ON THE eve of the Secondary Entrance Assessment (SEA) examination, a Presbyterian minister has blasted the government and the Ministry of Education, describing them as failures for not providing “good and safe schools” for those transitioning to attend.
The Rev Kendrick Sooknarine also slammed a new rule by the Ministry of Education which mandates that primary schools only accept children who live within a three km radius of the school.
He said this would prevent Presbyterian children from attending a Presbyterian school, and called on government to fix the schools that are problematic and make them better, rather than compromise those schools that are good. He called on the parents to help him fight this scourge, as it had the effect of upsetting other well- performing denominational schools as well.
From the pulpit of the Susamachar Presbyterian Church yesterday, Sooknarine said he observed the fear and anxiety of parents attending the Service of Faith and Confidence for SEA students of Grant Memorial Presbyterian School.
He shared with the congregation that while the children, who are among the 19,208, who will write the SEA today, were well prepared, the parental anxiety was rooted in the fear of whether their children would pass for a “good school.”
“Parents need to know that their children are going to a school where they are safe,” he said.
Examining the merits of a good school, he said, “A good school is one where bullying is an exception, a rare occasion, never happening at all. Parents are right to say this is the kind of school they want for their children.
“A good school is a school where children are going to learn to do good things, not bad things, not taking out your phone and making videotapes and then sending it all over the place. These are not the makings of a good school.”
Taking aim at the government, Sooknarine also questioned the amount of money invested in education and the returns gained.
“We have spent years throwing billions of dollars at primary schools and secondary schools that have not produced the kind of results we have wanted at all.
“I am tired of all this SEA stress. I am tired of mothers coming to me every year and saying, ‘Oh gosh, I wonder if my child is going to pass for a good school.’
“All the schools should be good schools, and if the schools are not good schools, they are not good schools because there is a failure in the Ministry of Education, there is a failure in government, there is a failure with all of these school supervisors who are dealing with irrelevant matters, and they are not making our secondary schools all good schools.
“If we are spending the money, as a nation, why aren’t all of our schools good schools? We can’t make schools better by chopping them down..
“We have a problem in the primary schools. The ministry has a new rule which says you can’t have children outside of the three-km radius, so we have Presbyterian schools and I have Presbyterian children in my Sunday school, but I get trouble to get them in the primary school. Presbyterians cannot attend Presbyterian schools.
“Is that a good thing? Isn’t that kind of idiotic? Is that going to make our school system a better system?”
He said Presbyterian children hada right to go to a Presbyterian school, wherever they might live.
“Why don’t you fix the schools that the parents don’t want their children to go to? That is the problem.”
He advised the ministry, “Go across there and fix those schools so that parents would want to send their children to those schools.,,
“They cannot build Mon Repos and Ste Madeleine schools by breaking down Grant School. We have to do better than that.”