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MoE makes clarity on exam fees

Liberia’s Education Ministry has issued a clarify that there has been no change in who pays for the senior high exam. In a statement issued in Monrovia Tuesday, 28 November, The Ministry of Education says it has previously only subsidized the Liberia Junior High School Certificate Examination (LJHSCE) fees, and it continues to do so.

However, it says the cost of the Liberia Senior High School Certificate Examination (LSHSCE) had always been undertaken by families of students. “Now that the LSHSCE is being replaced by the West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE), which is a much more comprehensive exam carried out over five weeks rather than five days, families will continue to be responsible for the majority of the cost,” the Ministry says.

The statement notes that the Ministry provides a 25% subsidy for the cost of the WASSCE, noting that students’ families are charged US$60 for the exam, with the government paying the remaining US$20.

The Ministry adds that while it would like to be in a position to waive all fees for senior high school students sitting the exam, its significant budget constraints mean that unfortunately it is not possible for it to do so at this time.

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It says it welcomes any organization that wants to assist in relieving the burden of WASSCE fees from students’ families, telling the public that the correct process for doing so is to coordinate with the West African Examination Council (WAEC), which administers the exam.

To date, the Ministry says it is not aware of an agreement between any entity and the WAEC to do so. The Liberia Senior High School Certificate Examination (LSHSCE) was introduced in 1988 as a means of preparing Liberia to join the other four West African Examinations Council (WAEC) countries in 1996 to administer a common examination, the West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE).

Unfortunately, Liberia could not participate in WASSCE in 1996 due to the civil war. The West African Examinations Council, the regional governing body for the test, allowed each country to commence the examination when ready. In 2013, Liberia joined the other four countries in the region taking WASSCE, but requested that the exam be conducted on a pilot basis for three years since most schools lacked laboratory facilities.

The 2017 exam was the last pilot conducted, after which the LSHSCE was phased out. Liberian students will start taking the WASSCE in April 2018 and the test will last for five weeks. As of 2018, WASSCE will be the only external examination that will determine senior high students’ graduation or admission to universities. In a few weeks, universities in Liberia, the Commission on Higher Education, the Ministry of Education, and WAEC Liberia will have series of meetings to determine benchmarks for admission to the universities.

Education Ministry says more information on the WASSCE test, including the syllabus, can be found on WAEC Liberia’s website: http://www.liberiawaec.org.—Press release

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