5 Simple Steps to Having a Healthy Pregnancy

If you’ve decided to have a baby, the most important thing is that you care a lot, so that both you and the baby are healthy in the future. Girls who receive proper care and take the right decisions are highly likely to have healthy babies.

Prenatal Care

If you discover you are pregnant, see a doctor as soon as possible to begin receiving prenatal care (care during pregnancy). The sooner you begin receiving medical care, the better the chances that both you and your baby are healthy in the future.

If you can not afford to visit a doctor or pay for the consultation in a clinic for prenatal care, social service organizations exist that can help. Ask your parents, school counselor or another trusted adult to help you find resources in your community.

During the first consultation, the doctor will make a lot of questions, such as date of your last period. In this way, you can calculate how long have you been pregnant and what date you expect your baby.

Doctors estimate the duration of pregnancy in weeks. The due date is estimated, but the majority of babies born between 38 and 42 weeks after the first day of last menstrual period of women, or between 36 and 38 weeks after conception (when the sperm fertilizes the egg). Only a small percentage of women giving birth at the estimated delivery date.

The pregnancy is divided into three phases, or quarters. The first quarter runs from conception to end of week 13. The second is from week 14 to 26. The third, from week 27 until the end of pregnancy.

The doctor will examine you and perform a pelvic exam. The doctor will also order blood tests, urine tests and tests to check for sexually transmitted diseases (STD by its acronym in English), including an HIV test, an increasingly common condition in adolescents. (Because some STDs can cause serious health problems in newborns, it is important to get appropriate treatment to protect the baby.)

The doctor will explain what are the physical and emotional changes that are likely to experience during pregnancy. We also learn to recognize the symptoms of possible problems (complications) during pregnancy. This is essential, because teenagers are at greater risk of crossing certain complications such as anemia or hypertension, and give birth before the expected date (premature labor).

Your doctor will want to start taking prenatal vitamins containing folic acid, calcium and iron away. Your doctor may prescribe vitamins or can recommend a brand you can buy without a prescription. These minerals and vitamins help to ensure the good health of baby and mother, and avoid certain birth defects.

Ideally, you should visit your doctor once a month during the first 28 weeks of pregnancy. Then you should visit every 2 weeks until week 36 and weekly thereafter until delivery. If you have a disease like diabetes, which requires careful monitoring during pregnancy, it is likely that your doctor wants to see you more often.

During consultations, your doctor will monitor your weight, blood pressure and urine, in addition to measuring your belly to go record the baby’s growth. When the baby’s heartbeat can be heard with a special device, the doctor will listen to every time you visit. It is likely that your doctor will also indicate other tests during pregnancy, such as an ultrasound to make sure the baby is in perfect condition.

Also part of prenatal care to attend classes where women who are expecting a baby learning how to have a healthy pregnancy and delivery, as well as what are the basic care for the newborn. It is likely that these classes are conducted in hospitals, medical centers, schools and universities in your area.

If adults can be difficult to talk to your doctor about your own body, this is even more difficult for adolescents. The role of your doctor is to help you enjoy a healthy pregnancy and have a healthy baby… and it is likely that there is nothing that a pregnant woman has not told. So do not be afraid to ask about everything you need to know.

Always be honest when your doctor will ask questions, even if they are embarrassing. Many of the issues that your doctor wants you to cover could affect the health of your baby. Think of your doctor as someone who is not only a resource but also a friend you can trust to talk about what is happening to you.

What changes can you expect in your body

Pregnancy creates many physical changes. Here are some of the most common:

Growth of breasts

The increase in breast size is one of the first signs of pregnancy and the breasts may continue to grow throughout pregnancy. It is possible to increase several sizes of support during the course of pregnancy.

Skin changes

Do not be surprised if people’s comments that your skin looks “glowing” when you’re pregnant: pregnancy produces an increased blood volume, which can make your cheeks are a little more pink than usual. In addition, hormonal changes increase the secretion of the sebaceous glands, so that your skin may look brighter. For the same reason, acne is also common during pregnancy.

Among other changes that pregnancy hormones generated in the skin are yellowish or brownish spots that appear on the face, which are called melasma, and a dark stripe running from the navel to the pubis, which known as linea nigra.

Also, moles or freckles that you had before pregnancy may increase in size or become darker. Even the areola, the area around the nipple becomes darker. Stretch marks may also occur (thin lines of pink or purple) in the abdomen, breasts or thighs.

Except for the darkening of the areola, which is usually permanent, these skin changes will disappear after delivery.

Mood swings

It is very common to experience mood swings during pregnancy. Some girls may suffer from depression during pregnancy or after childbirth. If you have symptoms of depression such as sadness, changes in sleep patterns, desires to hurt yourself or negative feelings about yourself or your life, ask your doctor for advice about starting your treatment.

Pregnancy Discomforts

Pregnancy can cause some unpleasant side effects. Among such disorders, include the following:

  • nausea and vomiting, especially during the first months of pregnancy;
  • leg swelling;
  • varicose veins in the legs and the area around the vaginal opening;
  • hemorrhoids;
  • heartburn and constipation;
  • back pain;
  • fatigue and
  • sleeping problems.

If you suffer from one or more of these side effects, remember that you are not alone. Ask your doctor for advice on how to handle these common problems.

If you are pregnant and have bleeding or pain, contact your doctor right away, even if you decided to terminate your pregnancy.

What you should avoid

If you smoke, drink alcohol or use drugs during pregnancy, both you and your baby are at risk for serious problems.

Alcohol

At present, doctors believe it is not advisable to drink a drop of alcohol during pregnancy. If you drink alcoholic beverages can damage the developing fetus and the baby is at risk for birth defects and mental problems.

Smoke

Smoking during pregnancy carries some of the following risks: the birth of a dead fetus (when a baby dies inside the womb), low birth weight (which increases the possibility that the baby has health problems), infants infants (babies born before 37 weeks) syndrome and sudden infant death (SIDS for its acronym in English). SIDS is the sudden death for no apparent reason, a baby under one year.

Drugs

Illegal drugs such as cocaine or marijuana during pregnancy may cause abortions, premature births and other health problems. In addition, babies can be born with an addiction to certain drugs.

If you have trouble quitting smoking, drinking alcohol or using drugs, ask your doctor to help you. Consult your doctor before taking any medication during pregnancy. This includes medicines sold over the counter, prepared herbal supplements and vitamins.

Unsafe Sex

Talk to your doctor about sex during pregnancy. If your doctor allows you to have sex during pregnancy, you should use a condom to avoid contracting a sexually transmitted disease (STD in English). Because some STDs can cause blindness, pneumonia or meningitis in the newborn, it is important for you to protect yourself and protect the baby.

How to take care during pregnancy

Feeding

Many young people are concerned by the appearance of your body and fear of weight gain during pregnancy. But this is not the time to cut calories or go on a diet because you are feeding two people. Both you and your baby need certain nutrients for the baby to grow properly. If you eat a variety of healthy foods, drink enough water and you reduce the junk food, high fat, help to both you and the baby are healthy and growing.

Doctors generally recommend adding about 300 calories a day to the diet, so as to provide the baby with adequate nutrition growth. According to the weight you had before becoming pregnant, you should gain between 11 and 15 kilos (25 to 35 pounds) during pregnancy, mostly during the last 6 months. Your doctor will advise you about this depending on your particular situation.

