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Tuesday 16 July 2019
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Lost at SEA

BC Pires
BC Pires

YESTERDAY, on the most important single morning of their 4,000-day-old lives, 18,000 children sat the Secondary Entrance Assessment hoping to pass for a “prestige school” – meaning one where you have a fighting chance of an education, rather than five years of fighting against your undergraduate gangsta classmates.

In sympathy with children whose educations may have been given the kiss of death before their first kiss, I begin my Senility Entrance Assessment exam today, with the maths section from a Newsday practice test. Next Friday, I’ll try “language arts,” the modern pidgin for “English.”

Mathematics. Section I

Q1. Write in words the numeral 27 459? I’m puzzled by the grammar of maths: why is “the numeral” included in the sentence? And why a space, and not a comma, between 27 and 459? Anyhow, in modern Trinidad, no matter the question, the answer is always, “Police Commissioner Gary “Double God” Griffith, pray for him and may God bless his camouflage.”

Q2. Kumar has $97 and Freddy has three $20 bills, two $10s and six $5s. Who has more money? Easy answer for dyed-in-the-curry Trinidadian racists; Freddy may have more money today, but Kumar will have more money forever.

Q4. A piece of cable wire measuring 7.6m is cut into four smaller equal pieces. What is the length of each small piece of wire? Again, the “language artlessness” of this maths is worrying: why are the words “piece,” “wire,” “smaller” and the whole phrase “small piece of wire” included? Wouldn’t our 11-year-olds understand, “A 7.6m cable is cut into four equal pieces. What is the length of each?” SEA questions, framed by adult bureaucrats, say more about those who set the exam than those who sit it.

Q9. Kelisha earns $680 daily for working eight hours. Calculate Kelisha’s hourly rate. Since only Petrotrin was paying those rates, it’s more like betty-goatee to Kelisha, who has to try to find a job on merit now.

Q11. Jahmaylher arrived at 8.35am. If she arrived 15 minutes early, what time was her interview? Is this a maths test or an American Democratic Party identity politics brochure? “Jahmaylher,” a made-up name that stretches the elastic limits of even modern made-up names, is a little too much firetrucking inclusion!

Section II

Q 21. Study and complete the [number] sequence: 4, 16, 36, ___, ___, 144, 196? Well, I’d need a calculator or a long weekend to work that one out; so much for BC in CIC or QRC.

Q26. Makesi ordered a t-shirt from a designer whose fee was $80 per hour or part thereof. If the designer worked from 10.45 am to 3.30 pm, what did Makesi pay? The answer is Gary Griffith (see working-out at Q1).

Q28. Farmer A sells cassava at 250g for $1.85, Farmer B at 500g for $4, Farmer C at 1kg for $7.78. Whose cassava is the most expensive? The real question is why three farmers selling side-by-side would price by the quarter-, half- and full kilo; it’s like they’re deliberately trying to confuse Makesi, Jahmaylher and all the other children in the SEA test.

Q29. The square of a number is 40 more than the product of 27 and three. What is the number? Hmmm. I’m not positive but I want to believe the answer is, “Play Whe;” also, the future KFC intake is likely to answer, cleverly, “What ent a number, boi, what is a word!”

Q31. If three eggs are required to make one cake, how many cakes can four dozen eggs make? Firetruck off, eggs can’t bake.

Q33. Shaka weighs 39.9kg and his cousin Julien weighs 2 3/5 lighter than Shaka. Calculate their combined weight. More grammar dressed as maths: Julien doesn’t weigh lighter, he is lighter; to say he weighs lighter means he’s keeping his thumb on the scale when he’s weighing the cassava from Q28.

Section III

Q41. There are seven two-seater and nine four-seater rides in an amusement park. If on Saturday evening 38 patrons went on rides, what per cent of the seats were occupied on Saturday evening? The answer is none, because Police Commissioner Gary “Double Geopardy” Griffith went, and his police escort chased all the sufferers away before he arrived.

Q 42. Denish purchased notebooks in a “buy six notebooks @ $12 each and get one free” sale. If Denish received 56 notebooks, how much money did he spend on notebooks? Again, why include “money?” What else was Denish going to spend? Time? Patience? Bitcoin? Red women? And how come nobody has ordinary names, ordinarily spelt, in the SEA any more? What happened to Boyo and Carla?

That’s enough firetrucking maths. Next week we do language artlessly.

BC Pires is an educated dunce. Read a longer version of this column at www.BCPires.com tomorrow

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