News / Africa

Admission Standards Toughened at University of Liberia

Map of Liberia, AfricaMap of Liberia, Africa
Map of Liberia, Africa
Map of Liberia, Africa
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
|| 0:00:00

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.

You May Like

800-Pound Man Determined to Slim Down

Man says he was kicked out of hospital for ordering pizza; wants to be an actor More

Australia Prepares to Resettle 12,000 Syrian Refugees

Preference will be given to refugees from persecuted minorities, and the first group is expected to arrive before late December More

S. African Miners Seek Class Action Suit Against Gold Mines

The estimated 100,000 say say they contracted the lung diseases silicosis and tuberculosis in the mines More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
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!

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
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.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Amnesty Accuses Saudi Coalition of ‘War Crimes’ in Yemeni
Henry Ridgwell
October 12, 2015 4:03 PM
The human rights group Amnesty International has accused the Saudi-led coalition of war crimes in airstrikes against Houthi rebels in Yemen. Henry Ridgwell reports the group says hundreds of civilians have been killed in strikes on residential areas.

Video Amnesty Accuses Saudi Coalition of ‘War Crimes’ in Yemen

The human rights group Amnesty International has accused the Saudi-led coalition of war crimes in airstrikes against Houthi rebels in Yemen. Henry Ridgwell reports the group says hundreds of civilians have been killed in strikes on residential areas.

Video No Resolution in Sight to US House Speaker Drama

Uncertainty grips the U.S. Congress, where no consensus replacement has emerged to succeed Republican House Speaker John Boehner after his surprise resignation announcement. Half of Congress is effectively leaderless weeks before America risks defaulting on its national debt and enduring another partial government shutdown.

Video New Art Exhibit Focuses on Hope

Out of struggle and despair often comes hope. That idea is behind a new art exhibit at the American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore, Maryland. "The Big Hope Show" features 25 artists, some of whom overcame trauma and loss. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.

Video Columbus Day Still Generates Controversy as US Holiday

The second Monday of October is Columbus Day in the United States, honoring explorer Christopher Columbus and his discovery of the Americas. The achievement is a source of pride for many, but for some the holiday is marked by controversy. Adrianna Zhang has more.

Video Anger Simmers as Turks Begin to Bury Blast Victims

The Turkish army carried out new air strikes on Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) targets on Sunday, a day after the banned group announced a unilateral cease fire. The air raids apparently are in retaliation for the Saturday bombing in Turkey's capital Ankara that killed at least 95 people and wounded more than 200 others. But as Zlatica Hoke reports, there are suspicions that Islamic State is involved.

Video Bombings a Sign of Turkey’s Deep Troubles

Turkey has begun a three-day period of mourning following Saturday’s bomb attacks in the capital, Ankara, that killed nearly 100 people. With contentious parliamentary elections three weeks away, the attacks highlight the challenges Turkey is facing as it struggles with ethnic friction, an ongoing migrant crisis, and growing tensions with Russia. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video Afghanistan’s Progress Aided by US Academic Center

Recent combat in Afghanistan has shifted world attention back to the central Asian nation’s continuing civil war and economic challenges. But, while there are many vexing problems facing Afghanistan’s government and people, a group of academics in Omaha, Nebraska has kept a strong faith in the nation’s future through programs to improve education. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Omaha, Nebraska.

Video House Republicans in Chaos as Speaker Favorite Withdraws

The Republican widely expected to become the next speaker of the House of Representatives shocked his colleagues Thursday by announcing he was withdrawing his candidacy. The decision by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy means the race to succeed retiring Speaker John Boehner is now wide open. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Video German, US Officials Investigate Volkswagen

German officials have taken steps to restore some of the reputation their car industry has lost after a recent Volkswagen diesel emissions scandal. Authorities have searched Volkswagen headquarters and other locations in an effort to identify the culprits in the creation of software that helps cheat on emission tests. Meanwhile, a group of lawmakers in Washington held a hearing to get to the bottom of the cheating strategy that was first discovered in the United States. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Why Are Gun Laws So Hard for Congress to Tackle?

Since taking office, President Barack Obama has spoken out or issued statements about 15 mass shootings. The most recent shooting, in which 10 people were killed at a community college, sparked outrage over the nation's gun laws. But changing those laws isn't as easy as many think. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.

Video In 'He Named Me Malala,' Guggenheim Finds Normal in Extraordinary

Davis Guggenheim’s documentary "He Named Me Malala" offers a probing look into the life of 18-year-old Malala Yousafsai, the Pakistani teenager who, in 2012, was shot in the head by the Taliban for standing up for her right to education in her hometown in Pakistan's Swat Valley. Guggenheim shows how, since then, Malala has become a symbol not as a victim of brutal violence, but as an advocate for girls’ education throughout the world. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.

Video Paintable Solar Cells May Someday Replace Silicon-Based Panels

Solar panels today are still factory-manufactured, with the use of some highly toxic substances such as cadmium chloride. But a researcher at St. Mary’s College, Maryland, says we are close to being able to create solar panels by painting them on a suitable surface, using nontoxic solutions. VOA’s George Putic reports.

VOA Blogs