All 25,000 Liberian graduates failed the nation’s university admission test, reducing the University of Liberia’s incoming freshmen count to zero. According to university officials, the problem is lack of enthusiasm and an overall tenuous knowledge of English. Others point to a deeply flawed elementary school system that’s been hamstrung since the country’s brutal civil war.
BBC reports that the poor results are the worst recorded, and that students from all over the African country were devastated by the news. Although the nation’s president recently lamented the imperiled education system, few expected such an alarming failure rate. Education Minister Etmonia David Tarpeh told reporters that she will be meeting with university officials to discuss the issue.
"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," David-Tarpeh said, speaking to BBC. "It's like mass murder."
She noted that she knew some of the students personally, and that many of them came from respected institutions.
"These are not just schools that will give people grades. I'd really like to see the results of the students," she said.
Momundu Getaweh, a spokesperson for the University of Liberia, told reporters that the institution had no intention of reversing its decision.
"In English, the mechanics of the language, they didn't know anything about it. So the government has to do something," he said. "The war has ended 10 years ago now. We have to put that behind us and become realistic."
Liberia’s civil war began in the late 1980s, when an economic collapse spurred Charles Taylor’s National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL) militia to rally the countryside, seize the capital, and execute the nation’s leader, Sergeant Samuel Doe. The United Nations (UN) still maintains 15,000 peacekeeping soldiers in the country.