Eat more fiber from -25 to 30 grams daily, and drinking enough water can help prevent common problems such as constipation. Fruits and vegetables and whole grain breads, cereals or whole wheat muffins are good sources of fiber.

It is necessary that you avoid some foods and beverages during pregnancy, such as:

  • some types of fish such as swordfish, canned tuna and other fish that may have a high content of mercury (your doctor can help you decide which fish to eat);
  • foods containing raw eggs, such as mousse or salad type “Caesar”;
  • raw meat, fish or just cooked;
  • processed meats such as sausages or cold cuts;
  • Unpasteurized soft cheeses such as feta, brie, blue or goat, and
  • milk, unpasteurized juice or cider.

It is also desirable to limit the consumption of artificial sweeteners and caffeine and artificial sweeteners.

Exercise

Exercising during pregnancy is good for your health when you have no complications with the pregnancy and choose appropriate activities. Doctors generally recommend low-impact activities such as walking, swimming and yoga. In general, you should avoid contact sports and high impact aerobic activities that pose a higher risk of injury. It is also not recommended to do a job that involves heavy lifting for women during pregnancy. Talk to your doctor if you have questions about what kind of exercises are safe for you and your baby.

Sleep

It is important to get plenty of rest during pregnancy. During the first months of pregnancy, trying to acquire the habit of sleeping on your side. As pregnancy progresses, lying on your side, knees bent, will be the most comfortable position. It will facilitate the functioning of the heart, since the baby’s weight will not exert any pressure on the vein that carries blood from the feet and legs back to the heart.

Some doctors specifically recommend that pregnant girls should sleep on his left side. Because some of the major blood vessels are in the right side of the abdomen, lying on the left side helps keep the uterus puts pressure on them. Ask your doctor what your recommendation. In most cases, the trick is to lie on either side, to reduce pressure on the back.

Throughout the pregnancy, but particularly in the later stages, it is likely that you wake up frequently at night to go to the bathroom. While it is important to drink plenty of water during pregnancy, try to drink more during the day instead of night. Go to the bathroom before bed. As the pregnancy progresses, you might be hard to find a comfortable position in bed. You can try placing pillows around and under the stomach, back or legs to feel more comfortable.

Stress can also affect sleep. Perhaps you’re concerned about the health of the baby, birth, or how it will play this new role of mother. All these feelings are normal, but can produce insomnia. Talk to your doctor if you have trouble sleeping during pregnancy.

Emotional Health

It is common for pregnant adolescents experience a variety of emotions such as fear, anger, guilt, confusion and sadness. Maybe you take some time to adjust to the fact that you are having a baby. It means a huge change and it is natural for pregnant teens wonder if they are ready for the responsibilities involved in becoming mothers.

The feelings of a young often depend on how much support received by the baby’s father, his family (and family of the baby’s father) and his friends. The situation of each youth is different. Depending on your situation, you may need to seek more support for people who are not part of your family. It is important to talk with people who can support you, guide you and help you share and sort out your feelings. Your school counselor or nurse can guide you to find the resources offered to help your community.

In some cases, teenage pregnancies and spontaneous abortions have lost the baby. This can be very sad and difficult to overcome for some, but to others it causes a feeling of relief. It is important to talk about these feelings and receive support from friends and family, if this is not possible, go to counselors or teachers.

The school and the future

Some girls plan to raise her baby by themselves. Sometimes grandparents or other family members help them. Some young people choose to deliver her baby for adoption. These difficult decisions involve a great deal of courage and concern for the baby.

Young women who have completed high school will have greater chances of getting a good job and enjoy a more successful life. As far as possible, you should finish high school now instead of trying to go back to school later. Ask your school counselor or a trusted adult that you provide information about what programs and classes offered in the community for pregnant teens.

Some communities have support groups especially devoted to teen parents. In some schools, no childcare. Perhaps a member of your family or a friend can take the baby while you’re at school.

You can learn more about what happens when you mother if you read books, attend classes or consultations reliable websites on parenting. Your pediatrician, your parents, your family members and other adults can guide you when you’re pregnant and when you become a mother.

Cold Sores and Staff Infection

Cold sores are a result of infection with the herpes simplex 1 virus. This is a viral infection that once you have contracted stays in your system for life. The only treatments available are antiviral management, because there is no cure.

A person who suffers from atopic dermatitis should be extremely cautious around anyone with a cold sore. Atopic dermatitis, better known as eczema, is rashes and irritations on the skin caused by any number of environmental allergies. This condition causes very itchy dry patches of skin that can break open and are prone to secondary infection from scratching. Studies have shown that patients with eczema are more likely to carry stash on their skin than those who do not.

The herpes simplex virus can spread rapidly in a person with atomic dermatitis. This can cause an infection known as eczema herpetic. It can spread over the whole body or remain localized in areas of active eczema outbreak. This situation should be monitored very carefully by a medical professional.

Herpes virus is very contagious and the spreading capability increases in the person who has eczema. The virus can spread over the whole body very quickly leaving you open to secondary infections and especially staph. As noted above the eczema carrier is also more apt to have the staph already present on their skin, thus when scratching sores or rashes, the staph can penetrate and make a bad situation even worse.

If you have eczema and been exposed to the herpes simplex virus, it is important that you see your doctor immediately. They may want to start you on an antiviral medication sooner rather than later to ward off a potential outbreak.

Signs that you may be getting a herpiticum outbreak will include blisters, sores within the areas of eczema. These tiny blisters will soon pop and spread the virus at an alarming rate. There is a chance of fatality if not treated properly. You may feel tired or feverish and notice some swelling in the area of the rash.

It is important to note even if you are not overly concerned for yourself, you should be concerned for your family and coworkers. The virus is very contagious and should be treated immediately. Besides early treatment can lessen the severity and duration of your outbreak.

In very severe cases, your doctor may prescribe a bleach bath to kill the bacteria. However, this should never be undertaken without a doctor’s advice as the wrong dilution can cause severe problems. Phototherapy and laser therapy are also alternative therapies that your doctor or dermatologist may consider.

The main thing to remember is prevention is better than cure, use good hand washing practices and keep yourself healthy. When you are run down your immune system becomes compromised and less able to fight off infection and the herpes particles.

Have You Ever Heard of Viral Marketing?

Viral Marketing is the spread of a word from one person to many others on a quick basis similar to a virus by an infected patient to other people surrounding him/her. It’s a new form of informal advertising by passing along a message or making other people aware about a product or a service just by talking about it.

The name viral is derived from the image of a person being infected with the marketing message, then spreading it to friends like a virus. The major difference, however, is that the customer voluntarily sends the message to others.

Viral Marketing messages include ads for goods and services, hyperlinked promotions that take someone immediately to a website, online newsletters and various games. Statistics indicate that 81 percent of recipients who receive a viral marketing message pass it along to another person. Almost 50 percent pass it along to two or more people.

The marketing message can be more deliberate such as when an individual recommends something to a friend. It can also be transmitted passively, when the message is simply attached to an email. Viral Marketing allows a firm to gain rapid product awareness at a low cost.

