For the first time, all 25,000 candidates who sat for the entrance examination for the new academic year into the University of Liberia, the country’s main public institution, have failed.
It is an evidence of the President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s recent comment that the education system was still “in a mess”, and that much needed to be done to improve it.
“None of the 25,000 students who sat the test (obtained) the required points,” said university vice-president, Ansu Sonii said.
The university’s president, Emmet A. Dennis said the poor results forced the institution to lower it’s admission standards to take in 1,600 students in both undergraduate and post-graduates students for the new term which begins next month.
He said that the results from the exams, though alarming, were real and added that there is a need for repeated engagements in addressing the low-rated education in the country.
Liberian President, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, was worried about the development which she termed “embarrassing” and has made an impromptu call at the university to discuss the failure, her office said in a statement.
Worried by the mass failure and comparing their performances with other countries, the president urged the country to see the poor performance of the candidates as a “national emergency”, adding that all Liberians, irrespective of political background, must tackle the issue of dire standards in schools.
“The problem is not just taking the test and failing. The problem is where they are coming from — so we have to go into those high schools, into those elementary schools and see what is lacking and what we can do about it,” Sirleaf stated.
Sirleaf, who was awarded the Nobel peace prize for her part in ending Liberia’s ruinous civil war in 2003, has been criticized for her failure to improve teaching since she took office in 2006.
Liberia’s education minister, Etmonia David-Tarpeh expressed shock that not a single candidate out of 25,000 students passed the admission test to the university, one of two state-run universities.
She told the BBC she would meet university officials to discuss the results.
‘I know there are a lot of weaknesses in the schools but for a whole group of people to take exams and every single one of them to fail, I have my doubts about that,’ she said.
The Liberian parliament’s education committee chairman Bill Tuaway, blamed poor teaching for the failure, the first time in Liberia’s history that no student has passed.
“This is a clear indication that the quality of education in Liberia is very bad. This shows how our teachers don’t teach well,” he told reporters in Monrovia.
Although Liberia has been peaceful for a decade now, its education system has not recovered from 14-year of civil war, which forced many professionals, including teachers, to flee the country.