Parents: Syllabus challenging for children

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

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