The main advantage of implementing viral marketing technique is getting fast and effective results by using this technique widely on the Internet. This gives a better exposure to the website as well as its owner and make other people aware of its existence. It also helps in conveying the desired message to a larger audience therefore building a good reputation for both the company/website and the owner.

Another benefit is that the more popularity the website gain, the bigger number of webmasters it will attract who will be willing either in exchanging links or just placing inbound links. This will definitely increase the value of the website by having external links which will ultimately result in improving its page rank with search engines.

The number of visitors to the website will also rise on a regular basis as it gains popularity and search engine ranking. The website owner will really benefit from the high volume targeted traffic that is going to blow his or her website fame and shoot up his or her revenue. Therefore, I can not emphasize more on the importance of viral marketing in boosting the Internet Marketing industry these days.

Blue Marble, a viral marketing company, created a program for Scope mouth wash. Consumers were able to send a customized, animated e-mail – kiss – to their friends. The attached marketing message reinforced the brand message that Scope brings people – kissably close. People who received the e-mail kiss could then forward the message to someone else. Scope’s tracking technology indicated most did forward the message.

The term – viral – may connote the negative image of a computer virus. Consequently, More concern should be shown when offering this program to a certain company. Company leaders may want to find some other term to describe the technique to the general public so that no undue suspicion or fear arises.

SEIS the Tax-Free Investment Opportunity for UK Investors

Enterprise Investment Schemes

An EIS is an investment vehicle that provides funds and capital to small businesses that, due to the tightening of the credit market, cannot otherwise get financing from traditional sources. An EIS is an unquoted company that is not on a stock exchange and is most likely managed by a venture capital firm. These firms manage the investment objectives to protect investors and maximize investment returns. A good firm will have been involved in venture capital investing for a number of years and be able to provide a solid track record of protecting principle and securing returns. Firms operate their EISes differently, some offering investments into single companies while others operate EIS funds in which you could invest into a fund of multiple companies, therefore diversifying your risk.

The benefit of tax protection that EISes offer has resulted in an increased demand among wealthier investors, with EIS being utilized as a strategic tool within their portfolios. The UK government increased tax relief from 20% to 30% and the annual investment amount has been increased from £500,000 to £1,000,000. With the added benefit that the investment is exempt from capital gains tax and inheritance tax, EIS is increasingly the perfect vehicle for certain investors. More and more EISes have become essential within many investment portfolios as an integral tax relief tactic.

Seed Enterprise Investment Schemes

Not quite as large as the EIS, the SEIS provides a similar benefit and experience. The main difference being the investment amount allowed annually which currently stands at a maximum of £100,000, but offers an unprecedented 50% tax relief on the investment’s gains and value. However this 50% is only applicable if the SEIS continues to comply with the SEIS rules and providing the investment is left for a minimum of three years. After three years the investor can sell their stake, incurring no capital gains tax against profit realized. Furthermore, loss relief applies to any losses incurred.

As of 2014, the upfront tax relief for the highest tax bracket investors equates to a 64% tax break and, when combined with a loss relief tax break of a further potential of 22.5%, equates to a total of 86.5% tax relief. The downside tax protection of almost 90% is unprecedented amongst all other investment vehicles and provides significant tactical value to certain investors.

Careful Consideration

As with any investment decision, you need to be careful in your consideration when choosing to use EIS or SEIS for your portfolio. You should be considering these tax relief options in your portfolio after you have exhausted other forms of tax mitigation. The first two that should be utilized are your pension and annual Individual Savings Account (ISA) allowance. These primary tax savings vehicles provide secure investment vehicles; ISAs offer amazing investment flexibility not available through EIS or SEIS. Another option includes VCTs – Venture Capital Trusts – which have similar strategic benefits to EIS or SEIS but are limited to £200,000 per year.

In deciding on further tax mitigation, you need to consider the portion of your portfolio that these tactical investments would make up. Conventional wisdom dictates that you should not put more than 20% of your holdings into risky opportunities, but that 20% could realistically be surpassed with correct use of the right investment vehicles. If you are hedging your portfolio against a known event that will increase your capital gains taxes or inheritance taxes, EIS and SEIS would be a viable way to mitigate those taxes in a given year. In this way you could max out your contributions to these two tactical strategies in order to mitigate the known tax implications from another portion of your investment portfolio. It is these considerations that you should be aware of before deciding on a specific EIS or SEIS company.

Another concern that you should be aware of is the fact that EISes and SEISes are essentially “locked-in” products. You need to be able to leave the investments locked in for a period of at least three years (and in some cases longer) in order to access the tax relief benefits – managers will generally look for an exit in or around year 4, but an exit could realistically take longer and is subject to market conditions. In this way, many EIS and SEIS companies are illiquid and the secondary market for selling EIS/SEIS shares is therefore small. Taking the long view on these investments should be a natural consideration.

Choosing the Right EIS/SEIS

When deciding on the right company to invest for the purpose of tax mitigation, not all EIS/SEIS companies are the same. Choosing a company should not be done on impulse and requires effective due diligence to ensure that their investment philosophy is in line with your own. At the time of consideration, ask all the same questions of the company as you would when investing in any stock. By ensuring the company has a solid and proven track record of investments, open reporting functions that promote transparency and an investment philosophy you agree with, you can feel comfortable with your investment.

By considering an EIS/SEIS investment you are considering an investment option that has a real potential for investment loss. It can be the right option for those looking for a high risk option with an effective tax mitigation strategy as a small portion of their overall portfolio. EIS and SEIS investments can also be an excellent way for investors to dabble in venture capital investing without having to put up too much capital.

For more information please visit: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/the-enterprise-investment-scheme-introduction

https://www.gov.uk/seed-enterprise-investment-scheme-background

Best Cold Sore Treatment – What is A Successful Cold Sore Cure

In this article we will look at a few different types of medicinal remedies that are available and are considered to be the best cold sore treatment that is available today to achieve a cold sore cure.

1. Viroxyn

This is a new approach in helping to treat herpes and does not rely on the patient taking the medicine internally. It has been designed to specifically attack and disrupt the lipid coat of virus and is best described as being a germicide rather than the normal anti-viral treatment. Many say this is the top approach on the market.

As it is a virucide you apply it directly to the lesion and this will then kill the virus. This type of treatment works faster than many of the other types of drugs available which have to work their way through your stomach into the bloodstream and which are then able to deal with the sores and will only interefere with the viruses reproduction which has caused the eruptions in the first place. This is why some call it an effective remedy.

Unlike the other treatments that are available which will interrupt the genetic code of herpes and eventually stop the virus from growing, Viroxyn strips the lipid coating off the virus and then kills it when it comes into contact with an affected area.

2. Zovirax or Acyclovir

This is taken as an episodic treatment and can reduce the severity of the outbreak, as well as shorten its duration and also shorten the time during which the herpes virus is detected on the skin’s surface in a similar way to Viroxyn.

Because it is an episodic treatment it should be taken 5 times a day and can also be used as a suppressive treatment which will help to reduce the number of cold sore outbreaks a person has. If you wish to use it as a suppressive treatment you will need to take 2 tablets 3 or 4 times a day but it is best to speak to your doctor to get the specific dosage in order to treat the cold sores correctly. This medication has it’s own defenders as the best fever blister treatment on the market.

