Three students from the Princess Elizabeth Special School have allegedly been denied the opportunity of sitting the Secondary Entrance Assessment exam even though they were ready for it.
This was revealed by the school’s principal Gerard Frederick during the fifth meeting of the Joint Select Committee on Social Services and Public Administration.
Frederick told the JSC that even though the children were prepared for the examination, the ministry’s School Supervision Department failed to provide support for the children and allow them the opportunity to sit the exams.
Their parents eventually withdrew them from the exams.
Frederick said every year school officials beg for students to be allowed to sit the exam even though it is their right to have equitable access to education.
“We are having problems getting school supervision to allow us to register students to write SEA. SEA is the gateway to further education but this year we were told why we presorting students to write. This might be too much for the child,” Frederick revealed.
He added, “We have been having issues with the supervisor where there are statutory duties of a principal…. Supervisors have overridden the minister’s instructions in the guidelines in how we interact with staff and how we control discipline,” Frederick said.
When asked by Couva MP Rudranath Indarsingh whether he had reported the matter officially to the Chief Education Officer, Frederick said he did but never received a response. He added that he sent another report via registered mail to the ministry.
Frederick also added, “Students of Princes Elizabeth are at a disadvantage because they are rated as primary school students so technical/vocational subjects are not allowed. They are unable to do beauty, culture, commercial food prep which could afford them employment when they leave us at 17 and 18,” he said.
He noted, “We have not had consistent Standard Five students writing the exams. This year we had to beg for three and they were not allowed,” Frederick said.
Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Education Lenore Baptiste-Simmons said she was stumped by the allegation but she said once she receives a report, she will initiate investigations.
Chairman of the JSC Senator Paul Richards said it was not the first time he heard that some students were denied the opportunity to sit the examination.