"Education is the foundation for the building of any state," Mr. Doss declared as he and Dr. Korto presented books and educational materials to some of the senior high school students who were taking the WAEC examinations. He noted that many of the students were girls and called for a further increase in enrollment of girls in school. To applause from students, teachers and other local officials, the UN Envoy pledged UNMIL's funding for the re-roofing and renovation of war-damaged classroom blocks.
For his part, the Education Minister, Dr. Korto, assured the students and people of Sinoe that serious efforts were being undertaken by the Government to further improve education nationwide. He told the students that his ministry will be offering scholarships to graduates interested in pursuing the sciences because Liberia needed a lot of science graduates.
Still in Sinoe, Mr. Doss also visited the village of Deedo, a small community on the border of the Sinoe Rubber Plantation where, during a "palava hut meeting", community leaders expressed their concerns over the lack of schools, clinics and roads. Representatives of the community also spoke out strongly requesting UNMIL's assistance for reviving the rubber industry in the County, to generate jobs and help rebuild the necessary infrastructure in the area.
Addressing the community leaders and a representative group of residents from Deedo, Special Representative Doss acknowledged the concerns and considerable challenges faced by the local people. All of them called strongly for UNMIL to assist the Government in taking over the nearby Sinoe Rubber Plantation to quickly revive the rubber industry in the County and generate more jobs.
He reassured them that UNMIL would continue to provide security in the area and help to rehabilitate the road leading to the rubber plantation as soon as the rains abated. UNMIL would also look into the issue of ex-combatants who were yet to benefit from the Reintegration and Rehabilitation programme. However, the SRSG cautioned the residents to be patient because development could only take place when there was peace. He therefore urged them to avoid violence as a means of settling differences.
Also present with the delegation were other senior UNMIL and government officials, including UNMIL's Chief of Civil Affairs, Mrs. Zainab Bangura.