However with Zovirax there are a couple of common side effects which you may suffer from and these are nausea and diarrhea. When you consider a cold sore cure, you must keep in mind the side effects in making an evaluation.

We have provided details on a couple of the best cold sore treatments that available, but it is up to you to research both natural and prescription treatments and use a plan that you feel comfortable with in your search for a herpes cure.

Promoting Literacy in School Libraries in Sierra Leone

INTRODUCTION

The heart of information literacy is contained within definitions used to describe it. Traditionally librarians have given ‘library induction’ or ‘library skills training’ in a limited role. Library users need to know where the catalogue is, what the services are, and most importantly where the enquiry desk is. This is not to reduce the value of traditional library induction, but libraries and information are also changing. The provision of information through a library in a traditional form has gone through radical alterations. Already in most library and information organisations staffs are adjusting their services with the provision of new media and access to information provision within these organisations. Thus librarians are talking about social inclusion, opportunity, life-long learning, information society and self development.

A plethora of definitions for information literacy abound in books, journal papers and the web. Some of these definitions centre on the activities of information literacy i.e. identifying the skills needed for successful literate functioning. Other definitions are based on the perspective of an information literate person i.e. trying to outline the concept of information literacy. Deriving therefore a single definition is a complex process of collecting together a set of ideas as to what might be, should be, or may be considered a part of information literacy. For example Weber and Johnson (2002) defined information literacy as the adoption of appropriate information behaviour to obtain, through whatever channel or medium, information well fitted to information needs, together with critical awareness of the importance of wise and ethical use of information in society. The American Library Association (2003) defined information literacy as a set of skills needed to find, retrieve, analyze, and use information. While CLIP (2004) defined information literacy as knowing when and why one needs information, where to find it, and how to evaluate, use and communicate it in an ethical manner. Succinctly these definitions imply that information literacy requires not only knowledge but also skills in:

• recognising when information is needed;

• resources available

• locating information;

• evaluating information;

• using information;

• ethics and responsibility of use of information;

• how to communicate or share information;

• how to manage information

Given therefore the variety of definitions and implied explanation information literacy is a cluster of abilities that an individual can employ to cope with, and to take advantage of the unprecedented amount of information which surrounds us in our daily life and work.

STRUCTURE OF THE EDUCATION SYSTEM

Sierra Leone’s current educational system is composed of six years of formal primary education, three years of Junior Secondary School (JSS), three years Senior Secondary School (SSS) and four years of tertiary education-6-3-3-4. (The Professor Gbamanja Commission’s Report of 2010 recommended an additional year for SSS to become 6-3-4-4). The official age for primary school pupils is between six and eleven years. All pupils at the end of class six are required to take and pass the National Primary School Examinations designed by the West African Examinations Council (WAEC) to enable them proceed to the secondary school divided into Junior Secondary School(JSS) and Senior Secondary School (SSS). Each part has a final examination: the Basic Education Certificate Examinations (BECE) for the JSS, and the West African Senior Secondary School Certificate Examinations (WASSCE) for SSS, both conducted by WAEC. Successful candidates of WASSCE are admitted to tertiary institutions based on a number of subjects passed (GoSL,1995)

The curriculum of primary schools emphasizes communication competence and the ability to understand and manipulate numbers. At the JSS level, the curriculum is general and comprehensive, encompassing the whole range of knowledge, attitudes and skills in cognitive, affective, and psychomotor domains. The core subjects of English, Mathematics, Science and Social studies are compulsory for all pupils. At the SSS level, the curriculum is determined by its nature (general or specialist), or its particular objectives. Pupils are offered a set of core (compulsory) subjects with optional subjects based on their specialization. Teaching is guided by the teaching syllabuses and influenced by the external examinations that pupils are required to take at the 3/ 4-year course. English is the language of instruction (GoSL,1995).

The countries two universities, three polytechnics, and two teacher training colleges are responsible for the training of teachers in Sierra Leone. The Universities Act of 2004 provides for private universities so that these institutions too could help in the training of teachers. Programs range from the Teacher Certificate offered by the teacher training colleges to the Masters in Education offered by universities. Pre-service certification of teachers is the responsibility of the National Council for Technical, Vocational and Other Academic Awards (NCTVA). There is also an In-service Teacher Training program (Distance Education Program) conducted for teachers in part to reduce the number of untrained and unqualified teachers especially in the rural areas.

LITERACY IN SIERRA LEONE

In Sierra Leone as it is in most parts of the developing world literacy involves one’s ability to read, write and numeracy. It is the ability to function effectively in life contexts. A literate person is associated with the possession of skills and knowledge and how these could be applied within his local environment. For instance a literate person is believed to be able to apply chemical fertilizer to his crops, fill in a loans form, determine proper dosage of medicine, calculate cash cropping cost and profits, glean information from a newspaper, make out a bank deposit slip and understanding instructions and basic human rights.

Literacy is at the heart of the country’s development goals and human rights (World Bank, 2007). Wherever practised literacy activities are part of national and international strategies for improved education, human development and well-being. According to the 2013 United Nations Human Development Index Sierra Leone has a literacy rate of 34 %.Implicitly Sierra Leone is an oral society. And oral societies rely heavily on memory to transmit their values, laws, history, music, and culture whereas the written word allows infinite possibilities for transmission and therefore of active participation in communication. These possibilities are what make the goal of literacy crucial in society.

In academic parlance literacy hinges on the printed word. Most pupils are formally introduced to print when they encounter schoolbook. School teachers in Sierra Leone continue to use textbooks in their teaching activities to convey content area information to pupils. It is no gainsaying that pupils neither maximise their learning potential nor read at levels necessary for understanding the type of materials teachers would like them to use. Thus the performance of pupils at internal and public examinations is disappointing. Further pupils’ continued queries in the library demonstrate that they do not only lack basic awareness of resources available in their different school libraries but also do not understand basic rudiments of how to source information and materials from these institutions. What is more worrisome is that pupils do not use appropriate reading skills and study strategies in learning. There is a dearth of reading culture in schools and this situation cuts across the fabric of society. In view of the current support the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology (MEST) to establish literacy standards in school this situation has proved frustrating as teachers do not know how to better help pupils to achieve this goal. Thus they look up to the school librarians to play a more proactive role.

LITERACY DEMANDS ON SECONDARY SCHOOL PUPILS

In everyday situations school pupils are expected to be able to identify and seek information they need. Providing a variety of reading and writing experiences using varied materials in the school library can help develop pupils’ literacy ability (Roe, Stoodt-Hill and Burns, 2004). The mode of assessment in schools in Sierra Leone includes class exercises, tests, written and practical assignments, as well as written examinations to see pupils through to their next levels. These pupils, for example, need to read content books and supplementary materials in school for homework. Pupils have even more literacy needs in their activities outside school. They need to read signs found in their communities, job applications, road maps and signs, labels on food and medicine, newspapers, public notices, bank statements, bills and many other functional materials. Failure to read and understand these materials can result in their committing traffic violations, having unpleasant reactions to food or medicine, becoming lost, losing employment opportunities and missing desirable programs. Equally so pupils need to write to their relatives and loved ones, instructions to people who are doing things for them, notes to themselves about tasks to be completed, phone messages for colleagues and many other items. Mistakes in these activities can have negative effects on them. Good literacy skills are especially important to pupils who plan to pursue higher education studies. The job market in the country calls for pupils to be literate. For instance most jobs advertised these days require people who have completed their JSS. The fact is that workers need to be able to understand graphic aids, categorized information and skim and scan to locate information. Also the nature of reading in the workplace generally involves locating information for immediate use and inferring information for problem solving. The reading and writing of a variety of documents like memos, manuals, letters, reports and instructions are necessary literacy skills in the workplace.

