SEA didn't see it coming

Education Minster Dr Nyan Gadsby-Dolly and education officials at Tranquillity Government Primary School before the start of the 2021 SEA exam.
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Education Minster Dr Nyan Gadsby-Dolly and education officials at Tranquillity Government Primary School before the start of the 2021 SEA exam. -

LENNOX FRANCIS

If you are passing by and you see someone sinking in quicksand its inhumane not to offer help. That’s how difficult it is to leave the topic of SEA untouched. Give a dog a bad name and hang him but I will try to save covid19 from the gallows.

Not a child will be left behind, the promise of the Minister of Education. Now when the “mark buss” 12,000 of 19,079 scored less than 50 per cent in the SEA exam 2022. Why? Covid19. Their analysis and final conclusion.

Covid19 started as an executioner of the elderly. The experts missed the mark with the first salvo. While trying to extend the lifespan of the over sixties they forgot to make provision for the “ones of the future,” the children. The best theory of preservation was to close school; lock them up home; keep them away from the sun and the fresh air and school will be taken to them.

The goal looked achievable for every child from Cedros to Toco just needed a device and connectivity.

Bacchanal without carnival as the Ministry of Education underrated the level of organisation needed to conduct online learning. How many devices were needed? Can the state fund it or private citizens must contribute? Which supplier can handle the quick orders? The MOE was completely unaware that some areas in TT had no water and some people had to walk to a hotspot for connectivity. A heavy shower or high winds and everything could turn ole mass.

What was the reaction of the service providers? Were the teachers prepared for this kind of indirect teaching-learning process? Were the children accustomed to a “no face teacher” and disciplined enough to pay attention to a voice? How were the children with attention deficit syndrome managed?

So much was taken for granted and assumed that it was just a matter of turning on a device and bullseye. Even if the children started the day with prayers, did they have the breakfast to go with it? What percentage had to study on a hungry belly? The ministry should compare statistics before and after to determine the true cause of the disappointment.

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs was challenged by the MOE.

While waiting for covid19 to subside, the patience of the parents and children grew thin and the MOE fearing that it would run out of time declared a SEA stress relieving date. Desperation was divided to get this day over with and no adjustment was made to the exam to reflect the environmental challenges.

Lennox Francis -

Months later, 12,000 children left behind or scored less than 50 per cent of the marks in the subjects examined. The MOE was high in praise of covid19 for obliterating its tracks that even a pothound can follow: poor organisational preparedness; driven by feeling of what the outcome will be; no pilot testing to get statistical feedback; drastic change in the teaching-learning environment and the MOE operating in an old mode to judge candidates in a new setting.

If covid19 was the cause of the poor results then it should be eliminated to rectify the situation. Can we?

The second option, spend $10 million dollars on tuition and meals to raise IQ levels in one month. As the saying goes “no rest for the wicked.”

A previous minister of education, the late Mr Clive Pantin strongly believed that school should remain open in summer to teach the children new life skills (besides academics).

The father of the nation emphatically stated that children have the future of the nation in their school bags but never expected them to go to school in August. The children of yesteryear treated that as a joke and a sign of very low IQ.

A word to the wise, to deprive our children of summer sunshine is an act geared to producing farm fowl rather than the robust yard fowl.

I am hoping that the reduced summer holidays do not impact negatively on the quality of learning in the new school year. Be watchful MOE.

In the words of the MOE, 12,000 failed the exam. Educators will restate this as the system failed 12,000 candidates as little or no adjustment was made to the exam.

My perennial recommendations to those who mastermind SEA is first its removal and trim it to see if our 12-year-olds have observed and learnt from the experiences of their age.

Secondly, teach the children to manage the relationship with their bodies so that they will not be helpless in another encounter with diseases etc. The relationship with peers comes next: love, negotiation, diplomacy and working as a unit.

Adults, the cause of climate change appear to have either given up hope or just could not care less. Children have to be taught this survival relationship, how to preserve the planet and halt the pending catastrophe of global warming.

Primary education is about nurturing and teaching the first things first and measuring the extent to which growth has taken place.

Let’s see about SEA before another generation is left at sea.

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"SEA didn’t see it coming"

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