University Of Liberia Entrance Exams Failed By Every School Leaver Due To Poor English

27/08/2013 11:39 BST | Updated 27/08/2013 12:06 BST
Volunteer student member of Young Men Christian Association being driven out of the University of Liberia, Monrovia past ECOMIL armoured tank stationed at the university main gate, after cleaning up the school, 30 August, 2003. The closure of the university since the advent of hostilities culminating in war between government and the rebels, has left the institution in tatters. ' We want to give light and hope to the community', says Lewis Lamadine, one of the student volunteers. AFP PHOTO PIUS UTOMI EKPEI (Photo credit should read PIUS UTOMI EKPEI/AFP/Getty Images)

A university in West Africa will be left without first-year students after not one school leaver in the country managed to pass its entrance exam due to a poor grasp of English, it has emerged.

Liberia's young people have had their dreams shattered, according to the BBC, while the country's education minister has likened the catastrophic failure to "mass murder".

Education Minister Etmonia David-Tarpeh told the BBC Focus on Africa programme she would be meeting with the University of Liberia's officials to discuss the failure rate.

"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," she said. "It's like mass murder."

The head of the West African Examinations Council (WAEC) John Gayflor confirmed the exam failed to produce a single successful candidate, according to news site All Africa. Around 25,000 students took the exams earlier this year.

The country's education was blighted by the two civil wars which plagued Liberia between 1989 and 2003. In 2010, the literacy rate stood at little more than 60%. Although education up to 16 years is compulsory, enforcement is lax and young people in rural villages have "no hope of ever stepping foot into a classroom" - according to the Liberia Education Project charity.

A spokesperson for the university, which is Liberia's largest and second oldest, told the BBC the university stood by its decision, and the fault lay with the government.

"In English, the mechanics of the language, they didn't know anything about it. So the government has to do something.

"The war has ended 10 years ago now. We have to put that behind us and become realistic."