The Ministry of Education’s (MOE) Deputy Edudation Minister for Instruction, Hawa Goll-Kotchi, says it has unearthed a new and highly practiced act of corruption that has slowly crept into the Liberian school system.
The new practice, according to the Deputy Minister, is being dubbed “bread and butter.” This act involves students delivering test or assignment papers to the teachers that contain money.
The practice of “bread and butter” was designed by corrupt instructors as a systematic form of coercion aimed at taking money from students for grades. This is being done in place of actual teaching.
These “teachers” are also reportedly taking other illegal fees from the students. This abuse of authority is being perpetrated by “teachers” who don’t have the Liberian school system at heart.
Madam Kotchi has frowned on those reportedly involved to desist; as such practices tend to undermine the educational system. These acts also expose students to corruption that influences their behavior once they become part of greater society upon leaving school.
Deputy Minister Kotchi made the revelation last Wednesday in her position as government’s Chief Nominee to WAEC during the entity’s second consultative meetings on the successful conduct of the West African Senior School Certificate Examinations (WASSCE) in Liberia.
The meeting was conducted by the Monrovia office of the West African Examinations Council (WAEC) to give updates from the entity’s Head of National Office in Monrovia, John Y. Gayvolor, Sr., and from principals and administrators of the various senior high schools in the country.
The update meeting was attended by WAEC officials, principals and administrators of the various privately-owned and faith-based institutions.
At the meeting, Mr. Gayvolor expressed particular concern over Liberian students’ performances at the writing of the WASSCE where they would have to meet the WAEC distinction of at least first or second divisions.
He said that Liberia’s education sector has improved in respect to writing the WASSCE; and voiced the hope that trend would continue.
“However,” he explained, “for students to succeed at writing the WASSCE, it was necessary for all stakeholders to work together with the goal of strategizing to find the best way forward.”
Meanwhile, in her position as government Chief Nominee to WAEC, Madam Kotchi called on school authorities to encourage instructors to conduct tutorial classes for students preparing to sit the WAEC or WASSEC.
“You could organize tutorial classes to help our students and even some of the teachers themselves; because the syllabuses can be complex. You can collect a minimum amount for the tutorial classes, because we want the best out of our students and school system,” Mrs. Kotchi urged.
She however called on school administrators whose students are posed to write the WASSCE to upgrade their teachers’ skills while they conduct tutorial classes to prepare for those taking exams.
She then stressed the need for all schools across the country, especially those privately-owned; to better equip their laboratories and libraries in accordance with government’s quest for better educational facilities for students.
In a related development, the Monrovia office of WAEC, said it had up to date, registered at least 1,205 students to sit this year’s WASSCE.
Each of the registered students, who represented six of the multitude of schools across Montserrado County, had paid a fee of US$75 to sit the test. The amount from the students summed up to US$90,375.
The registered students are all from various privately-owned and faith-based institutions in and around Monrovia.
Principals and school administrators in the leeward counties are yet to report on any progress they have made in respect to candidates who would write the test.
The exam is scheduled for May/June each year, but this year, Liberian students will sit for it in April, the WAEC Monrovia National Office confirmed at the meeting.
All students from both private and public schools are allowed to write the WASSCE, which is also known by its old name–the General Certificate Examinations (GCE).
However, there are rules and regulations that apply to every candidate. This examination is made for all private and public schools in West Africa through the compulsory subject areas of English Language and Mathematics with electives of the sciences that include Biology, Physics, and Chemistry.