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 However, some of these stakeholders say they believe it should not be published.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