Africa

Sierra Leone university runs out of paper for exams

Archive photograph of a student at Fourah Bay Colleage in Sierra Leone in 2006 Image copyright bbc
Image caption Fourah Bay College, founded in 1827, charges students between $200 and $800 a year

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 the exams would be postponed until new stationery arrived next week.

"This is a shame to our society," one student told the BBC.

In February, the college's first semester exams were delayed by two weeks as it lacked classroom furniture.

'Embarrassed'

Prof Yormah told the BBC 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 Thursday's exam debacle.

Another student felt there was no excuse for the college authorities to be so disorganised.

"Students have paid their fees and we expect the management to ensure that students take their exams on time," he said.

Prof Yormah admitted 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 programmes," 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 (£125) and $800 a year.

The central government does not allow for increased fees and the subsidy it receives is paltry, the college says.

The BBC's Umaru Fofana in the capital, Freetown, 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, he says.

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