calling a spade a spade

I read this week that all 25,000 entrance applicants who sat for the University of Liberia admission failed. 25,000 is a large number of people.

The interesting thing is that many people are shocked and even casting slurs on the University’s Testing & Evaluation team for raising the standards on the quality of tests administered this year.

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One cannot dispute that over the years the University hasn’t been plagued with corrupt practices which starts from admission and goes all the way up to graduation. However, we have all seen vast improvement in the state of affairs at the University since Dr. Dennis took over. I recall there were times when there would be only one semester per calendar year and leaving the university in 4 years was an illusion.  Nowadays we see annual graduations and that in itself is no small feat and certainly laudable.

Dr. Getaweh, Vice President for Relations at the University stated in  an interview with the Daily Observer newspaper that many candidates lacked basic English skills. I can attest to this because as an HR practitioner in Liberia, I am constantly amazed, angry and sometimes just plain ashamed to read the writings of some of the applicants that sit for simple job related tests. The tests aren’t anything difficult or tricky. Sometimes, I may simply ask them to write and tell me why we should hire them for the position they have applied for.   The results are usually dismal and downright embarrassing. These are usually University graduates.

There is something we are all aware of but don’t want to admit: Our educational system sucks. There is a need to upgrade school standards. Schools need to encourage the students to read more. “You can’t build a house on a weak foundation” and I think that is our problem here in Liberia. The educational foundations of our schools are weak. You have teachers teaching who themselves need to be taught. If the foundations of our teachers are weak, how can we expect them to in turn deliver stellar education to our kids?

Unless you are ready and able to pay top dollar to send your child to one of the plush private schools around here, the chances of ensuring your kids get good education are slim. Now given that bulk of our population are unemployed and or not adequately compensated, how many can afford to provide quality education for their children.

I say kudos to the University Testing team and bravo for calling a spade a spade. To me, the results signal hopefully another new beginning for Liberia.

We can only move forward if we recognize our shortcomings, failings and start to address them rather than deny them.

I look forward to the day when I will administer a simple job related test and not cringe or dread reading the responses to “tell me why I should hire you”.

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