The head of the Monrovia office of the West African Examinations Council (WAEC), Dale G. Gbotoe, has criticized school administrators who are calling for the 2018 WASSCE exams to be postponed, arguing that most schools in the country don’t have adequately equipped science laboratories to prepare students to pass the exams.
The concerned school administrators over the last few days have started to express fear that the lack of science labs in many schools means that there will be a rise in the number of students who will fail the exams especially in Chemistry, biology and Physics.
But Gbotoe debunked the argument by terming it as laziness which he said does not mean well for Liberia’s education system.
“In WASSCE, there is no failure. Every student has a success story. In fact, WASSCE is easier than WAEC and all of the questions are drawn directly from the national curriculum.
“When a student takes WASSCE and fails in English and two other subjects, he or she still receives a certificate for the other subjects passed. That would be considered as a failure in WAEC. This is good news. In addition, students answer fewer test questions on WASSCE than WAEC and are allocated enough time just to answer those questions. The benefit here is that they are not taking the test under stress anymore and are relaxed, unlike past exams, where such conditions did not prevail,” Gbotoe explained.
He added, however, that WASSCE will force school owners to start building laboratories in their schools, “because they are making good money from students and yet they are depriving them of their rights.”
Gbotoe said: “It is not our fault that they don’t have labs. They have been aware that WASSCE will be officially administered next year, but they sat down idle and did nothing and now they are calling for postponement. Because of their previous appeals, we have over the years postponed the test, giving them enough opportunity to prepare the students, but they did not.
“These school principals are instilling fear in the students about not being up to the task for the WASSCE Examination, which is wrong. There is no difference between past and present tests. They are the same,” he said, adding that the lab section of the exam will be based on essays, instead of practical lab work, to make up for the lack of laboratories in most schools in Liberia.
According to Gbotoe, WASSCE was introduced to the region over a decade ago but the country has been asking for time to get prepared; and this year, WAEC authorities gave them an ultimatum: ‘Either join the other countries or be on your own.’
“I think it is about time that Liberia mustered the courage to join its counterparts to take such a test. This is a sub-regional exam unlike the past, which was a national exam. I agree that we have difficulties, but other countries have the same difficulties as well, yet they are taking the test. Right now, it is preferable that we take a sub-regional exam over a national one,” he added.
Meanwhile, Gbotoe has said his administration is prepared to fully administer WASSCE without any challenges and test leakage.