Grand Kru Lawmakers and MOE Shift Blame for Students’ Poor Performance

MONROVIA, Montserrado – Members of the Grand Kru Legislative Caucus have blamed the poor performance of students in the county to in adequate supervision on the part of the Ministry of Education.

On Monday, July 31, the West African Examination Council released the results of its 2017 junior and senior high school certificate exams. The results show that from a total of 71 candidates who registered in the senior high category, only two persons successfully passed. The county is the least performing of all counties.

In a statement issued Thursday, the lawmakers said there has been poor performance of students in the county in the WAEC exams due to little attention the county receives from the ministry.

The lawmakers said the appointment of incompetent county and district education officers, coupled with unqualified instructors and poor supervision in the county, are impediments to achieving quality results.

“Unfortunately, it is an open secret that [county education officers] are accustomed to spending most of their time in Monrovia while [district education officers] do not even reside in their school districts,” the statement read.

“As a result, there has been this perennial lack of supervision of the schools. Additionally, many [district education officers] were retired and are yet to be replaced to make the system much more functional.”

The Grand Kru Legislative Caucus said the appointment of a new education officer in the county also contributed to the mass failure of their students in the last senior high WAEC exams.

According to them, the new county education officer was appointed when he had already expressed a desire to contest in the county’s second electoral district in the October elections.

They accused Education Minister George Werner, who also hails from the county, of failing to listen to their appeal to have the county education officer changed.

“Now that the WAEC results are out and the poor performance of the students from our county is evident, it is now that the Ministry of Education has decided to dismiss this [county education officer] who is also a candidate for the ensuing elections,” they noted.

The Caucus and members of the county administration have however considered the ministry’s action as belated and a disservice to the people of Grand Kru.

“Had Minister Werner listened to our honest appeal to relieve the [county education officer] of his duties, we would not have had this disastrous result,” they said.

“No wonder why our education is considered a mess and the authorities of MOE are making a bad situation worse.”

On Facebook, Werner replied directly to the lawmakers’ accusations, stating that the abysmal performance on the exams by Grand Kru students was not a recent occurrence.

“Let me remind [Sen. Peter Coleman] and others that Grand Kru County, until this year, had been registering zero. This is the first time in 3 years that the County posted ‘progress’ – in WAEC results,” he wrote.

“We now have Peace Corps volunteers and Tubman University-trained teachers in classrooms across the county. This wasn’t so previously and, if we build on these interventions over time, consistent improvements can be realized in students’ learning outcomes.”

Werner suggested that the issue brought up by Coleman and his colleagues went beyond education.

“Peter Coleman has been in the Senate for many more years than I have been at Education-since June 2015,” he said.

“He’s unhappy the [county education officer] is challenging his colleague to a seat in these elections. The CEO is a civil servant governed by the policies of the Civil Service Administration. As a political appointee, I cannot fire him because Senator Coleman wants me to.”

Shannor Goe, an information officer with the Ministry of Education, dismissed the lawmakers’ claim against the ministry. Goe said the performance of students does not lie with the ministry alone but also includes parents and community involvement.

He stressed the need for parents to play their roles in achieving positive academic results for their children.

Gbatemah Senah

Gbatemah is currently a senior student at the University of Liberia and a recipient of the Jonathan P. Hicks Scholarship for Mass Communications. In 2017, Senah won three Press Union of Liberia awards: Women's Rights Reporter of the Year, Legislative Reporter of the Year, and Land Rights Reporter of the Year.

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