Education Minister Anthony Garcia yesterday expressed his surprise that the Trinidad and Tobago Unified Teachers’ Association (TTUTA) and the National Parent Teachers Association (NPTA) sent out a joint release stating their disagreement in Cabinet’s decision to move up the Secondary Entrance Assessment (SEA) examination from May to March.
The SEA has usually been scheduled for the second week of May, after the Easter vacation, but Cabinet, under advisement of the Education Ministry, has changed the schedule to the last week of the second term.
“When this Government came into office we were besieged with a number of requests by a number of stakeholders to give their views on the education system. They said they were asking to make an input and this was discussed at the level of Cabinet and we held a national consultation in February 2016. “Many felt that the SEA being held in May did not make sense. We conferred with our major stakeholders on this issue and it was agreed to move forward the date of the SEA exam,” Garcia said during a news conference at the Education Ministry’s head office, St Vincent Street, Port-of-Spain.
The minister said a meeting had been held on May 2, 2017, among the ministry, TTUTA and the NPTA, represented by both presidents Lynsley Doodhai and Zena Ramatali respectively.
Garcia said it was also agreed that the Continuous Assessment Component (CAC) was put on hold as TTUTA and the NPTA felt the CAC imposed a burden on students who had to write the exam.
Garcia said Doodhai stated when school reopened in April after the Easter vacation they were overworked as they were in school preparing for their exam.
“He urged to let students relax during the days leading up to the exam . He had publicly voiced that the SEA exam be brought forward from May to March,” Garcia said, adding that Ramatali had also assented to the suggestion.
“We were taken by surprise to learn of this media release where two of our major stakeholders who always gave active support to the view that the exam should be brought forward.
“I find it extremely strange that these two organisations should now issue a joint release criticising the decision of Cabinet afer Cabinet was advised by the Ministry of Education.
“The ministry is not at war with any of its stakeholders,” Garcia said.