(bobie-lee.dixon @guardian.co.tt

More than the arguments for and against reaching a date for the 2020 Secondary Entrance Assessment (SEA), some education stakeholders are saying whatever the decision, it must ensure the playing field is levelled for all sitting students to have a fair chance.

This resolve comes after Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley during Saturday’s media briefing at the Diplomatic Centre, St Ann’s, revealed an announcement on the date for the exam would come this week.

In Rowley’s delivery, it was noted there were for and against arguments amongst stakeholders for the exam to be sat in October.

He spoke of a “term being sacrificed” if October becomes the chosen time.

However, during a telephone interview, Lance Mottley, president of the National Primary Schools Principals Association (NAPSPA) said, “ I would prefer that we lose a term than we lose children, because this is about children’s education and equity and ensuring that every single child due to sit the SEA has an equal opportunity and chance to do as well as anybody else who is sitting this exam.”

Mottley said the association stood in agreement with TTUTA, that the exam sat anytime before October would be inhumane.

He said during the school closure period it would have been found the disparity between the ‘haves and the have nots’ was widened clearly by the evidence that some would have been able to access internet and internet services and therefore have the opportunity to engage their teachers, while other could not because they simply did not have the means to do so.

Mottley believes this would clearly give an advantage in the exam to those children who would have an opportunity to engage with their teachers.

He said the association put forward a comprehensive proposal and submitted it to both Education Minister Anthony Garcia and the Ministry of Education, indicating why SEA should be done in October and no sooner than.

“We are saying that the children need to resume school and have an interaction with their teachers so they can be settled and better prepared for the exam. Earlier than October would be a travesty and it would be unfair to the vast majority of our students who did not have the opportunity to prepare or participate in online courses,” said Mottley.

The Trinidad and Tobago Unified Teachers Association’s (TTUTA) president Antonia-Tekah-De Freitas also in a telephone interview, reiterated TTUTA’s proposal to do the SEA in October was based on an acceptance of a recommendation that was put forward by Garcia to stakeholders some time previously.

“We agreed with the Minister, and we agreed with the reason cited that we would do the examination in October, to ensure equity and allow students to interact with teachers and so forth,” said Tekah-De Freitas.

She added, “I do not know that as educators we can see any salvaging of a term at this point. The Minister’s proposals were clear and TTUTA agreed to them,—you do the exam in October and therefore the issue of promotion and moving on to secondary school would be addressed accordingly during the restructuring process.”

Tekah-De Freitas, noted, whether the Government changes its mind or not as the exam was an internal examination so the Government could change its mind, whatever it decided to do, she vowed, TTUTA would continue to speak about the inequity and speak about the issues that were affecting students.