John Y. Gayvolor, Head of the West African Examination Council (WAEC) National Office in Liberia, says the 15 years of civil war retarded educational development in the country.
Gayvolor spoke to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on the sideline of the recently concluded Registrar’s Staff Appraisal Committee meeting of the council, held in Accra, Ghana.
NAN reports that the meeting, which was chaired by the Registrar of West African Examinations Council, Dr. Iyi Uwadiae, had all the Heads of National Offices of the five member countries in attendance, except that of The Gambia.
It also reports that the first Liberian civil war was fought between 1989 and 1996; while the second one was between 1999 and 2003.
According to the Liberian HNO, the war left in its wake, challenges in various sectors of the country’s economy, with education being the worst hit.
He listed such challenges to include: poor logistics for the conduct of public examinations, inadequate financing, manpower and poor attitudes of students to studies, while examination malpractices are worrisome.
Gayvolor said, “This year has proved to be one of the most challenging in recent history, especially in the aspect of conducting examinations. As we speak, out exams are administered during the peak of the rainy season. What this means is that moving around will often require logistics, especially, to pull out our vehicles that may get stuck in the mud while taking the examination materials to various centers.
Also, we have the issue of inadequate teachers and where they are available they are poorly trained, coupled with inadequate infrastructure.
The quest for quick money is high. We have few good teachers but because of the 15 years of civil crisis, most of them had left for greener pastures. Now, people in the classrooms who are calling themselves teachers are, indeed, not trained as they are more interested in making quick money by commercializing education.”
According to Gayvolor, these teachers usually set tests for students, and in exchange for money, award grades that the students do not deserve.
He added that with such development, whenever the students were exposed to external examinations, the performance was usually poor.
He said: “It is not that they do not have the abilities but because they lack focus and are often attracted to irrelevant things.”
Gayvolor emphasized the need for all stakeholders to be involved in turning the trend around.
He called on the parents to live up to their responsibilities by ensuring that the right thing is done, especially by inculcating moral values in their children.
Gayvolor stated: “Parents should stop giving money to their children in order to buy grades, and that school authorities must also ensure that teaching is carried out as designed by the Ministry of Education (MOE). The ministry must monitor and ensure that recommended texts are used, qualified teachers are recruited and motivated with good remunerations that will halt the search for greener pastures.”
He also said that infrastructure should be put in place for better teaching and learning activities to thrive.
He told NAN that the country was trying to transit fully to the West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE), adding that all along the students were only exposed to Liberia’s national examination.
He said; “We have just started doing the WASSCE on a pilot basis. This alone is also a challenge to our students who have been used to our national examination only.
“Our national examination will be phased out gradually by 2018,” adding, “by the end of 2018, all candidates in Liberia will be taking only the international examination, which is WASSCE, at the senior level.” (Source: News Agency of Nigeria).