SCHOOL LIBRARIES IN SIERRA LEONE

School libraries in Sierra Leone are perceived as integral aspect of the county’s educational system. These institutions bring together four major components of the school community: the materials, pupils, teacher and library staff. The main purpose for the establishment of these institutions in schools is to complement the teaching/learning process, if not to support the curriculum. This purpose is achieved in two ways: by providing pupils with the means of finding whatever information they need; and by developing in pupils the habit of using books both for information and for pleasure. Pupils need information to help them with the subjects they learn in school. The textbooks they use and the notes they take in class can be an excellent foundation. They may also be sufficient for revision purposes. But these could not be enough to enable pupils to write good essays of their own or to carry out group projects. School libraries then are expected to complement this effort and therefore are perceived as learning centres.

Pupils need information on subjects not taught in school. School libraries are looked upon as places pupils find information to help them in their school studies and personal development. Through these institutions pupils’ habit of using libraries for life-long education is not only developed but also school libraries could be used to improve pupils’ reading skills. In the school community both pupils and teachers use school libraries for leisure and recreational purpose and for career advancement. The culture of society is also transmitted through use of school libraries. Because of the important role school libraries play in the country’s educational system they are organised in such way that pupils as well as teachers can rely upon them for support in the teaching/learning process. Most of these institutions are managed by either a full-time staff often supervised by a senior teacher. Staffs use varied methods to promote their use including user education.

JUSTIFYING THE LIBRARIAN’S INVOLVEMENT IN PROMOTING LITERACY IN SCHOOL

A pre-requisite for the development of autonomous pupils through flexible resource-based learning approaches is that pupils master a set of skills which gradually enable them to take control of their own learning. Current emphasis in teaching in schools in Sierra Leone has shifted from “teacher-centred” to “pupil-centred” approach thereby making pupils to “learn how to learn” for themselves so that the integration of process skills into the design of the school curriculum becomes crucial (GoSL,1995). It is in this area of “learning” or “information literacy” skills that one can most clearly see the inter-relationship between the school curriculum and the school library. For pupils to become independent users of information and for this to occur it is vital that they are given the skills to learn how to find information, how to select what is relevant, and how to use it in the best way possible for their own particular needs and take responsibility for their own learning. As information literate, pupils will be able to manage information skilfully and efficiently in a variety of contexts. They will be capable of weighing information carefully and wisely to determine its quality (Marcum2002). Pupils do recognise that having good information is central to meeting the opportunity and challenges of day-to-day living. They are also aware of the importance of how researching across a variety of sources and formats to locate the best information to meet particular needs.

Literacy activities in schools in Sierra Leone are the responsibility of content area teachers, reading consultants and school librarians. Of these the role of the school librarian is paramount. As specialist the school librarian is expected to provide assistance to pupils and teachers alike by locating materials in different subjects, and at different reading levels by making available materials that can be used for motivation and background reading. The school librarian is also expected to provide pupils with instructions in locating strategies related to the library such as doing online searches and skimming through printed reference materials. The librarian is expected to display printed materials within his purview, write specialised bibliographies and lists of addresses on specific subjects at the request of teachers. He should be able to provide pupils with direct assistance in finding and using appropriate materials; recreational reading can be fostered by the librarian’s book talks or attractive book displays on high-interest topics like HIV/AIDS, child abuse, child rights, human rights and poverty alleviation. In view of this the fundamental qualities expected of the good school librarian include knowledge of his collection and how to access it; ability to understand the needs of his users more so those of pupils; ability to communicate with pupils and adult users; and knowledge of information skills and how to use information.

ROLE OF THE SCHOOL LIBRARIAN

Pupils’ success in school depends to a large extent upon their ability to access, evaluate and use information. Providing access to information and resources is a long-standing responsibility of the school librarian. The school librarian should provide the leadership and expertise necessary to ensure that the library becomes integral in the instructional program of the school. In school the librarian is the information specialist, teacher and instructional consultant. He is the interface responsible for guiding pupils and teachers through the complex information resources housed in his library (Lenox and Walker, 1993). He is looked up to assist and guide numerous users in seeking to use and understand the resources and services of the library. In this respect the school librarian should inculcate in these users such skills as manual and online searching of information; use of equipment; developing critical skills for the organization, evaluation and use of information and ideas as integral part of the curriculum (Lonsdale, 2003). The school librarian should be aware of the range of available information retrieval systems, identify that most suitable to the needs of pupils and provide expertise in helping them become knowledgeable, if not comfortable, in their use. Since no library is self-sufficient the school librarian can network with information agencies, lending/renting materials and/or using electronic devises to transmit information (Tilke, 1998; 2002).

As information specialist the school librarian should be able to share his expertise with those who may wish to know what information sources and/or learning materials are available to support a program of work. Such consultation should be offered to the whole school through the curriculum development committee or to individual subject teachers. The school librarian should take the lead in developing pupils’ information literacy skills by being involved with the school curriculum planning and providing a base of resources to meet its needs. He should be aware of key educational initiatives and their impact in teaching and learning; he should be familiar with teaching methods and learning styles in school; over all he should maintain an overview of information literacy programmes within the school (Herring, 1996; Kuhlthau, 2004).

Kuhlthau (2004) opined that information seeking is a primary activity of life and that pupils seek information to deepen and broaden their understanding of the world around them. When therefore, information in school libraries is placed in a larger context of learning, pupils’ perspective becomes an essential component in information provision. The school librarian should ensure that skills, knowledge and attitude concerning information access, use and communication, are integral part of the school curriculum. Information skills are crucial in the life-long learning process of pupils. As short term objective the school librarian should provide a means of achieving learning objectives within the curriculum; as long term information skills have a direct impact on individual pupils’ ability to deal effectively with a changing environment. Therefore the school librarian should work in concert with teachers and administrators to define the scope and sequence of the information relevant to the school curriculum and ensure its integration throughout the instructional programs (Tilke, 2002; Birks and Hunt, 2003). Pupils should be encouraged to realise their potential as informed citizens who critically think and solve problems. In view of the relationship between the curriculum and school library, the librarian should serve on the curriculum committee ensuring that information access skills are incorporated into subject areas. The school librarian’s involvement in the curriculum development will permit him to provide advice on the use of a variety of instructional strategies such as learning centres and problem-solving software, effective in communicating content to pupils (Herring, 1996; Birks and Hunt, 2003).

Literacy could be actively developed as pupils need access to specific resources, demonstrate understanding of their functionality and effective searching skills. In this regard pupils should be given basic instruction to the library, its facilities and services and subsequent use. Interactive teaching methods aimed at information literacy education should be conducted for the benefit of pupils. Teaching methods could include an outline of a variety of aides like quizzes and worksheets of differing complexity level to actively engage pupils in learning library skills and improving their information literacy. Classes should be divided into small groups so that pupils could have hands-on-experience using library resources. Where Internet services are available in the library online tutorials should be provided. Post session follow-up action will ensure that pupils receive hands-on-experience using library resources. Teaching methods should be constantly evaluated to identify flaws and improve on them.

