MONROVIA, Montserrado – Wilson Tarpeh, the Coalition for Democratic Change’s elections campaign manager, says his party remains committed to its promise of paying the West African Senior Certificate Examination fees for 12th graders across the country.
During the 2017 elections, CDC made eliminating the WASSCE fees a part of its campaign promise. In fact, the party’s campaign manifesto explicitly says it will absorb the fees for all students taking the exams.
Prior to and after the 2017 presidential and legislative elections, hundreds of students from various schools around Monrovia have been frequenting the headquarters of CDC to request President-elect George Weah to pay their WASSCE fees.
Tarpeh, speaking to The Bush Chicken via mobile phone on Wednesday, said even though the deadline for students to complete registration is coming up, “the CDC government is committed to its campaign promise.”
As the previous registration deadline of January 15, 2018 was approaching, many senior secondary students were still finding it very difficult to pay the US$60.
Due to the lack of banks and internet connectivity in some rural areas of the country, some schools even asked their students to pay US$70 to process their WASSCE registration, which made the situation even more difficult.
Prior to the deadline of January 15, several secondary school principals The Bush Chicken contacted across the country said the students were reluctant in paying their registration fees because of financial difficulties. The fees increased from last year’s L$3,500 (US$27.34).
At the William V. S. Tubman High school in Monrovia, only 7 out of 201 senior students had registered as of January 10. Meanwhile, 50 of the 156 12th graders at the Zorzor Central High school in Lofa had registered as of January 8, 2018.
The Salayea Central High School, also located in Lofa, had registered only 1 student out of the total of number of 53 as of January 13.
On Wednesday, the Ministry of Education announced an extension of the deadline.
“Due to numerous appeals from the public, the West African Examinations Council, in consultation with the Ministry of Education, has extended the deadline for registration for the 2018 exams to January 30,” a ministry press statement read.
As the initial January 15 deadline approached, some 12th grade students from a number of schools reported being barred from attending school due to their failure to pay their WASSCE fees, but the ministry has ordered such to stop.
“All principals and school administrators are also reminded that the inability on the part of students to pay the registration fees is not a legitimate reason for students to be out of schools,” the ministry said. The Bush Chicken, however, was not able to verify specific cases where principals acknowledged that they were preventing students from attending due to an inability to pay.
Meanwhile, some secondary school principals have expressed excitement over the latest decision by WAEC to extend the registration of the 2018 exams by 15 days.
Richard Z. Korboi, vice principal for instruction at the William V. S. Tubman High School, expressed appreciation to the examinations body for the extension. He said he hopes that parents “would work vigorously in ensuring that payments are made on time.”
“It has been a serious challenge for the school administration in getting the students to pay their registration fees because they are not coming forth,” Korboi said.
P. Nyanti Toe, principal of Zorzor Central High School, also thanked WAEC for the extension in the deadline, adding that it “brought relief to both the administration and students.”
Toe said the number of registered students had increased to 100 since the announcement of the deadline extension was made on Wednesday.
“The current problem is now with the 9th graders because the government promised to pay their registration fees and nothing has been done,” he said.
Featured photo by Zeze Ballah