Admission Standards Toughened at University of Liberia

    04 September, 2013


    From VOA Learning English, this is the Education Report.

    Entrance examinations have been causing problems and confusion at the University of Liberia in Monrovia. The exams help to decide whom the University will accept as a student. The problems begin after an education specialist James Dorbor-Jallah was named to direct and administer the testing.

    Recently, about 25,000 high school students took the test but failed. Mr Dorbor-Jallah says, he and his team want to show that a fair, honest examination can be helped. He says some Liberian think they cannot enter the university unless they make a financial gift in return. He said the University has been trying to decide how to oversee the process, so people's abilities would be measured on the basis of their performances on the examination.

    Last year, the University of Liberia accepted about 7,000 new students after they took a similar exam. But that test was judged differently. Mr Dorbor-Jallah says the university sought his help because it had problems in the past with entrance exams.

    The country's Minister of Education says she does not think that all 25,000 high school students failed the test. Some of the students have held protests at the university. They say they were cheated of the more than 20 dollars required to register for the test.

    It appeared that the university would have no first year students until Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf mad with university officials. The officials then said they would lower admission test requirements and accept at least 1,600 people.

    President Sirleaf said the school could not be expected to reform it's admission policies so soon after the end of Liberia's second civil war. The fighting ended 10 years ago. He blamed conditions caused by the fighting for what he has called "the mess" in the country's educational system.

    Mr Dorbor-Jallah says he promised the university that his team would document the testing process so anyone could get the same results as his team. Mr Dorbor-Jallah says that like earlier tests, the 2013 entrance exam was based on the Ministry of Education curriculum. But he also says that the most recent test results were based on raw scores.

    A raw score does not provide any grading assistance like a curve based on the performances of a group of students. He said 308 of the more than 25,000 students did meet 50 percent success in math. But he said no student was able to gain 70 percent in English.

    And that's the Education Report from VOA Learning English.