Liberia’s education minister says she finds it hard to believe that not a single candidate passed this year’s university admission exam.
Nearly 25,000 school-leavers failed the test for admission to the University of Liberia, one of two state-run universities.
The students lacked enthusiasm and did not have a basic grasp of English, a university official told the BBC.
Liberia is recovering from a brutal civil war that ended a decade ago.
President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, a Nobel peace laureate, recently acknowledged that the education system was still “in a mess”, and much needed to be done to improve it.
Many schools lack basic education material and teachers are poorly qualified, reports the BBC’s Jonathan Paye-Layleh from the capital, Monrovia.
However, this is the first time that every single student who wrote the exam for a fee of $25 (£16) has failed, our reporter says.
It means that the overcrowded university will not have any new first-year students when it reopens next month for the academic year.
Students told him the result was unbelievable and their dreams had been shattered, our reporter adds.
Education Minister Etmonia David-Tarpeh told the BBC Focus on Africa programme that she intended to meet university 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,” Ms David-Tarpeh said. “It’s like mass murder.”
Ms David-Tarpeh said she knew some of the students and the schools they attended.
“These are not just schools that will give people grades. I’d really like to see the results of the students,” she added.
University spokesman Momodu Getaweh told Focus on Africa that the university stood by its decision, and it would not be swayed by “emotion”.
“In English, the mechanics of the language, they didn’t know anything about it. So the government has to do something,” he said.
“The war has ended 10 years ago now. We have to put that behind us and become realistic.”