Further the school librarian should demonstrate willingness to support and value pupils in their use of the library through: provision of readers’ guides; brochures; book marks; library handbooks/guides; computerization of collection; helpful guiding throughout the library; and regular holding of book exhibitions and book fairs. Since there are community radio stations in the country the school librarian could buy air time to report library activities, resources and services. He can also communicate to pupils through update newspapers. Pupils could be encouraged to contribute articles on library development, book reviews and information about opening times and services. The school librarian could help pupils to form book and reading clubs, organize book weeks and book talks using visiting speakers and renowned writers to address pupils. Classes could also be allowed to visit the library to facilitate use. More importantly the school librarian should provide assistance to pupils in the use of technology to access information outside the library. He should offer pupils opportunities related to new technology, use and production of varied media formats, and laws and polices regarding information. In order to build a relevant resource base for the school community the librarian should constantly carry out needs assessment, comparing changing demands to available resources.

The Internet is a vital source for promoting literacy in the school library. The school librarian should ensure that the library has a website that will serve as guide to relevant and authoritative sources and as a tool for learning whereby pupils and teachers are given opportunity to share ideas and solutions (Herring, 2003). Through the Internet pupils can browse the library website to learn how to search and develop information literacy skills. In order for pupils to tap up-to-date sources from the Net the school librarian should constantly update the home page, say on a daily basis, if necessary. Simultaneously the school librarian should avail to pupils and teachers sheets/guides to assist them in carrying out their own independent researches. He should give hands-on-experience training to users to share ideas with others through the formation of “lunch time” or “after school support groups”. Such activities could help pupils to develop ideas and searching information for a class topic and assignment.

Even the location of the library has an impact in promoting literacy in school. The library should be centrally located, close to the maximum number of teaching areas. It should be able to seat at least ten per cent of school pupils at any given time, having a wide range of resources vital for teaching and learning programs offered in school. The library should be characterised by good signage for the benefit of pupil and teacher users with up-to-date displays to enhance the literacy skills of pupils and stimulating their intellectual curiosity.

CONCLUSION

Indeed the promotion of literacy should be integral in the school curriculum and that the librarian should be able to play a leading role to ensure that the skills, knowledge and attitudes related to information access are inculcated in pupils and teachers alike as paramount users of the school library. But the attainment of this goal is dependent on a supportive school administration, always willing and ready to assist the library and its programs financially. To make the librarian more effective he should be given capacity building to meeting the challenges of changing times.

REFERENCES

American Library Association (2003). ‘Introduction to information literacy.’

Birks, J. & Hunt, F. (2003). Hands-on information literacy activities. London: Neal-Schumann.

CLIP (2004).’Information Literacy: definition.’

GoSL (2010). Report of the Professor Gbamanja Commission of Inquiry into the Poor Performance of Pupils in the 2008 BECE and WASSCE Examinations (Unpublished).

___________(1995). New Education policy for Sierra Leone. Freetown: Department of Education.

Herring, James E. (1996). Teaching information skills in schools. London: Library Association Publishing.

__________________ (2003).The Internet and information skills: a guide for teachers and librarians. London: Facet Publishing.

Kahlthau, C. C. (2004). Seeking meaning: a process approach to library and information services. 2nd. ed. London: Libraries Unlimited.

Lenox, M. F. & Walker, M. L.(1993). ‘Information Literacy in the education process.’ The Educational Forum, 52 (2): 312-324.

Lonsdale, Michael (2003). Impact of school libraries on student achievement: a review of research. Camberwell: Australian Council of Educational Research.

Marcum, J. W. (2002). ‘ Rethinking Information Literacy,’ Library Quarterly, 72:1-26.

Roe, Betty D., Stoodt-Hill & Burns, Paul C. (2004).Secondary School Literacy instruction: the content areas. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company.

Tilke, A. (1998). On-the-job sourcebook for school librarians. London: Library Association.

_________ (2002). Managing your school library and information service: a practical handbook. London: Facet Publishing.

Weber, S. & Johnston, B. ( 2002). ‘Assessment in the Information Literate University.’ Conference: Workshop 1st International Conference on IT and Information Literacy, 20th- 22nd. March 2002, Glasgow, Scotland. Parallel Session 3, Thursday 21st March,2002.

World Bank (2007). Education in Sierra Leone; present challenges, future opportunities. Washington,DC: World Bank.

What You Really Need to Know About a MPLS Network

MPLS… or Multi-Protocol Label Switching…. seems to be the buzzword for connecting company data networks these days. But MPLS is really nothing new. It’s been around awhile actually. Maybe now it’s just gaining more popularity and thus noticeable public acceptance and notoriety. Rightfully so too. MPLS offers lots of advantages over traditional T1 point-to-point WAN architectures.

But….. to decide if MPLS is really a good fit for your network requirements….. there’s some things you need to understand first.

There’s no one “MPLS Service”. A lot of what you get will depend how the service provider has Engineered and built their core network. Bear in mind that many carriers don’t own the whole network, but will piece together a service from other carriers networks, or will interconnect with other carriers to extend their reach.

Cell-mode MPLS was mentioned: basically this is ATM which has been retro-fitted with MPLS. Be careful with this for VoIP applications because it can use bandwidth very inefficiently.

MPLS can support QoS, but many services aren’t engineered with this, or only with very basic prioritization. Also the services are very often structured to reduce the potential complexity and to ensure the network can cope. Bear in mind a typical MPLS router can only carry a percentage of “high-priority, real time” traffic. If everyone sends all their data as high priority then the benefit is lost, and the network may suffer. Usually QoS is provided as a small number of service classes, typically 3 or 4.

The biggest bottleneck in any such service is normally the tail circuit to each of your premises. If you move from a T1 mesh to a MPLS service then you will likely find that some sites need more bandwidth than others. Tracking the requirement for this bandwidth is usually your problem, although the service provides may give you some reporting tools to assist with this. I would avoid service providers who cannot offer this as it will make it very difficult for you to manage your bandwidths.

If you factor in multiple service classes then your management of these tail circuits gets more complex as you no only have to work out how much bandwidth is required for each tail circuit, but how much of it should be reserved for each service class.

Regarding resilience, within the service providers core, the service is normally highly resilient to failures. However, when failures do occur, very often (depending on how the service is engineered) the rerouting can take a second or two. During this network re-convergence you will lose packets. Depending on the protocol your traffic uses this can be unimportant or devastating. For instance, some VPN and VoIP services don’t survive this well.

Normally resilience is not automatically provided all the way to the customer. Typically you will have one tail circuit and one router at each site. If either fails (or if the Service provider’s PE router has problems) you will lose service to the site, totally.

If this is an issue, you need to factor in dual connections. There’s multiple ways of doing this, and different service providers will offer different options. Make sure you get your Network Engineer involved as the devil is in the detail here, and some options which sound like they provide a fantastic level of resilience may not be as good as they sound, depending on how your internal network is configured.

