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Education Ministry nullifies BWI’s decision on WASSCE

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A document in the possession of this paper shows how Education Minister Prof. Ansu Sonii nullified a decision by Booker Washington Institute (BWI) Principal Harris Tarnue, combining 11th grade students and 12th graders to sit this year’s West African Senior School Certificate Examinations (WASSCE).

The document, exhibiting reported exchanges of emails between Prof. Sonii and Principal Harris Tarnue between 25 and 26 April 2019, says it is “inappropriate” if it were true the principal unilaterally approved and registered 11th graders of BWI for WASSCE with no regard for the Board and the Ministry of Education.

There has been report here of alleged 10 students of the 11th grade class at BWI joining their senior students of the 12th grade class to sit this year’s WASSCE.

But noise sparked out immediately when other senior students who did not like the idea reportedly expressed their disenchantment against the administration’s decision.

The document appears to explain that Margibi County Education Officer (CEO) Andrew Jarwey Jlay had written BWI Principal Harris Tarnue on 26 April 2019, premising his argument on a thought that BWI junior students “are the equivalent of regular seniors” in the Liberian secondary school system.

On the basis of Mr. Jlay’s claim, the document shows that he said he had no reservation for students who had fulfilled such requirements to write the exam.

“Hence the necessity of the pilot program is justified and legitimate because I approve it,” the communication quotes Jlay as saying.

Additionally, it indicates that Mr. Jlay told Principal Tarnue that as a county school system, “we” exercise autonomy and inform or notify the ministry for concurrence on issues as “we” deem necessary.

Mr. Jlay admitted that matter of this nature should be sanctioned by the school board, but he found that the board had just been formed and had not begun such deliberations.

But addressing Mr. Jlay’s argument that junior year students (11th graders) at BWI are considered senior students in effect, Minister Sonii says the authority of CEOs and County School Boards does not rise to … changing policies that are uniform to all schools in the country.

“As regarding the academic standing of 11 grade students enrolled at BWI, it is not in the purview of the County School Board or CEO or individual principals to unilaterally determine that 11 graders are eligible to sit for the 12th grade Senior High School Certificate Examination,” the communication says.

It adds that such action requires a full justification to the Board of Governors of the Institution, who upon a resolution to the effect, makes a case for the institution to the Ministry of Education for consideration.

“The assumption is that 11 grade students of BWI would have completed the full curriculum for the Senior High Division and are awaiting graduation, but for one year of vocational school work,” Prof. Sonii says.

He continues that if any portion of the Senior High School Curriculum materials are covered in the fourth year alongside the vocational lessons, then the 11th grade students are not equivalent of 12th grade students and must cover their full curriculum both academic and vocational.

According to the document, Minister Sonii observes that the academic programs and systems of the country are already seriously troubled, warning that any attempt to gain students favor could make things even worse.

The document indicates that Minister Sonii raises question as to what has been the performance of BWI 12 grade students on these exams if the statistics were available, to make a case for the 11 graders’ eligibility.

Even if that case were convincing, yet, the document notes that Minister Sonii indicates that the processes to grant such permission is not unilateral.

“If it were true that you unilaterally approved and registered 11th Grade students of BWI to sit for this year 2019 exams with no regard for the Board nor the Ministry of Education, who alone, has the authority to determine what level of students are eligible for the WASSCE, then your action is inappropriate,” the document quotes Minister Sonii further.By Winston W. Parley

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