By Alfred Koroma
Public universities in Sierra Leone have begun with entrance exams for university applicants as demanded by the Ministry of Technical and Higher Education with massive failures reported already.
The issue of conducting entrance exams for students leaving secondary schools was breath by the outcome of this year’s West African Senior Secondary School Certificate Examinations (WASSCE) which saw a record number of passes in the country’s history.
Over 70 percent of pupils passed the exams with 63% and 90% pass rate reported for the two most difficult to pass subjects – English Language and Mathematics respectively. More candidates achieved direct entry into degree programmes in the 2022 WASSCE compared to previous exams.
The headline pass rate triggered a rise in application for admission into universities within the country, propelling the Minister of Technical and Higher Education, Professor Alhaji Tejan Wurie, to pass order for an entrance examination to screen applicants before they are enrolled.
According to Wurie, thirty two thousand (32000) students applied for admission to both the University of Sierra Leone (USL) and Njala University.
Njala University had eight thousand (8000) applicants whilst USL, which comprises of Fourah Bay College (FBC), College of Medicine and Allied Health Sciences (COMAHS) and the Institute of Public Administration and Management (IPAM) had twenty four thousand (24000) applicants.
Just by the publication of this year’s questionable WASSCE result, it became predictable that universities were going to experience a rise in the number of applicants for their programs.
The Minister of Basic and Senior Secondary Education Dr. Moinina David Sengeh defended the result, saying the outstanding performance of students in the last WASSCE has come as a result of government‘s steps in boosting the country’s standard of education by ensuring that ‘teachers have teaching guides, students given core textbooks, teachers being trained, together with the radio teaching and past papers made available for students.’
But recent entrance exams conducted are clearly testing Sengeh’s 2022 WASSCE result. And it is proving otherwise.
The performance of students in the recent entrance exams in Njala University does not reflect their WASSCE results. Out of 200 applicants for the Nursing Department in the School of Community Health and Science in Njala, only 41 passed. 159 failed.
Other institutions including FBC, COMAS, and IPAM which experienced more applicants are also considering organizing similar exercise.