TTUTA President Antonia De Freitas

Rishard Khan

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Although the Ministry of Education consulted with main stakeholders in determining the August 20 date for the Secondary Entrance Assessment (SEA), some of them said yesterday they would have preferred the date initially suggested by Minister Anthony Garcia.

T&T Unified Teacher’s Association (TTUTA) president Antonia De Freitas was one of the first to admit they were still not comfortable with the August date.

“The general council had agreed to previously and reiterated in a meeting yesterday that TTUTA would want to stick with the date of SEA being done sometime in October,” De Freitas told Guardian Media in a telephone interview yesterday.

“The reasons being, when school reopened in September on September 1st, you would allow the students enough time – four to six weeks after the reopening – to return to the routine, to reacclimatise, to deal with any psychosocial issues they may have experienced and helped to build their confidence and motivation.”

She said the earlier date means there is no guarantee that students would be in a state of readiness.

“We are not sure that rushing to do these examinations in August and the secondary (CSEC and CAPE exams) in July will be in the best interest of our students going forward,” she said.

She also indicated that the general council did not feel that financial incentives should have been used to motivate teachers. She said teachers would “continue to seek the needs of students as far as they need to it.”

National Primary Schools’ Principals Association president Lance Mottley said they also preferred the October date which, he said, they suggested to Garcia. However, he noted principals would continue to do their duty to their assist students through the period.

“Notwithstanding the fact that we had proposed an October date, we will do what is necessary as principals to one – support our students who will be doing this exam on August 20 as announced by the ministry and also to support our teachers who will be involved in the preparation of these students for this exam,” Mottley said.

However, Rachiel Ramsamooj, the administrator of the Secondary Entrance Assessment (SEA) Parent Support Group on Facebook, which has some 10,000 members, told Guardian Media in a telephone interview that they were satisfied with the August 20 date and believe it to be safer.

She said it allows the students to write the exam before the reopening of the school term, which would lead to less interaction with the rest of the school population and decrease the risk of COVID-19 spread if any. She said the announcement of the date also now gives the students clarity and relieves them from the stress waiting in anticipation.

“These children have not really been settled since the postponement of the SEA … let them get it done so it won’t be hanging over their heads you know?” she said.

Attempts to contact National Parent Teachers Association president Zena Ramatali were unsuccessful last evening as she did not answer her cellphone.