School administrators, teachers and even parents seem to be instilling fears rather than confidence in 12th graders across the country, who are candidates for the newly introduced West Africa Senior School Certificate Examinations or WASSCE in Liberia. Most school administrators, teachers and parents believe the nation’s education system is not prepared to administer such rigorous and internationally standardized tests.
They cite among others, lack of basic facilities in schools, including well- equipped science laboratories, standard textbooks, and qualified teachers to comprehensively prepare 12th graders for the regional examinations, arguing that it’s not yet time to put our students on par with their colleagues in Nigeria, Ghana, The Gambia and Sierra Leone.
But when will we be prepared as a nation in this 21st century after 170 years of Independence to prepare our youth coning out of secondary school so that they would be able to compete with their colleagues from the sub-region both at home and abroad? What has happened to our educational system that we seem not to trust ourselves anymore? Have we been playing lip-service over the years to a sector that is so vital to our human resource and national development processes?
In a recent press statement following series of WAEC committee meetings in Monrovia, Deputy Education Minster for Instruction and Chief Government Nominee to the Council, Dr. Romelle A. Horton urged that statistics of students’ performance in the 2017 Liberia Senior High School Certificate Examinations and the West Africa Senior School Certificate Examinations, which was used as a pilot project, should be taken as a wake-up call for concerted efforts by all stakeholders towards improving the teaching/learning process in our school system.
We call on all stakeholders, including parents, teachers, school administrators and authorities at the Ministry of Education itself to embrace this challenge by improving teaching methodology in schools geared at attracting students’ interest to the lessons being taught.
Improving teaching methodology means preparing materials or lesson plans in line with the national curriculum for schools and syllabuses prescribed by WAEC. Not only that, teachers in the classroom must be adequately prepared to present and interpret complicated topics for the clarity of their pupils, particularly subjects in the sciences where our students continue to perform very poorly.
To have qualified and academically competent teachers would require training institutions to put out the best rather than half-baked or poorly prepared hustlers masquerading in our schools as teachers, offering grades for sex, money and material things.
Perhaps most importantly, private schools should pay competently qualified teachers well, not only to retain them, but to prevent them from moving one school to another just to economically sustain themselves.
We think rather than instilling fears in students, teachers and parents should build in them confidence, buttressed by moral and academic support. Our students should have all the support they need, including financial to enable them to face up to the challenge of the WASSCE.
One thing we should not forget, as beginners, they will fail, and as a nation, we all will fail along this path to transitioning from LSHSCE to WASSCE. But it is important that we start now and improve subsequently. We cannot afford to keep our education substandard to the rest of the WAEC member countries, which we are a part.