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Queries over SEA placements

Some parents and students unhappy...
Thursday, July 3, 2014
Students of Standard Five of Arima Girls’ RC School celebrate after receiving their SEA results yesterday. PHOTO: ABRAHAM DIAZ

Keen competition among students in this year’s Secondary Entrance Assessment (SEA) exam has resulted in outstanding individual performances. However, principals, students and parents were yesterday left with many questions and concerns about the criteria used to assign students to secondary schools.



The T&T Guardian was told that many parents and students sought clarification on the marking scheme and factors used to decide to which school the students were assigned, since they were unhappy with the schools they were placed in based on the marks they achieved. 


Principals at several primary schools along the East-West Corridor said there were improved performances this year and attributed that to the introduction of the Continuous Assessment Component (CAC), which they believed helped students to excel in certain areas and improve their overall marks used by the Ministry of Education to determine their placement.


Offering congratulations to staff, students and parents at the El Dorado South Hindu School yesterday was Legal Affairs Minister and recently re-elected leader of the Congress of the People, Prakash Ramadhar, who urged the students to keep striving for success as they transitioned from that phase of their life into another. He said: “There is no limit to what you can do. You have an unlimited ability and capacity to achieve whatever you want.”


Ramadhar’s remarks were brief as he hurried to visit several other schools in the area. Referring to the high pass rates recorded by denominational schools, Ramadhar said: “These are centres of excellence we are seeing developing more and more throughout the country. “It takes the dedication of the staff, principal and parents working as a cohesive team to make that happen. It is critically important for children to feel loved and cared for, as they perform better because they are comfortable in that learning space.”


Asked if he thought the replication of these systems in government-run primary schools might yield similar pass rates, Ramadhar replied: “There are a number of factors, such as discipline, a sense of value, tradition and community, that is needed to make any institution all-embracing. “I am confident the Education Minister can do it as he is a progressive and innovative man who will consider everything and it is probably something we might see being done in the future.”



Benefits from cac plan

Of the 83 students who wrote the SEA exam at the El Dorado South Hindu School, 55 attained placements at seven-year schools while 28 secured places at five-year schools. Among them was Kabir Singh, the son of the Minister of Environment and Water Resources Ganga Singh, who expressed delight and satisfaction with the school’s results. An upbeat Kabir, who passed for Presentation College (Chaguanas), his first choice, later said:  “I am looking forward to the future and what’s ahead as I make new friends.”


Principal Adesh Maharaj attributed the high pass-rate to the “impeccable planning of the previous administrator and the dedication of the hard-working teachers.” He also highlighted the Baal Vikaas programme conducted in all Hindu primary schools as one of the main reasons his students secured such good placements. 



This sentiment was also expressed by the principal at the Tunapuna Hindu School, Jeewan Ramdhanie, who said 84 students wrote the exam, with 57 securing places at seven-year schools and 27 at five-year schools. He also supported the CAC, which, he said, was having a positive impact on some students. Reiterating that the system used in denominational schools, which normally begins with religious knowledge daily, Ramdhanie said: “Putting God first would play a great role in guiding children along the right path.”  


When the T&T Guardian visited the Tunapuna Boys’ RC School, parents could be seen awaiting their turn to meet with principal Terrence Caesar to discuss their children’s results. Long faces and tears were spilt as some students cried when the results were announced. Caesar explained that although his 48 boys achieved good individual scores and he was happy with their performance, “because of choices and the order of them, some of the placements were not what we expected.”


Principal of the St Joseph TML, Rasheed Ali, said of the 75 students who wrote the exam, 40 were able to secure places at seven-year schools, with the remaining number being assigned to five-year schools. Ali also expressed concern over the marking system, as he said the scores of some students were “moderated.” However, he said, this year’s results had improved over last year’s. He vowed to ensure a higher pass rate next year.



Arielle heads to disney

Arielle Rambharose always knew she would be a top scorer in the SEA. “I was expecting this. I feel great. It is amazing to achieve this great accomplishment,” Rambharose told reporters at her school yesterday. Her mother, Lisa Rambharose, a librarian of Barrackpore West Secondary, said her daughter was well deserving of the accolade. 


“She worked hard and she was confident all the while that she will do well,” Lisa said. Father Kailindra Rambharose, who works as an operations technician at Atlantic LNG, said he planned to take Rambharose to Disney World for the August vacation. “It will be a six-week vacation. She deserves it,” Kailindra said as he whisked her up in his arms. Rambharose said she was excited to start a new phase of her life, adding she wanted to become a pediatrician.



2014 stats

• 8.9 per cent of students scored above 90 per cent, as compared to 5.9 per cent in 2010. 

• 65.2 per cent of students, a total of 11,898, scored above 60 per cent, as compared to 51 per cent in 2008. 

• A record 78.7 per cent, 14,360 students, scored above 50 per cent, as compared to the previous 68 per cent high in 2009. 

• 4.4 per cent of students scored below the 30 per cent, compared to 13.3 per cent in 2008.



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