The enthusiasm of thousands of 12th graders was dampened yesterday with the announcement that the WAEC examinations, originally scheduled to begin today and conclude on Friday, is cancelled because test materials have been stolen from their location at the Konola SDA high school campus.
The Ministry of Education said the new dates are from June 27 to July 1.
However, students interviewed by the Daily Observer said they are frustrated because of the “insurmountable problems” facing their education.
“Stolen tests papers?” a student asked, “How did it happen that such important materials can be stolen?” She re-echoed the mantra that Liberia’s education is a mess, and it is unlikely that authorities are doing enough to ensure that the mess is fixed.
“We have had promises for too long and yet we are still unable to fix it (the education system),” a male student, who said he heard the announcement at church yesterday, said in apparent frustration.
Sources reveal that the stolen or leaked subjects include mathematics, physics, and chemistry, adding that there could be more. The test papers were kept at the Konola SDA high school campus in Margibi County. The Ministry of Education said it was burglarized by some unidentified persons.
Although a leak of exam papers is not a phenomenon, many parents told the Daily Observer that they did not believe much was done to protect the test papers, since WAEC and MOE authorities are aware of the potential dangers that come with administering WAEC examinations.
“My son took one week from his job to prepare for his examinations and he was expected to use this week to sit for the exams; now we are starting it all over again, which I think is not fair,” a father said yesterday.
Ms. Kiadii, a student of G. W. Harris high school, said “The leaks show poor management,” and that the responsibility falls on the shoulders of the government.
“It seems to me that the MOE and WAEC Liberia office were not fully prepared for the exam, because I cannot imagine why they allowed such to happen,” she added.
Mr. Thakwe Johnson, principal of Carr’s high school in Caldwell, said, “This negative development shows that WAEC Liberia is handling the process with transparency for they know parents have spent money on their kids, and the kids have prepared to get the exams done.
“Sadly, due to some poor management someone was able to sneak in there and make away with test questions and all we are being told is that the tests are cancelled.”
“Just image, my students are ready to write the exam today; now WAEC is telling us the test is cancelled. What is that? What kind of irresponsible behaviour is that?”
Meanwhile, Mr. J. Maxim Bleetan, Director of Communications at the Ministry of Education (MOE), confirmed the cancellation of the test, restating that it had been rescheduled because copies of test papers were burglarized by some unknown persons at the Konola SDA high school campus in Margibi County.
He said MOE and WAEC regret the embarrassment this may cause parents and students, and called on school authorities to immediately begin regular classes today as investigations into the matter are going on to identify those responsible for the burglary.
However, several parents told the Daily Observer that WAEC Liberia and MOE should hold themselves responsible for this breach of their moral contract with the students and parents.
“What measures are kept in place to protect such important documents?” a parent asked, “Our inability to manage ourselves in this particular case in the wake of a messy education system speaks volumes of our deficiencies in many things.”
Another said, “I think President Sirleaf should set up a team to investigate such ineptitude from people whose duty is to promote discipline because the young people will definitely lose trust in people who have failed them this time.”
A group of students told the Daily Observer that it is in bad taste for the MOE and WAEC to show such irresponsible management of an important arrangement they had all the time needed to handle.
“The 9th grade examination did not start as planned because of poor management of materials to testing centers last week, and I remember Mr. John Gayvolor, head of WAEC, talking about mechanisms that have been put in place to avoid the delay happening again,” a student said.
In that report, published in Daily Observer’s Friday, May 20, 2016 edition, Mr. Gayvolor said, “We had logistics, traffic and other problems today (Thursday), and so we have been able to take note of these things and can assure the students or the public that (those problems) will not be experienced tomorrow or even during the senior high testing, which is scheduled for next week.”
(Reporters Alvin Worzi and David Yates contributed to this story)