Education Minister George Werner says the Public Private Partnership (PPP) that the government is bringing to the education system is to ensure that there are qualified teachers in every classroom to educate Liberians of school going age.Defending the PPP arrangement with the Ministry of Education, he told students at the UL campus recently that the Ministry spends US$40 million a year, of which US$38 million goes to salaries.“A greater portion of this salary goes to ghost names and the government does not have the money to continue on such a path,” he said.Minister Werner said the government’s action is to get the private sector involved in helping government to monitor and take responsibility to ensure that the resources are used for the right people.He noted that students need education that will prepare them to contribute to the economy, to revive the country’s education and the economy. Minister Werner warned that if changes being developed by the government are not welcomed, those against the changes should know that with the current educational structure, their future would be at stake and unsecured.He explained that there are 1.5 million Liberian kids in the various private and public schools in places such as Grand Kru and other parts of the interior that need to be monitored.Minister Werner regretted the poor quality of teachers and the gender disparity and inequality that is prevalent, and needed to be fixed.He said the PPP arrangement does not mean that a private institution is taking over the Liberian educational system.“There are more private schools in the country and we see no reason to privatize public schools,” Minister Werner said. He reechoed the Ministry’s position that without the partnership, Liberia stands to fail to make positive changes to turn around the mess that Liberia’s education has suffered.The government of Liberia is introducing a PPP agreement that will allow a private institution to take full responsibility for payment of teachers of schools that will fall under it, and to carry out all necessary maintenance work and provide learning materials.The PPP arrangement has been criticized by some school administrators, but it is strongly supported by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. Teachers threatening not to go along with the decision have also been threatened by the President with dismissal for refusing a test to determine their qualification.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)
Three in Four Americans Still Fear Fully Automated CarsKonami will continue to develop AAA console games Stay on target I’ve never liked using the term “AAA” to describe top-tier video games. It sounds too much like a credit rating or a car insurance company, and “blockbuster” is a way more effective, commonly used phrase that gets the same idea across. But the industry felt otherwise. AAA the term and the games are more prominent than they have ever been. Forgot packed holidays or summer doldrums; AAA games come out no matter what time it is.There are so many AAA games now that it may be useful to find new ways to categorize them, and not just by genres like a racing game or first-person shooter. I’ve been thinking about an artistic trend in some of our biggest video games, and I’d like to propose a corny new term for this subcategory: AAArtisanal games.But first, a little context. The concept of AAA comes from the idea there’s a plurality of video games operating at different scales. Like B-movies, the middle class, and other things that no longer exist, there were once games from major publishers and developers that weren’t as huge as Call of Duty but certainly not as small as an indie classic like Cave Story. Arguably most games were at that level. Their modest scale and budget allowed them to made by faster and experiment with more niche ideas without fear of financial failure. AAA games were the expensive tentpole exceptions trying to appeal to the widest possible audience.Unfortunately, B-games were slowly but surely squeezed out of the market. Production costs rose in the HD era and shifting consumer taste demanded more of the biggest and shiniest games possible. Midway and THQ, stalwarts of the “7 out of 10” game, collapsed. For a time those games, especially the Japanese ones, could survive on less powerful platforms like the PS2, the Wii, and handhelds. But unless the Nintendo Switch is a smash success (which I hope is the case) that’s a shrinking ghetto. So what we are left with are gigantic and risk-averse AAA games, casual mobile games, and increasingly sophisticated indie download-only games moving into the spots B-games once filled. Rocket League is the new Blitz: The League. Octodad: Dadliest Catch is the new Destroy All Humans.So that’s where we are now. AAA games like Assassin’s Creed, Skyrim, Battlefield, and Destiny dominate the output from the major games publishers. Then