2014: Liberia Recorded Another Educational Fiasco

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The education system of Liberia continues to show signs of decline with students performing poorly in public exams.

Admission to the state-run University of Liberia (UL) has over the years exposed the weak educational system with high school graduates seeking enrollment at the university failing massively in the two recent exams administered by the university.

In August 2013, all 25,000 students that sat the UL entrance and placement examinations failed, sending shockwaves both locally and internationally.

Again, another entrance examination administered last year saw mass failure with Dr. Emmet A. Dennis, President of the University, disclosing that the testing committee of the institution had completed the marking of papers with results showing that only 15, out of 13,000 students that sat the exams successfully passed. “The testing committee and the Faculty Senate will look at the results and make recommendations”, the UL President added.

According to him, the results are no different from those of 2013.

Dr. Dennis said that teachers are partly to blame for the mass failure, adding that there are some students who preferred not to take the entrance exams seriously because their teachers have told them different stories concerning passing “under the table.”

But some of the teachers have said that the result coming from the university is troubling, adding that the government has to properly examine the results being released.

With the ongoing argument, it is believed that the government was doing little or nothing to invest in education where the focus should be on primary education.

WAEC Monrovia Office

The poor performance of students at examinations is not just with the UL entrance, but with students also failing the annual tests administered by the West African Examination Council Exams (WAEC).

For example, the Head of the National Office (HNO) of WAEC in Monrovia, John Y. Gayvolor, Sr. when he released the final results of the exams last year, reported that the results were “appalling.” 

Mr. Gayvolor said only 48 percent of the students passed. Worse yet, he reported that none of the candidates was able to obtain a Division I pass.

Although last year’s WAEC results were delayed due to the Ebola virus disease (EVD) outbreak in the country, Mr. Gayvolor disclosed that of the 27,651 12th graders from 442 schools who sat the tests, the general performance of the candidates was disappointing.

According to him, 442 schools presented candidates for the May/June 2014 Liberia Senior High School Certificate Examination (LSHSCE).

Of a total of 27,651 candidates who sat the exams only 13,349 or 48.26 percent passed.

“Of this number also, 7,485 or 56.07 percent were males, while 5,864 or 43.93 percent were females,” Mr. Gayvolor announced, to the disbelief of his senior staffers and others.

A candidate in the LSHSCE is classified as Division I certificate holder if such candidate passes Mathematics and English Language with credit as well as four other subjects, including at least one Arts subject and one Science subject, for which each student must obtain an aggregate of not more than 24.

Also, a candidate in the LSHSCE is classified as Division II certificate holder if such a candidate passes Mathematics and English Language with credit as well as four other subjects including at least one Science subject and one Arts subject. The student must obtain an aggregate of not more than 36.

As for candidates in Division III certificate holder, such candidates must pass Mathematics and English Language as well as four other subjects, including at least one Science Subject and one Arts subject and must obtain an aggregate of not more than 48.

Regrettably also, Mr. Gayvolor reported that none of the candidates was able to obtain “Division I.”

However, he said five candidates, all male, obtained “Division II”.  Four of them came from a faith-based J.J. Roberts United Methodist High in Montserrado County, and only one candidate, Jackson G. White, came from the Firestone Senior High School in Margibi County.

Junior High Level

As for the Liberia Junior High School Certificate Examination (LJHSCE), Mr. Gayvolor reported that the overall performance of candidates in last year’s examination was “fair.”

That is, about 60 percent of the candidates who sat the examination made a pass. Of the 31,927 candidates who sat the examination, 18,622 or 58.33 percent made a successful pass. 

According to Mr. Gayvolor, this figure comprised 10,527 or 56.53 percent males, and 8, 095 or 43.47 percent females.

WAEC, a non-profit organization, with its headquarters in Accra, Ghana, was established in 1952 after the governments of Ghana (then Gold Coast), Nigeria, Sierra Leone and The Gambia enacted the West African Examinations Council Ordinances in 1951.

Liberia became the fifth member of the Council in 1974. Since that time, the administration of the test in the country has  been marred by a series of improprieties emanating from exams frauds or malpractices resulting to collusion, etc.

The main objectives of the Council are to conduct examinations in the public interest; to award certificates, provided that the certificates did not represent lower standards of attainment than equivalent certificates of examining authorities in the United Kingdom, and other parts of the world.

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