Sunday, December 17, 2017

Abolish ‘stressful’ SEA exam

TTUTA calls for more continuous assessment


jumping for joy: Pupils of Cocoyea Government Primary School celebrate after completing their Secondary Entrance Assessment (SEA) yesterday. —Photo: DAVE PERSAD

Mark Fraser

THE Secondary Entrance Assessment (SEA) should be abolished immediately because of un­due stress it causes pu­pils, parents and teachers.

And it should be replaced with a more “for­ma­tive approach” that includes continuous assessments which were more reliable.

This is according to first vice-president of the Trinidad and Tobago Unified Teachers’ Associ­a­tion (TTUTA) Davanand Sina­nan, who said assessments will reveal pupils’ competency more than the “narrow” SEA.

Sinanan made the comments after a Standard Five pupil committed suicide on Wednesday, the day before the examination.

Sinanan said it was “cruel and inhumane” to have 11-year-olds and 12-year-olds sit for three hours writing an examination, just to be placed into a secondary school.

He said: “We would have always indicated that SEA and the preparation for SEA is indeed a very stressful process. We put children through a lot of pressure to prepare them for this examination, and it is some­-

thing that we have to take stock of as a country.”

He asked: “Why are we doing this? Why are we subjecting our children to this process that really is only about getting children from primary to secondary school? And we have universal secondary education?”

“We have really created an artificial kind of problem by perpetuating this system of prestige and non-prestige schools. It is something we have to take serious note of. It is totally unnecessary,” Sinanan said.

He said parents were sometimes more stressed than children and they transferred that anxiety to the child.

Sinanan told the Express that TTU­TA was extremely saddened by the boy’s death and they did not want to speculate whe­ther the SEA was the influencing factor.

“It is something that really rocks you as a tea­cher when you hear that a child would resort to that kind of drastic action. Our sympathies and heart really go out to the parents and the family members and the pupils and teachers who would have been interac­ting with this child,” he said.