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Education Minister, Two Deputies Confirmed

Professor Dao Ansu Sonii has been confirmed as Minister of Education by the Liberian Senate.

Prof. Sonii was confirmed along with two deputy ministers, Latim Da-thong as Deputy Minister for Administration, and Alton Kesselly as Deputy Minister for Planning.

The three ministers faced confirmation hearings before 13 senators in a session chaired by Sen. Dallas Gueh, head of the Senate Committee on Education, according to an Education Ministry release.

Other senators present during the hearings included Nyonblee Lawrence, Peter Coleman, Milton Teahjay, ConmanyWesseh, Oscar Cooper, Jonathan Kaipay, Varney Sherman, Morris Saytumah, Stephen Zargo, Gbleh-bo Brown, George Tengbeh, and Jim Tornolah.

The release said the senators had few questions for the three nominees, whom they noted had the backgrounds that made them capable of undertaking the task of leading the ministry.

Sen. Morris Saytumah noted that the Ministry of Education nominees “appear to be the best that President Weah has submitted.”

The senators, most of whom come from a teaching background or own schools, pledged to work closely with the ministers to make the education sector a priority.

All three confirmed ministers hail from backgrounds steep in education and academia.

Prof. Sonii is a career educator and an accounting professional who first entered the teaching profession in 1970 after completing high school, going on to be a long-serving staff of the University of Liberia in various capacities for 29 years before retiring as vice president for administration in April 2016.

A senior partner in PKF Liberia, which is part of the PKF International Limited Accounting Company, Prof. Sonii also owns a school in Montserrado County, the D. Ansu Sonii Foundation Academy.

The deputy minister for administration, Da-thong, is the president of Starz College, a private school focused on science and technology. Starz started out in 2009 and graduated its first cohort of B.Sc. students in 2017.

Min. Da-Thong has taught in the U.S., serving in the Raleigh, North Carolina public school system for seven years.

He is also a co-chair of the boards of the Liberian Institute of Public Administration and the Alexander Cummings Model School of Science and Technology. He has a B.Sc. in Computer Science and a Master in Business Administration.

Kesselly, the incoming deputy minister for planning, holds a Masters in applied mathematics from the University of Cape Town, a Masters in mathematical science from the African Institute of Mathematical Science in South Africa, and a Masters in astrophysics from the University of Science and Technology of China. Min. Kesselly also holds a B.Sc. in physics from the University of Abuja in Nigeria.

He previously served as the executive director of the Liberia Institute of Science Technology and Engineering.

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