And, of course, the key to all of this is SLAs: what do they offer? What happens if they break them? How do they report them to you?

Generally speaking, MPLS services are a great way to run a multi-site data network including VoIP services. I have seen many carriers and their customers doing this successfully for years.

Strictly speaking MPLS does not provide QoS. QoS is done by prioritizing traffic, and most IP routers, even those on the backbone of the Internet, can do this. The difference is whether they are configured to do this or not. In an MPLS network MPLS is provided by standard router features. MPLS technology (specifically Traffic Engineering) gives the carrier better control over how this traffic is prioritized and routed (and restored in case of network fault). All this does is give them the confidence to support SLAs.

As I mentioned, “QoS” is provided as a set of “service classes”. Typically these are things like “real-time”, “high-priority” and “everything else”. Mapping actual traffic into these classes can be done in a few different ways, but this is largely up to you to control. For instance, you could quite easily put web-browsing traffic into “real time” although this would normally be a dumb thing to do.

I would suggest the case for MPLS in terms of performance, cost and continuity against ‘traditional’ or ‘legacy’ data networks is now pretty robust, i.e. MPLS provides significant advantages in all 3 areas.

The key considerations when migrating include provider selection, access media (e.g. using Ethernet rather than SDH/SONET), the decision on procuring a managed or unmanaged service (often called wires-only) and the providers ability to map their CoS/QoS to the applications you need to support. This is especially important if you are operating any proprietary applications.

There is also an increasing trend to use WAN Optimization/application management solutions either as a value added service from the provider or from an alternative integrator or indeed doing it in house. This is important say for voice or applications such as CITRIX.

MPLS providers also now offer a whole suite of value added services such as integrated internet, managed network based firewalls and remote user support. If these are important to you make sure the providers demonstrate how this is achieved.

In selecting your provider ensure they have good geographic coverage in your areas and experience within your market segment. I always recommend requesting up to 3 references. Equally I think it is wise to understand how important a client you will be to the provider. It’s all well and good using the market leader (say according to Gartner)….. but you’ll often get a better service from a provider who values and really wants your business.

Need help designing the right MPLS configuration for your network? There’s a ton of resources….. free and fee….. listed and discussed at Broadband Nation.

Mononucleosis Explained

Mononucleosis is a viral illness that is common among young adults but can affect people of almost any age. Severe sore throat, swollen lymph nodes, fever and extreme fatigue are the recognizable hallmarks of this condition. Why the disease is more common in teens remains unclear. It may have something to do with the lifestyle, poor diet, not enough rest and stress, all of which lowers the resistance of the immune system. The underlying culprit is the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV). This virus, a member of the herpes virus family, is so common that 95% of all adults test positive for exposure to it. The EBV has been implicated as playing a role in some uncommon malignancies later in life or another condition chronic fatigue syndrome. However, keep in mind that the virus is very common. Even though exposed some time in their life by adulthood, most people do not manifest any clinical symptoms of mononucleosis. Viral transmission occurs through intimate contact with saliva or blood of the infected person. Hence, the antiquated name of the “kissing disease”. The virus is not airborne. The risk to others in the family or friends is very low unless there is intimate contact.

Severe sore throat, extreme fatigue, swollen glands and lymph nodes characterize the typical symptoms. The inflammatory process usually affects the liver and spleen resulting in some enlargement. In a small number of severe cases, abdominal pain or difficulty swallowing may be an issue. Twenty percent of people with mono develop a fine red rash resembling measles. Some medications in particular amoxicillin based antibiotics can also trigger the rash. The incubation period from time of exposure to onset ranges from 14 to 45 days. The average illness lasts 4 weeks. The first two weeks are most difficult because of the intensity of the symptoms including a severe sore throat that makes it awkward to maintain an adequate diet. The fatigue makes people want to sleep a lot. People usually miss two weeks of school or work during this time. The second two weeks are usually quite a bit better but energy levels are still waning. Getting up in the morning feeling good and somewhat energetic, but running out of gas after a few hours is characteristic. Some modification of activities with a limited schedule during the second two weeks is to be expected. A specific blood test can confirm the diagnosis in the doctor’s office. An exam to rule out other similar conditions is prudent.

Since it is a viral illness it will run its own course, there is no specific treatment. The majority of cases improve with rest and a balanced diet. In the rare severe case, other medications such as a steroid or an anti-viral drug may be used. There are a few instances when a second bacterial infection such as strep throat may occur at the same time. Appropriate tests can easily determine whether an antibiotic is necessary to treat a secondary infection. Symptomatic treatment is helpful just like treating the flu. Ibuprofen or acetaminophen for fever or muscle aches, plenty of clear liquids and trying to maintain a healthy balanced diet are nonetheless important. Avoiding alcohol for six weeks is suggested while the liver inflammation subsides spontaneously. The biggest frustration for people is simply the lack of energy and fatigue. It can usually take 4 to 6 weeks or more before normal stamina returns.

Legal Protection for Foreign Direct Investments (FDIs) in Nigeria

For healthy and continuous in flow of Foreign Direct Investments (FDIs) to Nigeria, the country has over the years put in place friendly legal framework for Foreign Direct Investments (FDIs) protection.

In this Foreign Investors’ Guidelines for Doing Business in Nigeria Series, we shall be examining the legal mechanisms put in place for the purpose of encouraging an increasing FDIs inflow and ensuring foreign investors’ confidence in the country.

We shall be discussing foreign investors’ protections ranging from certainty of arbitral proceedings and other dispute resolution mechanisms in the country.

The fact with modern economic systems is that no country can be an island economically; Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) protection is very essential to the successful attainment of foreign investors’ business objective(s) and economic development of any economy.

There are steps that host countries can lawfully take in the exercise of their sovereignty and power can lead to depriving foreign investors of reaping the fruits of their investments.

Host government actions that can affect foreign investment adversely includes nationalization; the act of a government taking control of a private enterprise and converting it to state or public ownership.

Expropriation; the act of a government taking possession of or otherwise meddling with privately held assets or property for the use and benefit of the public, or in the public interest.

The legislative and administrative acts of the government as government action can also have adverse effects on foreign investors’ businesses in Nigeria.

This is the indirect or creeping form of expropriation. The only difference is that, it mode of operation shifted attention from the physical and actual taking-over of an investor’s assets to the legislative and administrative acts of the government.

While not depriving a foreign investor of the ownership of an asset in this type of government control, it is capable of significantly reducing the value of properties and investments of the foreign owner.

Foreign investors don’t like investing in country’s with risk such as arbitrary revocation of a license; permit or a concession after the investor has made the requisite investments.

The advancement and expansion of international business relationships and the importance of foreign direct investment to the economic development of Nigeria has made the country to put in place some foreign business protection laws for the purpose of encouraging foreign investors.

Nigeria has performed greatly in providing protections to potential foreign investors.

Investment Treaties

In spite of the provisions of Section 12 of the Nigerian Constitution, investment treaties entered by the country are binding on, and enforceable against Nigeria upon ratification under the principle of ‘pacta sunt servanda’.

Also, by a literal application of Article 31 of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties which provides that a treaty shall be interpreted in good faith in agreement with the ordinary meaning to be given to the terms of the treaty.

