On April 27, 2023, 46 thousand 9th graders across Liberia’s 15 Counties sat the West African Senior Secondary Examination administered by the West African Examination Council (WAEC-Liberia).

Day after the administering of the exam, many Liberians including journalists took to their social media handles accusing WAEC-Liberia of collecting the sum of five United States Dollars from each candidate for the sole purpose of providing them with a calculator for the exam. 

They further claimed that the institution failed to purchase the calculators for which said amount was collected from the students leaving them to bear the brunt of approaching the test without the tool to solve mathematical problems. 

Two of the posts regarding the allegation that went wide on social media came from journalists Obed Gibah and Alex Williams.

Gibah posted that “Corruption smells at WAEC Liberia, as the institution collects USD 5 from each student for a calculator and failed to deliver it,” Gibah posted on April 28, 2023.

“ Breaking News!!! WAEC, Liberia dubbed junior schools in Liberia. Collects $5 United States dollars from each kid for calculators and fails to deliver them. This Country Ehn,” Alex Williams‘s post said.

Obed and Alex informed the public that the WACE boss admitted to the problem, but blamed it on technical issues that were at that time beyond the institution’s control.

To verify their claims, The Stage Media(TSM)-Liberia contacted both Gibah and Williams.

“Lots of parents from Grand Bassa, Montserrado, and Margibi counties brought this to attention during the exam, Gibah continues, “I asked the WAEC boss several questions on how the procurement process of the shipment of the items were done that couldn’t be reached within the said date schedule for the exam, and  we think this is a complete form of corruption on the part of WAEC.”

The Stage Media(TSM)-Liberia also contacted Dale Gbotoe, WAEC head and he confirmed some students received their materials. In contrast, others did not receive it because they had issues with the shipment of the mathematics materials. According to Gbotoe, 98% of the students across Liberia did receive their calculators.

Over 35 thousand mathematical sets were ordered but it was practically impossible for them to get their supply from the oversea vendor. 

“Each of the Candidates paid $7 United States Dollars. The council needed about 700 thousand United States dollars to pay the vendors to have the consignment in the country” The WAEC Liberia boss said.

He linked the situation to the delay of the national Government to meet up with its promise of paying the fees for public school students, because of this, they could not bring in those portions of consignment for just students in private schools leaving out the public school students.

As you may know, the Government of Liberia in 2020, proclaimed to pay the WAEC fees of all 9th and 12th graders in public schools in the Country.

The WAEC boss disclosed that private institutions met up with their obligation to them (WAEC), but the government had a little delay in disbursing the funds.

He however extends his institution’s apologist to those junior high students that couldn’t get their customized mathematical set for the test which created some difficulty for them.

“Since we couldn’t overcome the challenges of getting the customized mathematical set from our overseer supplier, we went to some local vendors to supply us,” Gboteo, WAEC boss said.

Conclusion: Our research shows that 98% of ninth-graders received their calculators, and the pupils paid seven US dollars, not the five US dollars that the journalist and other social media users reported. Additionally, it is proven that only three of the fifteen counties—Montserrado, Grand Bassa, and a piece of Margibi—did not receive some of the manor calculators.

This story was produced with the Center for Journalism Innovation and Development (CJID) support.


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