what defines an AAArtisanal game? To me, an AAArtisanal game isn’t an indie story-focused game like Firewatch or Journey, but a AAA game that uses some of those same techniques to add artistic gravitas to itself. Art games have certainly existed since the dawn of the medium, but I’m talking about games that chase BioShock or Shadow of the Colossus or Half-Life 2. These are unabashedly big game products that also want to prove to the Roger Eberts of the world they are worthwhile game works of art as well. These are games that let players cause tons of fun explosions but then ask them, “What does it all mean?” I must stress this is only a style, not an indicator of quality one way or another.I’m talking about games like Spec Ops: The Line, Grand Theft Auto IV, Red Dead Redemption, Metroid Other M, Modern Warfare 2’s “No Russian” level, the M-rated game based on famous children’s character Batman, and whatever David Cage seems to think he’s making. It’s every game trailer that pairs over-the-top destruction with a sad pop song cover.AAArtisanal encompasses both tone and design. After three games of Indiana Jones-esque romps, look at how a game like Uncharted 4 became more somber and added dialogue choices to enrich the artistry of its character interactions. This is a technique used by AAA hits like Mass Effect and Fallout, but I’d also argue its successful artistic use in smaller Telltale adventures and even Twine games is also influencing this trend in the rest of AAA. Meanwhile, there’s no better, classier way to convey story in your shooter than to embed it in the environment like it’s one of those “Gone Home walking simulators.”AAArtisanal is also a great way to reboot your tired, ridiculous franchise into something more outwardly respectable and deserving of its inherited AAA status. Give your flat character family issues or something, treat the violence more realistically, consider dropping the number, and you’ve got instant maturity. It worked for Tomb Raider, it worked for Prince of Persia, it worked for Gears of War, and we’ll see if it will work for sad dad God of War. But this doesn’t benefit every reboot. The smartest thing the new Doom did was buck this trend. I’m also not counting the new Deus Ex because stabs at intelligence have always been part of the series.To make a movie comparison, AAArtisanal to me is like a big studio trying to siphon off some prestige from their indie imprint. It’s like how without middle-tier movies, promising indie directors like Josh Trank and Colin Trevorrow and David Lowery are suddenly being handed the keys to massive franchise films.In movies and in games, sometimes that works and sometimes it doesn’t. GTA IV is the most serious GTA, and to me, it’s also the most thematically interesting. Meanwhile, Rise of the Tomb Raider is less pretentious than its predecessor, and that’s an improvement. Everyone loves The Last Of Us’s soulful take on tired zombie apocalypse tropes, but if you don’t enjoy actually playing it at what point does its desire to be art hurt it as a game? Either choice is valid. Just look at the fascinating but mechanically antagonistic No More Heroes versus its more playable but dumber sequel. But it is a choice that must be recognized, especially in AAArtisanal games.You’ll notice the vast majority of games I’ve mentioned so far come from the West. The death of B-games had a far bigger impact on Japanese studios struggling to keep up with new standards. But also the desire to be taken seriously as art is a bigger hang-up for Western developers in my opinion. It’s not that Japanese games and their remaining weird auteurs don’t have anything artistic to say. But rather a game like Metal Gear Solid V is perfectly comfortable pairing its dead-serious messages with the utter absurdity inherent to video games. To use a dreaded buzzword, they don’t care as much about ludonarrative dissonance. I also think the Polish roots of The Witcher series allow it to exist outside of this paradigm, but aside from seeing their critical acclaim, I’m not familiar enough with those games to make a judgment.AAArtisanal games is an awkward phrase to describe an awkward phase for some of the biggest video games. Like any creative work, big games want to say something, but the myriad of market forces they ultimately serve mean they can only say so much. You can’t control your message as completely and succinctly as something like The Beginner’s Guide or Depression Quest when you also have to see 20 million copies to Wal-Mart with a dude holding a gun on the cover. However, if a AAA game like Mafia III, with its extremely explicit racial themes, can succeed despite cultural resistance (and, to be fair, technical flaws), then there’s hope for continued future artistic evolution.Meanwhile, I’ll keep enjoying the highs, lows, and hilarious incongruities only AAArtisanal games can provide. Press X to pay respects.