Bilateral Investment Treaties (BITs): Nigeria entered into its first Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT) with Germany in 1979 which came into force in 1986.

According to finding from my investigation Nigeria has entered into 28 Bilateral Investment Treaties (BITs) between 1986 and November, 2015.

Of the total number, 13 are currently in force, 14 are signed and 1 repealed. The Bilateral Investment Treaties (BITs) currently in force are the ones entered into with Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Romania, Serbia, Spain, South Korea, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, and United Kingdom.

The 14 BITs which have been signed by Nigeria but are yet to enter into operation were signed as far as back as 1996.

In addition to the usual investment protection standards, these BITs provide that a contracting state shall not damage by irrational or unfair means the maintenance, management, disposal of investment in its territory of nationals or companies of the other Contracting Party.

And the same recompense for losses suffered due to a safety event made to a domestic investor shall be allowed to the investor from the other contracting state.

These BITs also provide for the right of subrogation allowing foreign investors to obtain suitable investment insurance and for these investment insurance providers to seek remedy on their behalf from Nigeria.

The BITs that are presently in force have also made satisfactory requirements for the standard investment protection. These include fair and equitable treatment, umbrella clauses, most favoured nation status, national treatment, obligations against arbitrary and discriminatory measures and security.

Multi-lateral Investment Treaties (MITs): Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) treaty is one of the famous MITs Nigeria have entered. The ECOWAS treaty was signed on 28th May 1975; it came in into force on the 20th June, 1975.

The treaty currently has 15 signatories who are member states of ECOWAS.

Article 2 of the Treaty gives ‘Community Enterprise’ status to businesses whose equity capital is owned by two or more member states, and citizens or institutions of the Community.

Article 16 of the Treaty provides that Community Enterprise shall be accorded favourable treatment with regards to incentives and advantages, and shall not be nationalised or expropriated by the government of any member state except for valid reasons of public interest, and subject to the payment of prompt and adequate compensation.

Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) investment treaty is another MIT Nigeria has entered into in relation with providing favourable conditions for foreign investments in the country.

OIC is a treaty with an Agreement on Promotion, Protection and Guarantee of Investments among Member States of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, which came into force in September, 1986.

Chapter 2 of the Treaty mandates all member states of the Organization of Islamic Countries to provide adequate security and protection to the invested capital of an investor who is a national of another contracting member state.

The terms of protection specifically include the enjoyment of equal treatment, undertaking not to adopt measures that may directly or indirectly affect the ownership of the investor’s capital or investment and not to expropriate any investment except it is in the public interest and on prompt payment of adequate compensation.

Host states are further obligated to guarantee free repatriation of any capital and returns due to an investor.

Conventions to which Nigeria is a Signatory:

The country is signatory to a number of Conventions which have been entered into for the purposes of protecting foreign direct investment.

The most significant convention in this regard is the Convention for the Settlement of Investment Disputes between States and Nationals of Other States (ICSID Convention).

International Centre for the Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) as an arbitral institution under the World Bank Group is a fully integrated, self-contained arbitration institution that provides standard arbitration clauses, arbitration proceedings rules, arrangements for venues, financial arrangements and administrative supporting including the appointment of arbitrators to parties.

Convention for the Settlement of Investment Disputes between States and Nationals of Other States (ICSID) primarily provides for the settlement of investment disputes between investors and sovereign host states.

It has also taken the necessary legislative measures to make the Convention’s resolution effective in Nigeria by enacting it as a domestic legislature in the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (Enforcement of Awards) Decree No. 49 of 1967.

Another significant investment protection convention Nigeria has entered into is the New York Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards.

New York Convention was adopted by the United Nations in June, 1958 and it mandates domestic courts in signatory countries to give effect to arbitration agreements, and to also recognise and enforce valid arbitral awards given in other signatory states.

The New York Convention in other words is particularly significant for the enforcement of arbitral awards resulting from non-ICSID investment arbitration proceedings.

In an attempt to bring into conscious awareness the legal guidelines to undertaking business in Nigeria to intended foreign investors, we shall specifically be reviewing domestic legislations and investment treaties which collectively make up the legal framework for foreign investment protection in the country.

The Domestic Legal Framework:

The notable investment legislation in Nigeria is the Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission Act, CAP N117 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria (“NIPC Act”).

The NIPC Act provides the fundamental and suitable legal framework for the protection of foreign investors in the country. Part 5 of the NIPC Act provides that foreigners may invest and participate in any enterprise in Nigeria.

They are assured unrestricted transfer of funds attributable to the investment such as profits, dividends, payments in respect of loan servicing, and the remittance of proceeds obtained from the sale or liquidation of assets or any interest in the venture through an approved dealer in freely convertible currency.

Section 25 of the NIPC Act clearly provides that no enterprise shall be expropriated or nationalised without prompt payment of compensation; the same section also provides a protection clause to an investor to claim “creeping” expropriation by establishing that the acts complained of indirectly results to expropriation or have expropriatory tendency.

Lastly, the NIPC Act provides that disputes between a foreign investor and any government in Nigeria arising from an investment shall be submitted to arbitration within the framework of any investment treaty entered into between the government of Nigeria and any state of which the foreign investor is a national.

It further provides that where there is a disagreement between the Nigerian government and the foreign investor on the mode of dispute settlement, the dispute shall be submitted to ICSID for arbitration.

Foreign investor is thus at liberty in Nigeria to institute arbitration proceedings against a government even after bringing a claim or counterclaim against the government in a court or domestic arbitration.

Another domestic legislation that provides protection to foreign investors is the Foreign Exchange (Monitoring and Miscellaneous Provisions Act) CAP F34.

Section 15 of this Act provides that any person may invest in any business venture with foreign currency or capital imported into Nigeria through an authorized dealer who will issue a Certificate of Capital Importation to the foreign investor.

Sub-section (4) of the same section in addition guarantees unconditional transferability of funds in freely convertible currency of any such monies arising from an investment made in Nigeria with foreign currency, including dividends and profits, payments in respect of loan servicing, and remittances of the proceeds of sale or liquidation of assets.

A similar provision on repatriation is also found in Section 18 of the Nigeria Export Processing Zones Act, CAPN107 (“NEPZA Act”).

Section 18 of the NEPZA Act provides that foreign investors who invest in outlined businesses within an export zone shall be eligible to remit profits and dividends earned in the zone and repatriate foreign capital investment at any time with capital appreciation of the investments.

Other foreign investors’ protection laws are the Arbitration and Conciliation Act. The act gives foreign investors the opportunity to determine the mode of settling disputes that may arise out of their investments without resort to litigation in domestic (Nigeria) courts.

With the anticipation that such settlement will unfailingly and efficiently protect and enforce the rights of foreign investors and their investments provides a framework for domestic arbitration it also makes provisions for international commercial arbitration which is more preferable by foreign investors.

Section 56(2) (d) defines ‘international arbitration’ to include any arbitration that the parties have expressly agreed in the arbitration agreement to treat as international arbitration. The Act provides that every arbitration award is capable of enforcement under the New York Convention.

Nigeria’s entries into these investment treaties and its enactment of the Conventions into domestic legislation have made the protection mechanism part of Nigeria’s legal framework for protection of Foreign Direct Investments (FDIs) friendly and convenient to actual and potential foreign investors.