The SEA Parent Support Group is divided on whether or not parents really are the ones to blame for placing “stress” on the shoulders of the students writing the exam.
Responding to claims by Minister of Education Anthony Garcia that parents are the ones responsible, Reshma Ramoutar-Ackbarali said, “I totally disagree.”
The proud parent of a daughter who passed for her first choice in this year’s SEA exam, Ramoutar-Ackbarali said, “All parents want the best for their children and will do what they have to do to make them have a fair chance, so I don’t agree with that statement.”
Speaking on the issue during an interview at Guardian Media Limited yesterday, several members of the group argued that Garcia spoke out of turn when he claimed that parents were responsible for placing an inordinate amount of pressure on their children by pushing them to achieve the highest levels of academic excellence.
However, the group’s founder Rachiel Ramsamaooj presented a contrasting view as she tentatively admitted, “I think there is some truth in that.”
Ramsamooj responded, “Yes, you do have some parents who are pushing their children a little too much and the choices that you have is not what the child wants but more what the parent wants in some cases.”
Member Roashion Persadie agreed there was some truth as he said the output was a direct result of the effort by the student, coupled with the parents’ wishes and also the education system.
He stressed that each group had to maintain realistic goals while focusing on where the gaps exist and how they can be remedied.
Mathematics tutor Ronnie Williams added, “You really have to look at all stakeholders…teachers, parents and the children so it’s not that easy to point at one person and say you are at fault or you are the one who’s causing the system to break down.”
Dr Kerrilee Stewart of UWI called on the Ministry of Education to carefully examine their part in the entire process as she said all parties had to stop passing the buck and accept responsibility for the part they each play in preparing students for SEA.
Asked to identify the source of stress that parents undergo, Persadie said, “The children are precious and we value them so much and there is an emotional side. One can’t disconnect that.”
He said this is where the need for “soft skills” came in as parents may mean well but are unaware of how to deliver and may inadvertently transfer that emotion onto the child—which he acknowledged formed the basis of Garcia’s argument.
With regards to the 2019 SEA exam, Ramoutar-Ackbarali claimed, “I personally felt we weren’t prepared for the changes for this exam. The kids who sat this year felt as if we were the guinea pigs for all the changes the ministry set out.”
She disagreed that teachers and students had had two years to prepare as specimen papers were only released in November 2018, while the SEA exam was scheduled for April 4.
The group acceded that while there is a need to develop critical thinkers, students had been trained via a certain system from preschool and to impose the new model without adequate time and training, was detrimental to their performance.
Reporter: Anna-Lisa Paul