News / Africa

Admission Standards Toughened at University of Liberia

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James Butty
A private consultant said the days are over when students were admitted into the University of Liberia through bribery or based on how many important people they known.

James Dorbor Jallah was hired by the university to manage and administer this year’s entrance examination.

Nearly 25,000 high school graduates who took the exam failed.

Minister of Education Etmonia David-Tarpeh reportedly said she would discuss the issue with university officials. However, she expressed doubt that all 25,000 students failed the admission exam.

Dorbor-Jallah said students seeking admission into the university would study harder if they are made to understand that admission is based on personal ability and not through bribery.

He said he was hired because the university has had problems in the past about the credibility and integrity of its admission exam.

“There is a perception in our society largely that once you take the University of Liberia admission exam, if you do not pay money to someone, or if you do not have appropriate connections, you would not be placed on the results list. So, the University has been grappling with how they could manage the process whereby people’s abilities would be truly measured on the basis of their performance on the examination,” he said.

Dorbor-Jallah made it clear he was not speaking as spokesman of the University of Liberia but rather as a private citizen who was contacted by university president, Dr. Emmet Dennis to help restore public confidence in the university’s admission process.

He said the 2013 admission exam was no different from previous exams that had been administered by the university in terms of subject matter content.

Dorbor-Jallah said the exam tested high school graduates based on the curriculum of the Ministry of Education.

But he said unlike previous exams, the faculty senate of the university decided that this time around, results would be reported on the basis of raw scores.

“To gain a pass and admission, one would have to make or earn 60 percent in mathematics and 70 percent in English of their raw scores, not curved or scaled results. So on the basis of that, we administered the exam. We went through the tabulation of the results, and it turned out that 308 of the more than 23,000 candidates actually did meet the threshold score in mathematics of 50 percent or above. But absolutely no one was able to reach the threshold score in English of 70 percent. That is why the university has reported that no one passed its admission exam,” he said.

Minister of Education Etmonia David-Tarpeh reportedly said she would discuss the issue with university officials. But she expressed doubts that all 25,000 students failed the admission exam.

Dorbor-Jallah said he made a commitment to the university that he and his team would document the process in such a way that the results can be replicated by anyone.

“If the minister is interested, or if any practitioner in the educational sector is interested, I’m sure the university will be willing to go through the process,” Dorbor-Jallah said.

He said he and his team tried to lay the foundation for the University of Liberia to see how an examination can be conducted and how the integrity can be preserved.

“We hope that the university will continue on this path so that there can be a restoration of public confidence in the process and people can begin to know that whoever merits admission into the university is the one who gets admitted and not for any other external factors,” he said.
Butty interview with Jallah
Butty interview with Jallahi
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Dorbor-Jallah said there is also a message that Liberia as a nation can draw from the mass failures of this year’s university admission exam.

“For the country as a whole, I think this is a clarion call that we need to all see that the king is moving around naked and not pretend as though the emperor has his finest clothes on,” he said.

He said Liberia as a nation must begin the process of soul-searching by carefully analyzing the root causes of the mass failures because the future of a nation depends on the education of its youth.

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by: Mehnmon from: Sanniquellie
September 07, 2013 8:56 AM
Since the war our education system is not up to standard. The main reason is our own system. All the schools are operating on their own, not following standardized curriculum. The transfer of students from one school to another is not regulated. Students failed in class instead of repeating the class s/he jumps to the next class aided by parents and teachers. The MOE allowing anyone to open school irrespective of trained teachers, instructional material and environment. There is very poor discipline in our schools. Students are not obeying school authorities. There are limited trained teachers. How will you teach what you don't know? No supervisors for the school system who will check on what teachers teach, or how they manage the class room. DEOs are not supervisors but administrator.
With all these challenges there is hope. We can learn from the health system, they have several supervisors helping clinicians to improve the quality of their work. Don't get me wrong, not all in health is perfect.
The MOE need to employ supervisor or monitor, set objectives with clear indicators to monitor the school system
We need to just cross to Ivory Coast and do a study on what makes their system better than us.
On the UL entrance exam it is regrettable but I am of the opinion that they wanted to alert the public on the low quality of our school system. However, I am of the opinion that placement exams should not have a specific mark passage. Why? The pass mark should be determined between the lowest and the highest scores because at all cost you need to admit new students. What happens if the students have scored lowest of 85% & highest of 98% will you admit all? No. In such scenario maybe 95% up passed based on the number. Similarly if the lowest 30% & highest is 45 you will surely determine who made it depending on the scale used.


by: John A. Kokulo from: Monrovia
August 29, 2013 5:30 PM
The administered UL examination result reflects a national academic result for the major administrative and implementing parties of the educational system of Liberia: 'All Failed'!
There must be harmonization in the implementation process of our national educational/academic goals and objectives by the various parties at all times.


by: DavidSG from: AU
August 27, 2013 7:59 PM
From the BBC report:

University spokesman Momodu Getaweh told Focus on Africa that the university stood by its decision, and it would not be swayed by "emotion".

"In English, the mechanics of the language, they didn't know anything about it. So the government has to do something," he said.

"The war has ended 10 years ago now. We have to put that behind us and become realistic."

Maybe Mr Getaweh needs to brush up his English as well!


by: FRANCIS EGU LANSANA from: VAHUN,LOFA
August 27, 2013 7:46 AM
Liberia again! This is an Accountability Problem. Almost 25000 high school leavers failed University of Liberia admission exam, said UL administration.
Who do you think is responsible for this?
1. University of Liberia administration
2.Ministry of Education
3.The students themselves
4.High schools across the country administrators
5.Parents
6. Other relevant educational stakeholders
7.Human right/child right advocates
It is serious, it has to do with the future of Liberia, let us discuss it to find the way forward in order to avoid the reocurrence. Remember the president of Liberia, Her Excellency Ellen Johnson Sirleaf said "The education system of this country (Liberia) is a mess". Let us be civil and discuss this so that we can have our academic status maintain and respected in the global community. God Bless Liberia, God bless the world.


by: Jamie from: Banjor
August 27, 2013 7:02 AM
Liberia needs strong professors to liberate its education system to avoid polluted fruits who will lead to mistakes as 1 professor quoted that " Mistakes of Doctors end up in grave, Mistakes of Teacher end up on street and Mistakes of Lawyers end up in jail" so please oh hail Liberia coz education is the way to success.

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