Call for end to publishing SEA results Garcia weighing options

The Min­istry of Ed­u­ca­tion is still in con­sul­ta­tion with stake­hold­ers to de­ter­mine whether they should stop pub­lish­ing the re­sults of the Sec­ondary En­trance As­sess­ment (SEA), which will come off to­mor­row, in lo­cal news­pa­pers. How­ev­er, some of these stake­hold­ers say they be­lieve it should not be pub­lished.

Year af­ter year, par­ents have been call­ing on the min­istry to stop the prac­tice, as it caus­es un­due stress on stu­dents. This year, how­ev­er, the min­istry has heed­ed these calls and be­gan con­sul­ta­tions with var­i­ous stake­hold­ers last week.

Through­out the de­bate on pub­lish­ing the re­sults, there have been two ma­jor con­cerns pop­ping up. On one hand, Ed­u­ca­tion Min­is­ter An­tho­ny Gar­cia ar­gues the re­sults have cus­tom­ar­i­ly been pub­lished to en­sure trans­paren­cy.

Speak­ing with Guardian Me­dia yes­ter­day, Gar­cia said: “This ex­am needs to be as trans­par­ent as pos­si­ble and it is felt, on one hand, if the re­sults are pub­lished it would be meet­ing the needs of trans­paren­cy to a larg­er ex­tent.”

How­ev­er, the need for trans­paren­cy now has to be weighed against the rights of the child and par­ents to pri­va­cy and con­fi­den­tial­i­ty.

Gar­cia said the min­istry is not yet ready to make a de­ter­mi­na­tion but they are ex­plor­ing their op­tions.

“Yes­ter­day (Mon­day) at our strate­gic ex­ec­u­tive team meet­ing we dis­cussed that at length. We have not yet come up with a de­ter­mi­na­tion but we are can­vas­ing the views of all our stake­hold­ers be­fore we make a de­ter­mi­na­tion where this is con­cerned,” Gar­cia said.

Dis­cussing the is­sue in a tele­phone in­ter­view, child psy­chol­o­gist Dr Asha Pem­ber­ton said the pol­i­cy needs to be re­vis­it­ed.

“I think the chal­lenge with that stems from the over­ar­ch­ing ex­am­i­na­tion struc­ture, which is that par­ents and chil­dren treat it like a dooms­day phe­nom­e­non. If you don’t meet a cer­tain ex­pec­ta­tion or achieve­ment in school at this point in time, your en­tire fu­ture is over,” Pem­ber­ton said.

She said be­cause of this false nar­ra­tive of the ex­am­i­na­tion, a lot of pres­sure is placed on the chil­dren to suc­ceed at it.

“Be­cause of the pres­sure placed on this ex­am­i­na­tion and its out­come, the ad­di­tion­al fac­tor of the pub­li­cis­ing of the re­sults cer­tain­ly leads to anx­i­ety,” she ex­plained.

“I think our wider per­spec­tive has to change to in­volve the fact that chil­dren are in stages of de­vel­op­ment and their func­tion­ing at one point to­day, April 2019, will not nec­es­sar­i­ly be that in their fu­ture.”

Pem­ber­ton al­so be­lieves that the prac­tice of prin­ci­pals stand­ing in front of the school or class and an­nounc­ing the re­sults should be stopped.

“I know cer­tain­ly in decades gone by that was the way in­for­ma­tion was shared…but I think we have learnt more about the de­vel­op­ing self es­teems and the de­vel­op­ing sense of self of 11, 12-year-olds who re­al­ly are ear­ly ado­les­cents. I think that per­haps ed­u­ca­tors and those in po­si­tions of pow­er should re­vis­it the way in which the in­for­ma­tion is dis­pensed,” she said.

Pem­ber­ton un­der­stands the ar­gu­ment giv­en that the re­sults would be­come ap­par­ent when the child be­gins sec­ondary school. How­ev­er, she be­lieves the child and par­ent should have the pow­er to dis­close their re­sults whom they see fit.

Par­ents’ views should be re­spect­ed

Na­tion­al Pri­ma­ry School Prin­ci­pals As­so­ci­a­tion (NPSPA) pres­i­dent Lance Mot­t­ley says the wish­es of par­ents on the pub­lish­ing of the SEA re­sult should be re­spect­ed.

“If par­ents don’t wish for their child’s re­sults to be pub­lished, then their rights should be re­spect­ed. Not be­cause some­thing has been go­ing on for many years makes it right to­day. Per­haps at the time, it was…con­ve­nient per­haps…but to­day, with de­vel­op­ments in tech­nol­o­gy and com­mu­ni­ca­tion, the ques­tion we need to ask is why is it still be­ing pub­lished?” he said.

T&T Uni­fied Teach­ers’ As­so­ci­a­tion (TTUTA) pres­i­dent Ly­nes­ly Doo­d­hai al­so be­lieves the re­sults should not be pub­lished.

“I would like to sug­gest that be­cause of the times we live in, that the re­sults must not be pub­lished be­cause the re­sults re­al­ly are con­fi­den­tial to the par­tic­u­lar stu­dent who is writ­ing the ex­am­i­na­tion,” he said.

Cit­ing that the same is not done for ex­am­i­na­tions at oth­er lev­els such as the Caribbean Sec­ondary Ex­am­i­na­tion Coun­cil (CSEC) and uni­ver­si­ty ex­am­i­na­tions, he said the SEA re­sults should be done in a sim­i­lar, con­fi­den­tial man­ner.

Guardian Me­dia al­so took to the streets of the na­tion’s cap­i­tal, Port-of-Spain, yes­ter­day to speak to par­ents on the mat­ter and got mixed re­spons­es. Some agreed it should be pub­lished while oth­ers be­lieved it should not.

Reporter: Rishard Khan & Jannelle Benard