MONROVIA, Montserrado – On Monday, results for the 2017 Senior and Junior high school certificate exams conducted in May by the West African Examinations Council, or WAEC, were released.
Marklyn Wingbah, a student of the Carver Mission Academy in Paynesville, was named the best performing candidate for the senior high category. She had an aggregated T-Score of 715.70.
It is no coincidence that Wingbah is also the valedictorian of her class, with a 98 percent average. She has always been a consistent ‘A’ student. Even before enrolling at Carver Mission in 2014, Wingbah topped her ninth-grade class at the ELWA Academy.
She told The Bush Chicken in an interview on Tuesday that though she strived to be valedictorian of her class, being named as the best performing student in the WAEC exams was a surprise.
“I didn’t believe the news earlier until I confirmed it from the Ministry of [Education] website,” she said. “I am so overwhelmed.”
She said the recognition is a result of the many sacrifices she has made, including putting aside social pleasures to focus on her studies. She said many times, she had to cut short her bedtime to study, most times between 2:00 a.m. and 5:00 a.m.
One person who has not been surprised at Wingbah’s performance is her principal, Lawrence Grimes of Carver Mission Academy. He congratulated her for bringing honor to the institution, adding that her past performance and her intense studying habits convinced him that she would excel.
Besides maintaining an ‘A’ average, Grimes said Wingbah has been eager to learn.
“Every time she came to school, she made requests for books to read and conduct personal research,” he said. “She never gets tired reading and studying her lessons.”
Already at age 19, Wingbah is aspiring to become a medical doctor. “I choose this field because I want to help save lives,” she explained.
Her performance is even more remarkable given the challenges girls face in graduating. Social norms and policies at schools unfairly keep girls back. For example, the practice of school administrators and teachers trading sex in exchange for better grades is prevalent in Liberia. Additionally, many schools have a policy of expelling pregnant girls from the classroom.
It is no wonder that “girls currently account for 47 percent of secondary school students and women account for less than 10 percent of the teaching force,” according to the Ministry of Education’s Education Sector Analysis report. Even fewer girls graduate from high school.
Wingbah, however, dismisses any suggestion that males are more brilliant than females. She said females can perform just as well as males if they avoid focusing on social pleasures and indulge in their academic studies.
She encouraged other female students to challenge their male counterparts in academic performance. Already, her colleagues are listening to her. Of the 16 candidates who placed in division two, 10 were females.
Featured photo by Gbatemah Senah