To fully appreciate the remarkable accomplishments of the students who collected their 2021 Secondary Entrance Assessment (SEA) exam results yesterday, consider the difficulties experienced by this cohort as they prepared to cross this crucial academic hurdle.
They had only a few months of face-to-face class time before the COVID-19 pandemic forced the closure of schools and they had to quickly adjust to online classes. Almost every stage of their SEA preparations was mired in uncertainty, down to the date that they were finally allowed to sit the exam.
In normal circumstances, this key component of the admissions process for public secondary schools is stressful for candidates, their parents, guardians and teachers. The pandemic elevated those stress levels, so every child that has come through the process this year deserves a standing ovation.
But the highest accolades have been earned by Kirsten Ramsaran, the Rousillac Presbyterian School pupil who was the top SEA performer having scored full marks in all three subject areas.
Also to be applauded are her proud parents, Brent Ramsaran and Anushka Goomansingh-Ramsaran, her teacher Dennis Ghouralal and school principal Robert Seerattan, who all played a role in preparing Kirsten for exam success.
Heartiest congratulations are also extended to Vineetha Kattamanchi, of Maria Regina Grade School, who placed second and the five young students who tied for third place overall—Anya Sybella Ali, of Specialist Learning Centre, Raveena Basdeo, of Montrose Government, Sy’rai Joseph, of Arima Girls’ Government, private candidate Aishani Ramsewak and Isharra Sookdeo, of Clarke Rochard Government.
Tyler Ramroop, of El Dorado North Hindu School, who earned the distinction of being the top SEA male student, placed eighth overall, while in Tobago, Jole St John, of the Scarborough Methodist Primary was the top student with Raeya Charles, of St Andrew’s Anglican School, in second place.
Special needs pupils Aisha Lewis, of the Audrey Jeffers School for the Deaf and Curlan Highley, of the Cascade School for the Deaf, are also among the SEA top performers of 2021.
These youngsters stand out among the 19,656 candidates who wrote the exam this year and fully deserve this moment of glory. This was their time to shine and in doing so, they have made all of T&T proud.
With one challenging chapter of their educational journey now behind them, they move on to secondary school and have more opportunities to succeed.
This year, the 20th anniversary of the SEA, which was introduced in 2001 to replace the Common Entrance exam, was also history-making for many reasons, not the least of which was that it took place amid a pandemic in very uncertain times for T&T and the world.
It is noteworthy that many of the top performers came from smaller, rural schools. Also of note is that girls continue to outperform boys and have again dominated the top spots in the exam.
While there are areas of concern to be addressed, including the needs of students who scored below 30 per cent in the SEA, T&T now celebrates the thousands of boys and girls who overcame adversities and achieved academic success.
Congratulations to all of them.