Entrance exam abolition splits Conakry staff

July 12, 2002

The National University of Guinea in Conakry has abolished its entrance exam, a move that has divided staff. Instead, successful baccalaureate candidates can apply directly for admission.

Lecturers in medicine, pharmacy and engineering fear that the move will open the door to mediocre students with political connections, denying better, poorer students a place.

"This so-called reform is aimed at ensuring that some children of the political class come into the university through the back door," said Ibrahim Diop, a lecturer in the faculty of medicine.

About 40,000 successful baccalaureate candidates sit the entrance exam each year. The governing council, which made the change, gave no official reason for its decision.

"Since the university is not autonomous, it is likely that influential politicians decided to cancel the qualifying examinations," said Ahmed Bubakar, a lecturer at the faculty of engineering.

But some staff disagree. "There is no scientific proof to show that those who did not do well at the entrance examinations cannot perform better than the so-called brilliant ones," said Ismaila Buba, a social sciences lecturer.

Supporters of the reform admitted, however, that admissions criteria could be abused and there would not be sufficient resources if intakes were not limited.

Meanwhile, the children of the rich who might benefit continue to queue up at western embassies to get student visas.

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