All 25,000 individuals who applied to the University of Liberia, one of the African nation’s two universities, exactly zero passed the admissions exam.
The results, which came on August 21, have caused waves of discontent in the country’s academic community.
Liberia is recovering from a violent civil war that came to an end a decade ago, but left its education system “in a mess”, as President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf recently said.
Education Minister Etmonia David-Tarpeh spoke out about the situation, telling the BBC: “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…It’s like mass murder.”
Meanwhile, Momodu Getaweh, a spokesperson for the university, told Britain’s international news channel that there would be no make-up exam, and that the applicants were desperately lacking in enthusiasm when it came to learning.
“In English, the mechanics of the language, they didn’t know anything about it,” Getaweh said.
According to the news site allafrica.com, the University of Liberia had decided to raise its admission standards for the 2013-2014 academic year. Any student seeking a spot at the university needed to score higher than 50% on the maths section and 70% on the English section, as opposed to 33% and 49% the previous year (when 7,500 students were admitted).
Faced with the prospect of empty first-year class rooms, the University of Liberia swiftly adjusted its admission standards for this year, allafrica.com reported. Some 1,626 applicants were ultimately accepted once the minimum passing scores were reset to 40% in maths and 50% in English. The students will all have to attend remedial-level classes to improve their skills.
“[T]he government has to do something,” Getaweh told the BBC. “The war has ended ten years ago now. We have to put that behind us and become realistic.”