Monrovia – At least two high School principals and one 12 graders have expressed excitement over latest decision by the West African Examination Council (WAEC) to extend the registration of the 2018 exams for 12 and nine graders by 15 days.
WAEC Liberia Chapter on Wednesday, January 10, extended its registration deadline to January 30, 2018 for 12 and nine graders, who are opting to sit the years’ exams and have not registered.
The Council reached the decision following numerous pleads from parents and guidance, who complained of facing financial constraints and that the previous deadline for registration was so jamming for them.
“Due to numerous appeals from the public, the West African Examinations Council, in consultation with the Ministry of Education, has extended the deadline for registration for the 2018 exams."
"The new deadline is now January 30, 2018,” WAEC said in a press statement.
According to some parents, Liberia’s prevailing economic condition has created hardship and they could not get the required fees for registration in time.
WAEC previously sets January 15, 2018 as deadline for its examination registration, but some parents said they could not meet up with that deadline due to in part, increase in fees.
WAEC increased its fees for 12 graders from L$3,500 [US$27 at current official exchange rate of L$127 to US$1 (Street rate LD$130) this academic school year to US$60 for the pending 2018 exams.
This is due in part because WAEC is transitioning this year from its traditional 9-course tests to the West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE), which administers the same nine tests, in addition to several others.
This test is administered over a longer time than the one-week duration used in time past.
However, WAEC L$2,350 fee for nine graders remains the same for this year’s exams as that category of students are not sitting the new form of examination.
Since the increase in the fees for 12 graders, parents with more than one child have been complaining over what they say is an astronomical leap.
At the same time, self-supported 12 graders believed US$60 is not a small amount to get in a country, where most of its citizens live on less than one US dollar per day.
The complaints from parents and others also led to several 12 graders seeking support from President-elect George Weah just before the Presidential runoff election.
Senator Weah was magnanimous enough to pay the fees for at least 2,000 12 graders in Montserrado County, which he represents in Liberian Legislature.
This extension by WAEC is being welcomed by school administrators and others.
The principal of the Patmelia Academy High School in the Pipeline Road Community, Paynesville, Dada Drapper, told FrontPage Africa that the extension of registration deadline is a welcomed news, as some 12 graders are self-supported.
According to Drapper, most of the 12 graders in his school are yet to do their registration, hoping that they or their parents can use the extension to register.
Out of the 220 12 graders at Patmelia Academy, Drapper said only 55 have registered for the tests.
According to him, this isn’t unique to his school alone.
“There are many students and parents out there who don’t have the financial might to register themselves or their children. I hope that this deadline will encourage them to do so,” he said over the phone.
Mr. Godfray Mulbah Jr., proprietor of Paynesville Central Academy High School Annex-Three in Neezoe Community said WAEC is constraint to extend the registration because of “very slow pace in the registration process.”
Mulbah said WAEC is yet to meet its targeted number of students for the exams since the increase in fees was announced.
“The reason they went that route is that more schools are not pulling in and the process is very slow, so they are under constraint to extend the registration.
12 graders are not paying the WASSCE fee and ninth graders are not paying the WAEC fees as such the deadline cannot hold,” Mr. Mulbah said.
Mulbah noted that WAEC is surely depending on high schools to do registration for their operations and they cannot afford to lose huge revenue used for processing the 2018 examination.
Unlike Patmalia Academy, the failure of parents to meet up with the registration fees, compelled his institution to handle the payment of their students.
With the extension, he hopes parents and self-supported students will be able to come in to register.
Twelfth grader Augustus Fanga of John Lewis United Methodist School, Duport Road, Paynesville, told this newspaper that the latest decision by WAEC to extend the registration process is welcoming.
Student Fanga said his parents are yet to do his WASSCE registration because of hardship and financial constraints.
“Each time I asked my parents if they have done my registration, they tell me no, they are still looking for money to do that."
"They can tell me that the money has increased to US$60. My mother sells in the market and my father is a private school teacher. They keep telling me that they have plenty expensive on their heads,” he said.
He hopes that the extension of the registration from the 15th of January to 30th will enable his parents to get it done.
In November 2017, WAEC-Liberia boss Dale G. Gbotoe told a local radio outside Monrovia that the fee is being perceived by parents as exorbitant because government had been undertaking the task of paying examination fees for both 12 and 9th graders in public schools.
“Because the government was paying for all the candidates that sat the exam in time past, parents were not shouldering that responsibility,” Gbotoe stated.
He further stated that the fees being charged for this academic year’s WASSCE examination is lesser than what was being charged over the past four years and there was no need for complaining.
According to him, since 2013, fees charged by the council for WASSCE has remained US$75 and had been administered as a pilot project but the 2018 fee is now reduced to US$60.