Saturday, August 13, 2011

African university runs out of paper

University students at Sierra Leone's respected Fourah Bay College were unable to take their final exams because of a lack of paper. The principal, Prof Thomas Yormah, told the more than 4,000 angry students on campus that the exams were postponed until new stationary arrived. In February 2011, the college's first semester exams were delayed by two weeks as it lacked classroom furniture. Prof Yormah said that there had been some hitch in preparing the examination booklets, but promised a commission of enquiry would get to the bottom of the matter. "I'm very disappointed that Fourah Bay College, once the Athens of West Africa, is faced with this embarrassing situation," student activist Siman-Allie Mans-Conteh said about the exam debacle. Another student felt there was no excuse for the college authorities to be so disorganized. "Students have paid their fees and we expect the management to ensure that students take their exams on time," he said. Prof Yormah admitted that the situation was embarrassing. "But you have to understand we do not have adequate resources to cater for the demands that we have for our programs," he said. The college - which is part of the University of Sierra Leone - complains that the fees they are allowed to charge students are very low, ranging from between $200 and $800 a year. The central government does not allow for increased fees and the subsidy it receives is paltry, the college says. It is common to see students at the college standing outside a classroom listening in to a lecture, or lectures being held outdoors. Those who have space in the classrooms sit on benches not chairs.

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