systems, policies guidelines, procedures and standards. To also promote, good governance practices among actors by coordinating all education programs and activities within the country’s borders; linking education programs to economic and development needs of the population; and promoting public-private partnerships within the sector. Before presenting the plan to President Sirleaf, Minister Tarpeh explained among other things that the 3-year ‘Operational Plan’ is based on several documents including the Education Reform Law of 2011, Education Sector Plan (2010-2020), Roadmap for System Transformation, National Agenda for Transformation, among others. She said the plan highlights priorities identified by education stakeholders at several consultative meetings including the National Education Roundtable Conference, 2013 and the Joint Education Sector Review taking account of clear messages that there is a need to reform the education sector and other emerging trends within the system. Additionally, it serves as a catalyst (means, channel) to accelerate the “Education for All Goals.”“It is underpinned by the principles of ownership and accountability that the Plan also proposes a range of strategies and activities for improving the quality of education services to ensure that young people within the country’s borders are fully prepared for a favorable livelihood in a changing regional and global environment.” This Plan covers areas such like the Early Childhood Development/Education, Basic and Secondary Education, Teacher Education, Student Personnel Services, Technical and Vocational Education Training (TVET), Education Governance and Management.Saturday’s launch brought together an array of government officials, legislators and members of the diplomatic community among them U.S. Ambassador to Liberia, Madam Deborah Malac. Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)