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Tim: Search on for better system

...extends condolences

By Kim Boodram

EDUCATION Minister Dr Tim Gopeesingh yesterday issued condolen­ces to the family of a 13-year-old boy who committed suicide on the eve of sitting the 2014 Secon­dary Entrance Assessment (SEA) and said Gov­ernment continues to look for ways to make the exam experience easier for the thousands of pupils who sit every year.

A sombre Gopee­­singh, speaking at yesterday’s post-Cabinet ses­sion at the Office of the Prime Minister in St Clair, said news that De­vindra Boodoo had hanged himself on Wed­nesday evening was “trau­matic”.

Boodoo, of Sadhoo Trace, El Socorro, was discovered in the bathroom by his grandfather.

He was a pupil of the El Socorro Hindu Primary School.

Responding to comments from the Trinidad and Tobago Unified Tea­chers’ Association (TTU­TA) that the three-hour exam was “inhumane”, Gopeesingh said changes continue to be implemen­ted until wider solutions to the placement exam are found.

“This motivates us to continue to search for a system that will not be as high-pressure as these examinations are,” Go­peesingh said.

In a news release on the child’s death yesterday, the Ministry of Education had stated mem­-

bers of the Student Support Services went to the El Socorro Primary Hin­du School at 7 a.m. yesterday to counsel tea­-

ch­e­rs and pupils. 

The SEA began at 9 a.m. and was completed around noon.

This year also marked Government’s fifth series of laptop distribution for Form One pupils, with some 18,400 systems to be tendered for this year, Go­peesingh said.

This will facilitate the 18,345 pupils who sat yesterday’s exam, of which 359 children were those with special needs.

He said it was expec­ted the laptops, which first cost around $4,000 when Government began the distribution, will be cheaper due to highly competitive bidding.

A further 1,500 laptops will be issued to tea­chers while an additional 1,000 extra batteries will be purchased and a $10 million maintenance fund for the laptops has been approved.

Government has so far given out around 68,850 laptops to Form Ones, and while the systems are equipped with an administrative function to prevent pupils from accessing non-educational or adult websites, children are find­-

ing ways to do it, Gopeesingh admitted.

He said this problem is being explored by the ministry, technicians and school principals and solutions to reduce the improper use of the sys­-

tems are coming.

Government is also allocating more compu­ter laboratories in primary and secondary schools and the introduction of interactive whiteboards with projectors for about 150 schools. 

A news release from the ministry yesterday said the examination was mostly incident free. But it expressed sorrow over Boo­­doo’s death.

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