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Stakeholders agree: Get rid of the SEA

By SUE-ANN WAYOW

SHOULD Education Minister Dr Tim Gopeesingh scrap the
Secondary Entrance Assessment (SEA) examination today, he can
expect the support of principals, teachers and parents.

On Sunday, Gopeesingh said he was " welcoming suggestions to do away with the dreadful SEA examination."

Yesterday, president of the National Primary Schools' Principals' Association (NAPSPA) Vallence Rambharat said the exam was a burden.

He said: "The SEA is a very onerous examination placed on 11-year-old pupils. It is a lot of stress on teachers, educators, parents and pupils. Additionally the academic focus of the assessment is on cognitive ability. Students of varying abilities are disadvantaged by the examination. SEA is an assessment designed for placement of pupils but not an assessment of a pupil's true potential."

Rambharat said:"The issue is really what system you will have to replace a placement examination, because all secondary schools are not equal, and that is an issue we will have to grapple with. We support the complete removal of the SEA from the system, and that it be replaced by a seamless entry in the secondary schools using a system of continuous assessment from First Year to Standard Five."
The Continuous Assessment Component (CAC) aspect of the exam was first introduced in 2012. Pupils are assessed based on assignments completed in Standards Four and Five. The marks obtained from those assignments form part of the final mark given for the SEA exam.

President of the National Parent Teacher Association (NPTA) Zena Ramatali said although the NPTA supported any attempt to stop the examination, certain measures needed to be put in place to avoid problems.

There would be a need for additional staff, guidance officers, more parental involvement and proper communication from the Ministry of Education, she said.

Additional programmes in arts, drama, dance and music were also required, Ramatali said.

She said: "It must be circulated that students have at least 80 per cent attendance to be able to get into secondary school to prevent parents from keeping their children at home, and then expect that all children will go to secondary school."
She said: "Principals should ensure greater parental involvement from First Year to Standard Five and also there must be awareness programmes, educating them (parents) on the importance of the CAC.

Children in foster homes and differently abled children should also be exposed to all programmes, Ramatali added.

President of the Trinidad and Tobago Unified Teachers' Association (TTUTA) Devanand Sinanan in response to Gopeesingh's statement had said it was a " welcome move."

He said: "We have known for quite some time that we need to get rid of the SEA."

(from the Multimedia Desk)
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