TT Unified Teachers’ Association (TTUTA) Tobago officer Bradon Roberts says he is disappointed the Ministry of Education has set August 20 as the date for the Secondary Entrance Assessment (SEA) examination.
“The announcement of the SEA exam on August 20 was not something agreed to by TTUTA,” he told Newsday.
“TTUTA would have proposed October and would have held firm to that position for the mere fact that that July-August period is usually repair programme time for schools.”
“How are we going to facilitate that repair programme which usually is problematic and have the children out preparing for exams and conducting exams at the same time?” Roberts asked.
Education Minister Anthony Garcia announced the date of the exam during the Ministry of Health’s covid19 briefing on Wednesday.
Garcia said the date was confirmed after consultation with various stakeholders.
The SEA exam was originally due to have been held on April 2 but this changed when schools were ordered closed to prevent the spread of the virus in mid-March.
At the briefing, Garcia announced that all SEA students and their teachers would be required to return to school on July 20 to prepare for the exam.
Roberts said he is not convinced all schools will be ready, by way of proper health and safety standards, to accommodate SEA students and teachers.
“I listened to the minister in his briefing and I am not convinced that they have these things in place. They are hoping to have these things in place.
“So, for a responsible organisation, which TTUTA is, we have to err on the side of caution.”
Roberts said although the Ministry of Education is an employer and well within its rights to announce the date of the exam “our (TTUTA) stance is it should be in October to ensure the necessary protocols are in place and not to commit ourselves for something that is to be put in place.”
Nevertheless, Roberts wished the SEA teachers well.
“I trust the teachers would try their very best as they go out to be as safe as possible because health and safety is critical and to ensure that their efforts are not manipulated to the point where, if the system does not work, teachers are held culpable for whatever mishap that is possible to arise during the period.
“I am praying the children who come out during July-August that they really get that week or two weeks to assimilate and get back into that frame of mind where the psycho-social aspect of it is factored in and they are able to get back to some level of comfort to perform well,” he added.