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2021 WASSCE Analysis… Students Meeting University Requirement Increased by 1,540%, 2019-2021

The 2021 West African Senior Secondary Certificate Examination (WASSCE) analysis has shown that the number of students meeting university requirements has increased astronomically by fifteen-fold from 3,156 in 2019 to 51,748 students in 2021.

For direct entry to a first full-degree programme in Sierra Leone, universities require a minimum of 5 credits of which one must be English Language and/or Mathematics. In this regard, results are also vastly improved. More females than males now meet university requirements. This represents a momentous achievement for Sierra Leonean students. As many more are eligible for entry to degree-awarding institutions, Sierra Leone can expect a surge in students seeking tertiary education.

“Since the introduction of FQSE, the government combined spending on national examinations and tuition has increased over 400 per cent. The progress we’ve made in transforming education in the last couple of years is unprecedented. The number of learners enrolled in schools increased tremendously by almost 700,000. The data collected also reveal a significant increase in the number of schools approved for Government support. 53.4% of pre-primary, 78.7% of primary, 76.7% of junior secondary and 80.4% of senior secondary schools are now approved. In 2018 less than half of the schools across basic and senior secondary were approved to receive government support. Students now have the opportunity to attempt the WASSCE twice with the government paying for them. These factors among others have resulted in the tremendous increase in the number of students getting requirements in WASSCE,” according to the Minister of Basic and Senior Secondary Education Dr David Moinina Sengeh.

In 2021, 62,559 students obtained 5 credits or more in a single sitting. This is more than a 10-fold increase over the 2018 performance with 5,797 students, representing step-change improvement.

In 2021, 156,231 candidates sat the WASSCE, an all-time high. Since 2018, this number has increased by a total of 354%. For the first time in recent years, the female candidates sitting WASSCE outnumbered the male candidates.

The number of candidates sitting WASSCE has increased by 354% from 2018-to 21, reaching a record 156,231 students with more female students than male students sitting WASSCE, a first in recent Sierra Leonean history. The pass rate for individual papers has climbed from 38% in 2019 to 64% in 2021 with the number of students obtaining the benchmark 5 credits in a single sitting has increased by 979% from 2018-to 2021.

“In 2021 more than 60,000 students obtained the benchmark score for WASSCE 2021, which is more than the previous 5 years combined. The top student sat and passed all 9 of his subjects with an average grade of 1.58, i.e. something better than a B2. He attended a government-assisted school and obtained 6 A1 grades,” according to the analysis.

Three of the top six students by average grade attended government-assisted schools. Across the districts, 67% of the top students by average grade attended government-assisted schools and the top school saw 100% of its candidates obtain the benchmark 5 credits with an average grade of 2.90, i.e. approximately a B3. Among the top 5 schools, 3 are government-assisted.

The pass rates for English Language and Mathematics are 45% and 66% respectively. Males outperform females in the English Language in most districts and in the nation as a whole. For mathematics, the opposite was true with females outperforming males in most districts and in the nation as a whole.

There remains a large variation in performance across subjects. Of the ten subjects with the most candidates sitting, Principles of Cost Accounting saw the highest pass rate (85%) and English Literature the lowest (10%).

There remains a large variation in performance across districts, including for English and Mathematics pass rates, for obtaining the benchmark 5 credits, and for obtaining the university requirements for a full first degree programme.

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