Monrovia – Former Foreign Minister Augustine Kpehe Ngafuan has advanced very important suggestions, which he thinks when implemented by policymakers, will lead to the holistic preparation for the youths of Liberia.
Mr. Ngafuan, who is also a former Finance Minister, said that teachers, school administrators, public examination bodies and the government can contribute to a more holistic preparation of the youth by taking a host of positive measures, including protecting the integrity of the entire testing system.
“The consequences of faulty or compromised examinations or evaluations could be tragic."
"The test result issued by teachers or public examination bodies is analogous to the test results released by a lab technician in a medical facility. If the patient indeed has Ebola, let the result show it. If the patient has malaria, let the result show it. If the patient has HIV, let the result show it."
"Just as it is conscienceless to tell a patient that he has a common cold when in fact he has HIV, it is equally conscienceless to issue an examination result that gives an ‘A’ to a person whose actual performance would warrant an ‘F,’” Ngafuan, who is presently the man behind the Unity Party national campaign, said Saturday, December 16, when he delivered the commencement address of Liberia Cooperative Standard Education School System (LICOSESS) Teacher Training College graduation.
Speaking further, Ngafuan himself a lecturer at the nation’s highest institution of learning— University of Liberia— emphasized that exam results should mirror actual performance.
“In order to stem malpractice in the system, we must identify all of its causal and catalyzing factors. At the very core of the problem is lack of integrity.”
However, Ngaf, as he is affectionately called by his peers, stated that in spite of all the laudable efforts that teachers, school administrators and the governments have applied over the years to curtail examination fraud, there still exist a few individuals in the system who stand for nothing and can fall for anything.
He said those administrators, teachers or students who engage in malpractice before, during and after the sitting of the actual test do so in their mad quest for “unmerited merits.”
“Being recognized as the principal or teacher of the school whose candidates excel on the WAEC exam is a public relation achievement that some individuals cannot resist. Some students dread the shame and other consequences of failing the WAEC exam so much so that they are prepared to do anything to avoid such a terrible outcome.”
According to him, to help close the integrity gap in the system, policymakers need to address a host of challenges that undermine the strength and integrity of the system, including the “the dismal plight of teachers and other educational workers,” which will require increased and sustained financial support to the education sector from governments, the private sector, donors, and ordinary citizens.”
Ngaf, who was always an ‘A’ student in most of his classes, stressed that students in their impressionable years do not only learn from what the teacher says in the classroom but also from what he/she actually does in and out of the classroom.
“Therefore, we should never cause these teachers, examiners, invigilators, test markers and support staff, all positive contributors to the forward march of our countries, to become so desperate for survival that they could easily yield to the slightest temptations,” he advised.
The man, who is the chief strategist for the Unity Party national campaign as the party heads towards the runoff election with the Congress for Democratic Change on December 26, also suggested that teacher and school authorities can contribute to the holistic preparation of the youth by promoting the value of teamwork in the testing and evaluation system.
“Tests administered by teachers and school authorities and by WAEC evaluate the performance of students as individuals and gives practically no consideration or weight to the performance of students in groups.
For instance, in a class of 40 students, the grade that student ‘A’ scores is not influenced at all by the grade student C or student D scores.
At the end of the day, it is what you do, not what others do, that determines your fate on a test in school and on a public exam such as the WAEC exams.
The positive side of this is that it makes the student to cultivate the attitude of independence and rugged individualism, which is also useful for survival in the real world.
However, the unintended consequence of this fixation on individual performance and individual assessment is that the student also develops an attitude of selfishness and, in some cases, arrogance,” he stressed.
According to him, on the job or in the real world in general, one’s performance or destinies are affected by the actions or inactions of others.
He emphasized that many tasks will have to be executed in teams in which there are very smart people and people that are not too smart.
“Managers, especially officials of government appointed to new positions usually have little option other than to manage staff recruited before their appointment.
Essentially, it is a case of managing with the hands you are dealt and realizing that if you are to succeed, you must accept that your chain is as strong as its weakest link.
Thus, one has to have such qualities as patience, empathy, as well as the ability to coach and motivate others to be effective.
Unfortunately, a person with a solid record of academic excellence may perform woefully on the job just because in contrast to the school environment where detaching oneself from others in order to absorb complex academic materials was critical to success; on the job, working with others, strong or weak, is critical to success.”
To school administrators and examiners, the former Foreign Minister told them that evaluation schemes that place some premium on teamwork would constrain students to look out for each other, knowing fully well that their fates are tied in what Martin Luther King called a “garment of mutuality.”
Mr. Ngafuan, who congratulated the 433 LICOSESS graduates, urged these teacher-students that as they go back to their classrooms and begin to lecture their pupils, they should encourage the cultivation of research and creative skills among the youth,
“The real world does not lend itself to the neat explanations and graphical depictions that one gets in the classroom. This sobering reality needs to be absorbed by the youth when their slates still have enough spaces to accommodate scripts.”
He presented the degree of the 25 students, who went honor roll.
In his ‘President’s Message’, Professor George W. Monu, said that the main aim of LICOSESS is to buttress the effort of the Ministry of Education in standardizing primary and in graduating more than twelve thousands and school administrator to date; adding: “It has grown from an in-service teacher training program to a full-fledged Associate of Arts Degree and ‘C’ Certificate program.”
He disclosed that their county extension program over the last 12 months witnessed the graduation of 47 students in Pleebo, Maryland, 147 in Barclayville, Grand Kru, 45 in Liberia Agricultural Company, Grand Bassa, 31 in Sino and 50 in Bong County.
Saturday’s graduation exercises was the mobile college’s 12th Associate of Arts Degree Graduation and 18th 'C' Certificate Program, which was held at the Effort Baptist Church in Paynesville City, Monrovia.
Associate degree in School Administration and ‘C’ certificate in General Science, Mathematics, Social Studies, Language Arts and Education to their graduates were awarded the men and women.