Marklyn W. Wingbah, a Carver Mission School student, triumphantly went through in the 2017 exams of the West African Examination Council (WAEC), coming out as the “best performer” among all other Liberian students. It is not only commendable that Marklyn achieved “best performer” status, her achievement also dispels negative notions about women—that they cannot challenge their male counterparts, who are often seen as heroes in academia in Liberia.
In this year’s examination, 31,009 sat the test—14, 442 females and 16,567 males. Out of the total number of females, 8,284 passed the exam while 5,746 failed. Among the 16 candidates, representing six males and 10 females, who earned division two, Marklyn was named the “best performer.” We highly commend this young, progressive female student and all of her nine friends that earned division two.
This is not the first time a female student made a breakthrough in this West African high school exit exam. It may be recalled that a few years back female students from the Firestone School System, J.J. Roberts United Methodist and other schools in Monrovia achieved a similar record, some of them even achieving division one. It shows how seriously our women and girls understand gender equity theory in terms of competition with their male counterparts in the academic environment. It is a sign that in spite of the many social hurdles, including teenage pregnancy, prostitution and gender based sexual violence facing girls and women in most societies, there are still many of them who are making a difference.
Carver Mission School principal Rev. Lawrence Moses Grimes described Marklyn as a student with a high appetite for reading. According to Rev. Grimes, Marklyn started earning excellent grades in the 9th grade, and has since been performing very well in her lessons.
Studying to make a passing grade in school nowadays is a challenge. It has been reported in Liberia that a lot of students, majority of them girls and women, rely on money or sex to acquire grades in secondary schools, and even at the university level. This unresolved challenge is leading many of our students today to perform poorly in school thus casting uncertainties over the future of this country. So, when a female student takes such a stride to be named the top student in the national exams, we see it as quite laudable; and we appreciate her, her parents and school for bringing her up.
Our question, however, remains, why did Marklyn not earn division one? Don’t get us wrong, as this question is not meant to discredit the strides she has made to reach thus far. It is actually intended to challenge her to do more at the university level and to encourage her school, Carver Mission, to challenge its students with excellent instruction, so that in the next WAEC exams and beyond, they will all achieve division one.
We are quite aware of the constraints facing our education system: lack of school and public libraries; very few well equipped laboratories; scarce electricity; the impoverished living condition of too many of our students; peer pressure among other challenges facing most Liberian students.
Even so, Marklyn, you have contended with these constraints and gone on to lift up the names of your family, school and country in an academic competition. For one to reach the peak, s/he must always count the present as little and imagine the future as big. Complacency is one of the viruses that retard progress; to reach the peak, you must be consistent, determined and strong.
We also urge the Carver Mission School administration and all other junior and senior high schools throughout the nation to redouble their efforts to have in place well equipped libraries, laboratories, other instructional materials, qualified teachers and policies that will make learning challenging and effective. The fact that you have trained one of your students to be the top among tens of thousands of students in the republic shows some level of progress in your institution. We urge you to use the accolade earned through Marklyn’s performance to enhance your students’ motivation to excel, so that during next year’s examination many of your students will achieve division one.
We say congratulations to Marklyn Wingbah for the effort and to the Carver Mission School for preparing Liberian children for a brighter future. We pray that all other schools will redouble their efforts in every direction to prepare their students to make their schools proud.