Scores of students in their sixth day of writing the West African Senior School Certificate Examinations (WASSCE) on Wednesday, April 9, have blamed government for their poor performance.
The saddened students at the William V.S. Tubman High School in Monrovia were spoken for by their president, Samuel Zah of 12-3 class.
They claimed this was due to government’s failure to construct and or equip laboratories around the country for use by senior high students.
Surrounded by several of his colleagues — who were seen looking gloomy in expectance of poor results for the Physics portion of the exams — Samuel attributed the students’ lackluster performance to several factors he claimed hampered their ability to prepare for the exams.
Some of the factors, he said, were students’ inability to comprehend (grasp) the test questions relative to practical laboratory experimentation.
“Unlike other high school students, those (students) at Tubman High had no idea on several of the exam’s questions. This is because some of the books being used here are outdated. As a result, the students were left with no other alternative but to write what they could and finish the test,” Mr. Zah complained.
“Despite all the difficulties we experienced from our lack of laboratory facilities, coupled with the ‘no teacher syndrome’, we Tubman High students are somewhat hopeful since we believe in the works of God, the Almighty,” he declared.
onrovia Consolidated School System (MCSS) Superintendent, A. Benjamin Jacobs, agreed with the students concerning the dire need for equipped laboratories and trained instructors. He added that it is the responsibility of the MOE’s authorities to provide learning institutions with the requisite environment, which includes buildings and well-equipped laboratories.
“We are not prepared to write the WASSCE head-on; this is taking place while we are piloting the WASSCE with the countries that have previously been writing the exams,” he explained.
He, too, was hopeful that some of the students would make a successful pass upon completion of the exams.
On April 3, almost immediately after the 5,034 students began writing the WASSCE, complaints about the process of writing the test, which they claimed was characterized by difficulties, began to surface.
The students’ qualms were owing to what they claimed were inadequate preparations at the various laboratories and libraries at their respective schools.
For example, at the Paynesville Community High School (PCS), in the Voker Mission vicinity, the 342 students who sat the test were embittered after they observed that practical questions in Physics were incomprehensible to them due to “poor laboratory preparation.”
The Physics, which is being written on the code number 512, was the only Science test administered to students across the 44 testing centers.
The WASSCE began on Thursday April 3, and is being administered to 47 schools by the West African Examination Council (WAEC) office in Montserrado, Margibi and Grand Bassa Counties.
The students complained that though the laboratory was constructed, it was done without proper materials or teaching staff to conduct the lab preparation.
PCS Principal Alphonso Kanboh, agreed with the students’ complaints when he told the Daily Observer, “Our challenges are enormous in the school. Our lack of an equipped laboratory combined with irregularly attended classes by the students themselves all add to the problems.”
Kanboh said the school is in need of laboratory materials for the students to do their practical exercises, or else they would be unprepared for the WASSCE.
Like MCSS Supt. Jacobs, Principal Kanboh did not give up his hopes of the students passing the test. He predicted that the result may fall between 50-60 percent in favor of the student populace.
The Head of the National Office (HNO) of the WAEC in Monrovia, John Y. Gayvolor, Sr., who toured the various testing centers, has reportedly spoken about similar problems regarding students unpreparedness for WASSCE due to lack of laboratory specimens.
He, however, urged the students to remain focused and persevere until the end of the tests.
Subjects the students are writing throughout the course of the tests include English Language, which will be written in three different parts that include objective and essay questions.