THE Secondary Entrance Assessment (SEA) has been derailing the entire educational system.
That was the view of Acting Chief Educational Officer Harrilal Seecharan during an interview with the Express on Monday at the Ministry of Education, St Clair.
Seecharan was commenting on the benefits of the Continuous Assessment Component (CAC) that will replace the SEA's current three- subject final exam format, which has been to the detriment of the children.
"When we have only 40 per cent of the students getting five and six subjects, including Maths, that tells you that something is wrong.
"The current approach where we've been focusing only on two areas has in fact derailed our entire education system. We are talking about 21st century skills," Seecharan said.
He said the CAC will widen the skill set of the children and better prepare them to face the workload at the secondary school level.
He added that, with the current system, "we are not doing as well as we should" and the CAC is 25 years too late.
Seecharan said the implementation may appear as though the Ministry of Education was rushing it but that is due to the slow pace at which other programmes have been launched in the past.
He added that the 12 days of training for the teachers will be conducted by curriculum and former curriculum teachers who are qualified to teach their subject areas.
The subject areas that will fall under the CAC are: Character Education and Citizenship, Visual and Performing Arts, Physical Education, Agri-Science, Science, Maths and Language Arts.
Seecharan said the biggest concern so far is the need for greater stakeholder engagement and responses in schools.
He added that the necessary funds are available to equip the schools with both the physical and human resources needed to teach the subjects.
He said the aim is to assist children who are struggling and bring them up to par with their excelling classmates while maintaining the high standard the exceeding pupils face.
"The CAC is part of a wider strategy that the Ministry of Education has which stems from two years ago following an assessment of the curriculum. The CAC is one of the priority areas that have been identified," said Seecharan, adding that ideas such as universal early childhood education, SEA date change and regular teacher training are some other initiatives to improve the system.
He said the aim is to make learning fun and the CAC will provide avenues for both parent and child to be kept abreast of the child's progress.
"To ensure that the grading is reliable, a very rigorous monitoring system is put in place to ensure that the marks are fair, valid and reliable," Seecharan said.
He added that the Caribbean Examination Council (CXC) has been contacted to have the final say regarding the children's grade.
Both the Ministry of Education and the schools themselves have the power to review the children's results, but only CXC can adjust their grades.