The Ministry of Education has announced the cancellation of this year’s WAEC Exams in Liberia. According to Education Minister George Warner, the Ministry’s decision is a result of the poor performance of 9th and 12th Graders in the WAEC Exams for the past five years, assuring that the exams would only be administered in 2016, while WEAC fees already collected by the various schools will be credited to the next academic year (2016).
Addressing the regular MICAT Press Briefing on Thursday, June 25, 2015 on Capitol Hill in Monrovia, Warner indicated that the Ministry of Education has the mandate to develop, promote and implement Education policies, and create the necessary institutional framework that will provide universal education for all Liberians, enabling the government to provide and support sustained human resource development in all of its aspect of human endeavors.
Minister Warner also confirmed the closure of all Kindergating, primary and secondary schools across the country for the current academic year by the 31st of July 2015, further disclosing that a new academic year would begin on September 7, 2015.
He said changes being effected in the Liberian school calendar is in consonance with the current work being done to rapidly improve the educational sector in Liberia, noting that the school calendar for “ECD” and Basic secondary schools will revert to the normal cycle, with the 2015 school year concluding on July 31, 2015.
“We must intensifies the process of transformation by developing a highly educated and skilled labor force; improving education is therefore crucial for the country, and crucial for every child so that each child can fulfill his or her potential in the country,” the Education Minister told reporters at the Ministry of Information Press Briefing Thursday, emphasizing the need for all students to master the contents and skills to allow them excel in future years.
“All students in grades 9 and 12 need to be fully prepared for the WEAC Exams; in the past five years, students have received poor scores in the WEAC Exams, and after 6 months out of school due to the deadly Ebola outbreak in Liberia,” he said.
A former Director General of the Civil Service Agency, Warner indicated that the Ministry of Education was, therefore, setting the school year to the original cycle, as well as to rapidly implement improvements during “a shortened school break”.
According to him, this policy will provide a solid foundation for full recovery of teaching and learning, stressing that students would have more time in school to learn and teachers will be better prepared and better supported.
Meanwhile, Minister Werner has disclosed that in the wake of the decision to end this academic year on July 31, 2015, students in grades 1-8 and 10-11 may be promoted on the basis of attainment, as judged by their schools upon meeting the learning objective(s), while those who fail to do so will not, but will have a full cycle to learn what they need to for the school year just passed. Minister Warner further said students who enrolled in grades 9 and 12 during the 2015 school year will continue in such classes and be properly prepared for the 1016 WEAC Exams in Liberia.
Additionally, the Minister also disclosed that the Ministry was in the process of distributing new textbooks, supplementary workbooks and instructional materials to schools during the August-September break, saying teachers will be trained, and that such training will focus on the effect of 2015 school year.
It can be recalled that on Tuesday June 23, 2015, Hundreds of protesting students mobilized from schools across Montserrado County, staged a non-violent protest on the grounds of the Capitol Building in Monrovia, demonstrating their disapproval of Minister Werner’s proposal to close schools at the end of this month.
In the wake of their protest, a huge down-pour of rain could not district them from executing their protest at the Legislature, as they consistently chanted slogans such as “no school, no work; no school, no session.”
Mr. Werner, who recently succeeded former Education Minister Etmonia David Tarpeh after lawmakers first rejected him as Health Minister, began on a rough footing as he failed to win the support of a vast number of his stakeholders in the education sector, probably due to the approach advanced.
Tension has been mounting here in the wake of Minister Werner’s proposal to close all schools across the country to train teachers, prepare schools and start a fresh academic calendar this September.
But parents and students continued to challenge the policy on grounds that the minister had made no clarity regarding school and WAEC fees already paid, as well as the promotion of students who meet the requirements set in the curriculum. By Lewis S. Teh – Editing by George Barpeen