After months of studying and sacrifice pupils in south Trinidad yesterday expressed relief and happiness after sitting the Secondary Entrance Assessment.
“I am very relieved and I feel very happy because now I could get to do a lot of fun activities with my family and friends,” said Trishna Sookdeo shortly after leaving the examination room at Debe Hindu Primary School.
She was among 54 pupils who wrote the exam at the Debe school. Rushing into the arms of their parents who waited anxiously for them, the pupils said there were minor errors in the Mathematics paper, but it did not affect them.
The pupils said in that paper the marks were left out for some questions and the wrong unit was put at the end of one question. “It (exam) was not difficult it was tricky,” said Debe Hindu pupil Medhaalliyah Maharaj Khan.
Describing the last few months as hard, the children said they had to make sacrifices and attend a lot of lessons. She gave up “many electronics, many family time, talking with my friends. “It was time-consuming the teachers and the principals and teachers did very hard work.” Sylverene Ashook of Woodland Hindu said she felt overwhelmed as she had lessons in the morning and evening.”
She wants her parents to take her to Playdium while Liana Richardson, of San Fernando Girls’ Government School, wants to travel the world.
Parents felt it was unfair that less than a year before the exam the Ministry of Education changed the syllabus. Karen Boodram, a parent of Debe Hindu, said “It is too much and since they change the syllabus it really challenging for the children. Too much of work. They did not get much time for themselves. They should have done it a year before because it was really hard. They (students) come out saying the work was a bit hard and she is a well round student. What they teach they did not give them in the SEA. The children had to figure it out themselves.”
She was in favour of the exam being phased out. Sookdeo’s grandfather Krishna Sookdeo said the exam caused his granddaughter a lot of stress.
He said, “I saw her putting a bottle of ice water behind her neck yesterday.” He suggested that instead of SEA the children should be placed according to how they perform in their exams from the time they enter the school. Trinidad and Tobago Unified Teachers Association president (TTUTA) Lynsley Doodhai said teachers reported to him that some students encountered problems with the Mathematics paper and could not finish it in time.
He noted that this was the first year of the new SEA framework which required more reading and the children had to engage in more critical thinking to arrive at the solution. Doodhai said the errors were detected after the test papers were printed, but an errata sheet was provided with the corrections. He could not say what the errors entailed.
- by Sascha Wilson