It is an uncomfortable reality that the concept of fairness and equality can be transactional.
The battle lines have been drawn between the “haves” and the “have nots.” Easy answers prevail when we should be prompted to have a wider conversation. A grand deception lies at the heart of the deception. The deliberate use of red tape and bureaucracy to cover-up intentional and callous injustice and unfairness. It is an uncomfortable reality that the concept of fairness and equality can be transactional.
In recent weeks, I have been discussing the impact of the Secondary Entrance Assessment (SEA) examination on sport in T&T. There are two sides to a coin and as such a strong argument can be made for the retention of the SEA in its current incarnation. Some will argue that the SEA is a meritocracy but is it? Is the SEA a meritocracy?
Scant attention is paid to the negative impact of SEA on sports. Parents, with few exceptions, sacrifice physical activity/sports in an effort to ensure a coveted first choice placement (in the main the parents’ first choice, not the child’s).
For some talented child with potential in sport, the education system is not sport friendly. It is an uphill battle and from early they learn it is either or, as a sport takes away valuable time from SEA preparation. After school, SEA private lessons curtail the free time for extracurricular activities.
There are secondary schools that fail to adequately embrace a culture of physical education and for students passing for such a school, the end result is that participating in sport at a high level is no longer an option.
In a recent newspaper article, University of the West Indies (UWI) professor Jerome De Lisle cautioned about the SEA creating false negatives that emanate from an elitist world view.
The SEA is a tool and like all tools, it can be used for good but it can also be misused.
By way of example - What about the student who was given a lower mark - the parents query the mark. The Ministry of Education investigates and the mark is revised upward in first choice range but in a cruel twist of fate, the Ministry of Education informs the parents that it is too late to place the student in his/her first choice.
The solution: wait for Form Two; no success; and no opportunity to get a hearing. The impact? A disillusioned 12-year-old loses interest in sporting activity. The anger and resentment internalised to appear as at-risk behaviour.
It is easy to be condescending and say that is life and it is good for the nation’s children to learn the reality of life from the SEA but the negative impact on a child’s life is not a trivial matter.
The race for SEA first may well be a race to the bottom.