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Adrift at SEA

Thursday, July 5, 2018

To SEA or not to SEA, that is the question, with apologies to Shakespeare’s Hamlet.

The euphoria that erupts on the day that the results of the Secondary Entrance Assessment exams are released masks the stark reality that we have failed to find a process which measures students over a period of time for placement in our secondary schools.

For decades teachers have undertaken the responsibility of preparing primary school students for a test that evokes fear and trepidation for their parents, forcing them into incurring the cost of “extra lessons” to ensure that their charges get the pass mark for Grammar and Mathematics.

However, as we celebrate the top achievers, some 2500-plus students are disappointed not to pass, regarded as failures since they scored less than 30% of the marks required.

So while we celebrate successful students with cinema tickets, ice cream and cake and even trips abroad, the “failures” suffer the indignity of being referred to as not good enough for secondary school.

Their fate is sealed unless they have an opportunity to repeat or the Ministry of Education provides the opportunity for placing in remedial schools.

Past attempts to replace the SEA with continuous assessment have failed, and some of the blame for student failure wrongly placed on teachers. There is no doubt that teachers and parents invest a great deal of their time and money to ensure that students are ready for the examinations. The continuous assessment would be a far better system to put an end to the pressure students and parents now endure in a one-off exercise.

All together for CARICOM, CSME

Yesterday’s ceremonial opening of the 39th Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community at the Montego Bay Conference Centre revives the debate about the value of the grouping and the progress of integration.

CARICOM Secretary-General Irwin LaRocque reminded us of the significance of Montego Bay serving as the host for critical decisions stretching back to 1947.

The Montego Bay summit welcomed three prime ministers who were winners at recent polls - Mia Mottley of Barbados and Grenada’s Dr Keith Mitchell, who both had clean sweeps, as well as Gaston Browne, Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda.

The third president of the Caribbean Court of Justice, Adrian Saunders, was also sworn in yesterday in Montego Bay.

Among the agenda items are the CSME, inaugurated some 12 years ago, the ease of doing business and movement of skilled persons.

LaRocque quoted former Jamaica Prime Minister Bruce Golding’s statement that “the value of regional integration is as relevant and useful and even more urgent if we are to achieve a brighter future.” It is the hope of many Caribbean people who still believe in regional unity.

Thank you Mr Rajiv Dipnarinesingh

While we salute the response of Chaguanas businessman Rajiv Dipnarinesingh, who readily provided the funds for a baby who needed necessary tests, we must ask the question why this kind of appeal is still required? Is Government not responsible for dealing with such emergencies?


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