Madam Aguwu and Mr. Toe at yesterday press conference on WASSCE's result
-Records 21,580 Students Failure
Authorities of the West African Examinations Council (WAEC) Monrovia National Office yesterday released provisional results of this year's West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE) maiden exams covering senior and junior high schools.
In the senior high category, of which a total of 33,979 candidates from 600 high schools submitted entries, 21,580 candidates representing 65.15 percent of the candidates who sat the examination were unsuccessful.
According to WAEC authorities, only 11,544 candidates representing 34.85 percent of candidates, who sat the examination made a successful pass in individual subjects. The exam was was administered from April 3 to April 20, 2018.
"855 candidates' results are withheld for examination malpractice, including 60 candidates who were caught with cell phones, 40 candidates caught with foreign materials, 62 candidates caught for irregular activities, 122 candidates for insults and assaults and 571 candidates from 14 schools for collusion," WAEC's authorities said.
Yesterday's provisional results was read by the Officer-In-Charge of WAEC's Monrovia National Office, Isaac Toe in the presence of Christopher D. Sankolo and Madam Comfort Aguwu, Special Deputy Registrar.
Toe said 32 of the 600 high schools made a 100 percent pass rate of (E8) in at least one subject, while 33 of them made a 90 plus percent pass rate of (E8) in at least one subject.
According to Mr. Toe, candidate Samuel G. Sumo of the Firestone Senior High School in Margibi County and Candidate Munah J. Wlemus of ELWA Academy, located in Paynesville, Montserrado County passed with credits in English and Mathematics.
"Emmanuel Morris of J.J. Roberts United Methodist High School (Monrovia) and Peter Thomas Kollie of St. Martin's Catholic High School, located in Gbarnga, Bong County passed in eight of the nine subjects," Toe said.
Additionally, he said candidate Nelly Wende of SOS Hermann Gmeiner High School in Monrovia, Lewis Rogers of the J.J. Roberts and candidate Ahmadou R. Jalloh of William Booth (Salvation Army) High School in Paynbesville, passed in seven of the nine subjects administered.
Junior High Division
In a related development, Toe said the Liberia Junior High School Certificate Examination for School candidates was administered at 256 centers. A total of 40,502 candidates sat the exam, but only 25,685 candidates representing 63.42 percent made a successful pass.
"We have 14,817 candidates representing 36.58 percent of candidates who sat the examination and became unsuccessful," authorities said.
Accordingly, Candidate Luther D. Makehyor of Pamela Kay High School, located in Brewerville, Montserrado County is the best performing candidate on the examination.
Candidate Makehyor scored 379.00 in the examination in the Liberia Junior High exam.
Gov't set students up for failure?
In a related development, a new study released in Monrovia says 69.6 percent of students who participated in a recent study conducted by Open Liberia felt less confident of passing this year's WASSCE, even before they completed sitting the exams.
The study, conducted on the last two days of the exams, interviewed 165 students from 31 schools in Monrovia. This year, 33,979 students sat the exams.
Although there have been previous predictions that there would be mass failure in WASSCE, this is the first time the predictions are being backed by data.
"69.6 percent of respondents felt 'less confident of passing' the exams, despite all the years of preparing for it; and about 80 percent of respondents saying they were definitely prepared for the exams. "33.5 percent of respondents said they found questions in the exams Somehow Difficult while 25.3 percent said they were Very Difficult. 9.5 percent of them described the exams as Very Strange; and 7.6 percent as Somehow Strange," Princess M. Zoduah, Open Liberia's program officer, said at a press conference in Monrovia yesterday.
Prince M. Zoduah, Program Officer, Open Liberia
Open Liberia believes the anticipated mass failure is due to the huge disparity in topics that were covered in the WASSCE exams versus what students said they were taught in school. Subjects such as Mathematics, Chemistry, Physics and Biology came out as the most difficult subjects with different topics.
"When asked whether the exam questions were different or similar to topics taught in class, 66 percent of respondents said topics covered in the exams were different from those they were taught in school. This percentage is a combination of 30% respondents that said the topics were Maybe Similar and 16% that said they were Somehow Similar to classroom lessons," Ms. Zoduah said.
Although Open Liberia says it has deployed resources for a comprehensive qualitative assessment of WASSCE questionnaires versus the current academic curriculum for secondary schools, it believes the data it generated during the April study explains why students felt the exams and their school lessons were worlds apart.
"77.3 percent of students in the study emphatically stated that they did not have functional laboratories in their schools. Only 22.7 percent said they had laboratories in their schools. But even for students who said they had laboratories in their schools, they complained about them being obsolete. Although in the absence of laboratories, science subjects such as Chemistry, Physics and Biology were still being taught, but only in theory, not practical," Ms. Zoduah said.
Against this backdrop, the civil society group is urging the government to exercise restraints in making policy decisions, especially those affecting students, based on this year's results.
The group says instead of government focusing on punishing students for failing the exams, it must first address issues that contributed to their failure, such as lack of laboratories and libraries in secondary schools, as well as low skills of teachers in mathematics and science subjects.
Zoduah said conditions under which students are learning were appalling for government to have even thought of administering a highly science-based exam.