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Exam pupils knew about mate’s death

Despite efforts to shield them...

By Camille Bethel camille.bethel@trinidadexpress.com

Standard five pupils of the El Socorro Hindu School wrote the Secondary Entrance Assessment (SEA) yesterday, with the knowledge that their classmate had committed suicide the evening before, although parents and teachers withheld the information in an attempt to protect them.

Devindra Boodoo, a 13-year-old SEA pupil of the school was found hanging  by his sister around 4.30 p.m. on Wednesday.

When the Express spoke with parents outside the school after the exam, and just before they were ushered into the schoolyard by the security guard who prevented the media from entering, they said they had not told their children about their schoolmate’s death in an attempt to protect them.

“They don’t know, they don’t know anything as yet. I think they (the teachers) are going to talk to them now that the exam is over because what they did this morning as far as I understand; counsellors were here early about 7 a.m. and the teacher pulled them aside, talked with them about prepping for the exam, gave us a few minutes with them and then they sent them in the exam room immediately. So they had no sort of conversation with each other,” one mother said.

She excused herself from the conversation and entered the school compound followed by several other parents, who were all sent to the upstairs classrooms to meet their children where they had written the exam earlier on. 

The parents, teachers and pupils stayed indoors for about half an hour where bursts of laughter floated out of the classrooms and out into the street.

When they eventually exited the school compound, a father said he knew  the children still had not been informed by the adults about their schoolmate’s death.

“I can’t say what was discussed because that is not my place. What happened to that child was not an easy thing. But I already told my daughter that whatever the outcome I am here for her.

“We put a lot into the schoolwork. I tell her whether she makes it or not I love her the same way because as a parent I will make a way for my children because the tragedy that happen here I don’t want it to happen to my daughter,” he said. 

Another parent who approached the media said the children were told by someone who was at the temple yesterday that “there was an incident at the temple where the child went after school, where a policeman came and told him to get up off his seat and then real people in the temple was telling the child if he doesn’t pass, the SEA, what they would do to him, from what they wouldn’t do to him. 

“So I believe it was the pressure that came from the temple that the child went to...you all need to look at that,” the concerned parent said.

When contacted for comment on the alleged incident at the temple secretary general of the Sanatan Dharma Maha Sabha (SDMS) Sat Maharaj said he had no knowledge of such an incident.

“We have no temple there I don’t know which temple he was going to...we have no temple  near the school. I know the children did their Saraswarti puja earlier in the week. The nearest temple we have is in Barataria and then south of there the highway.

“I don’t know, but that is only one parent telling you that. Why would the child go yesterday to a temple or the family carry him, when the pundit came to the school earlier in the week and all the children sat and did their puja. I can’t add much more to that,” he said adding that there were other factors surrounding the issue.

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