Every one of the nearly 25,000 students who took the University of Liberia's entrance exam earlier this month failed it, in a shocking display that has the country's education minister likening the widespread failure to "mass murder."
"I know there are a lot of weaknesses in the schools but for a whole group of people to take exams and every single one of them to fail, I have my doubts about that," Liberian Education Minister Etmonia David-Tarpeh told the BBC's Focus on Africa program.
"It's like mass murder."
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The school, one of two state-run universities, will now have a freshman class of zero students when it reopens next month. A university official said the students failed the exam because they lacked enthusiasm and didn’t have a basic grasp of English, according to the BBC.
"In English, the mechanics of the language, they didn't know anything about it," university spokesman Momodu Getaweh said. "So the government has to do something. The war has ended 10 years ago now. We have to put that behind us and become realistic."
Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has said the country’s education system is still "in a mess" following a civil war that ended a decade ago. Many schools are still lacking qualified teachers and basic resources.
"All [school administrators] care about is how pack (sic) their classes should be and not the output of our children," Fatu Massaquoi, a Liberian mother of four, told AllAfrica.com.
"This time when you ask students who are seeking admission at the University of Liberia what they are studying, most of them tell me that they are studying geology, mining engineering, and so on. I wonder how these children who cannot pass high school physics and mathematics are managing."
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