LIBERIA HAS become notorious in recent years for thievery, corruption and the lack of governance and the rule of law.
THOSE NEGATIVE vibrations have tainted Liberia’s image on the international scene and drawn unwarranted negativity to a post-war nation on the mend.
LAST WEEKEND’S revelation that the West African Examination Council (WAEC) exams originally scheduled for this week is being postponed to June 27 until July 1 sent shockwaves not just because the exams are being postponed but because of a broad-day theft of test materials from the stored location at the Konola SDA high school campus in Margibi County.
THE BURGLARY of the exam materials by unknown persons last recently illustrates the extent Liberians are willing to go just get an easy pass. The exams were to be administered to 12th graders across the country, beginning today, Monday, 23 May 23. But hours before students were due to sit the exams; it was revealed that the questionnaires were reportedly stolen after an alleged burglary of the office of the Principal of the Konola Mission Academy, Madam Rebecca G. Yealue.
THE BURGLARY FOLLOWS a 2015 decision by the Ministry of Education, mandating that no school-based exams would be offered in 2015 for 9th and 12th grade students, because more than half of high school students who sat WAEC exams failed in 2014,a result that was not a significant improvement from previous exams. That decision pushed the exams to May, 2016.
LIBERIA HAS ENDURED a bad spell of late involving massive failures of students.
IN 2014, thousands of high school graduates have failed the University of Liberia entrance exams. A year earlier, all 25,000 students who took the exams failed. And in 2016, only 15 out of 13,000 students passed the exams.
UNIVERISY OF LIBERIA President, Dr. Emmett Dennis, said recently that the students are not dumb, but rather are a casualty of Liberia’s civil war and the subsequent recovery process.
TRUE TO FACT, the civil war not only ruined infrastructures but also created a massive brain drain that the country is still struggling to repair.
ADDITIONALLY, YEARS of wars and poorly-planned curriculum contributed to poor quality of instruction in schools as one of the underlying factors responsible for the mass failure of students.
IT IS VERY IMPORTANT for authorities to dig deep and address the pros and cons of Liberia’s education demise and what can be done to right the wrongs of a sinking ship that even the President has acknowledged has been in mess.
WHAT LIBERIA NEEDS is a clearly defined term of reference for teachers, educators and administrators and a clearly defined system that works, bolstered by adequate financial support to drive the education sector out of the doldrums that has only led to failures.
WHAT LIBERIA does not need is a rushed and ill-advised roll out of a controversial project that will outsource parts of its education sector to a US-based firm over the next five years; a plan that has not been properly vetted or explained in a way that Liberia and Liberians understand.
LIBERIA’S EDUCATION SECTOR is in a mess. But it is never too late to fix it, if we do those things that will make learning accessible to all and not just a few; by keeping young children in the classrooms with teachers while avoiding the exodus of classroom teachers running after their pay checks to the city.
LIBERIA HAS its work cut out and Education Minister George Werner also has his work cut out. We all know the problem. The million-dollar dilemma is finding a solution to fix the mess that we now find ourselves in, a decaying sector in need of urgent resuscitation.