A professor at the University of Liberia has attributed the continued mass failure of Liberian students in school and public examinations to a number of reasons.
Professor Marcus Sokpah, once Assistant Minister for Curriculum Development at the Ministry of Education and currently serving as Chairman of the Department of English at UL, underscored the lack of trained and motivated teachers, textbooks, and attractive salaries and incentives as some of the causes of the dilemma.
Additionally, Prof. Sokpah noted that the curriculum used in Liberia has not been revised and many teachers today lack the training and methods of teaching, thereby misleading students.
He emphasized that students are also full of excuses and unwilling to learn, even at the university level, while the explosion of schools by individuals and churches is also contributing to Liberia’s education woes.
Considering each point at a time, Prof. Sokpah said, “Let’s look at the curriculum for instance. If you are teaching English, Mathematics, Science and any other subject for that matter, what are we teaching? Are we teaching with adequate materials, or does the curriculum have the requisite materials for teachers to use?”
“What facility in terms of seating arrangement do we have? What support is given teacher training institutions in this country and teachers graduating from there? Are they employed?”
During his school days, the Prof. said there were bookstores and libraries where they used to buy and read books, unlike today when both textbooks and libraries are lacking.
Prof. Sokpah also noted that the lack of supervision in the education system has led to a proliferation of schools established by churches and individuals that lack certification.
The proliferation of schools, the UL professor said, has led to hiring people who are not teachers, consequently increasing the challenges and making the system lukewarm.
He reasoned that no one person or institution can be blamed for the spoiled system but every Liberian ranging from institutions to teachers, administrations, government, students and parents.
Prof. Sokpah suggested that in order to turn things around for the better every Liberian and institution must play its role in an honest manner, using the country as the common denominator.
“It is not about blaming one person or institution. We need to overhaul the system by playing our respective roles. Let students work vigorously; teachers evaluate and present well; government provide the needed materials and motivation; and schools be properly supervised,” Prof. Sokpah emphasized.
It may be recalled that in the 2012 University of Liberia placement entrance examination, all 25,000 candidates failed. Also, in this year’s West African Examination, over 50% of the candidates failed.