SEA trouble now

BC Pires -
BC Pires -



ON WEDNESDAY, 18,000-plus 11-year-olds sat the Secondary Entrance Assessment, all hoping to pass for a “prestige school” which, in Trinidad, means one where there are more boys on the U-14 football team than there are on the mortuary slab.

In sympathy, then, with children whose adult lives may have been forever sealed in misery in three hours two days ago, I begin my Senility Entrance Assessment exam, with a Newsday practice test, maths today and, next Friday, “language arts,” the Trinidadian academic pidgin for what used to be called “English” back when we at least used to try to speak it formally. I’ve shortened the questions considerably; often, the language of the SEA is not particularly artful.

Mathematics. Section I

Q1. What is the place value of 9 in 40985? About the same as the place value of the 18K SEA students: zero, which we pretend is much more; we declare our children are our future even as we exterminate theirs via the SEA.

Q2. Andrew purchased a bicycle for $1200 and sold it for $950. Calculate the loss. The most dunce inner city child could tell you that, if you steal the bike and pretend you bought it, any cash you actually get is 100 per cent clear profit.

Q6. Calculate 276 x 12. Very unfair! Whole school year you’re teaching children to multiply and then you disguise it as firetrucking addition!

Q6. Nigel spends $30, 1/10 of his salary, on food daily. If he works five days a week, how much does he earn weekly? It doesn’t matter. It all comes to naught in the end. Especially after Nigel spends the other 90 per cent of his salary on rum and cigarette.

Q10. A loaf of bread costs $13.60. A tin of peas is $1.50 cheaper. Calculate the total cost. The more important question is, why is anyone eating peas sandwiches? How much could a tin of sardines cost?

Q13. A two-hour, ten-minute movie began at 3.30 pm. When did it end? If it was John Wick 47, the moment Keanu Reeves, without moving, dodged a hail of bullets from assassins with the worst aim in cinema history.

Section II

Q21. Jody has 31 stamps, Luke 16 and Paul 28. If Jody and Paul gave Luke stamps and all have an equal number, how many stamps did Paul give Luke? Why would anyone want so many stamps today? The only place people posting anything now is social media. Firetruck Jody, Luke and Paul and they X amount of stamp.

Q23. If Kevin and Marcus shared 39 plums and Kevin got five fewer, how many did Kevin get? What Kevin really needs is not X amount of plum, like Jody and them, but a plum job, like what Farley Augustine and them have in Tobago, where you can never lose it, no matter how ridiculous your position gets.

Q26. Miss Lalsingh drank 0.3 of her juice at lunch and 0.5 at dinner. Express the amount of juice remaining as a fraction. I’m just glad that a Trinidadian fictional character has entered the SEA paper; I knew the Jodys and Kevins would take over once we failed to defend Boyo and Carla back in the primary school day.

Q29. A roll of cloth was 20 metres long. If a piece five and 1/4 metres long was used to make a dress, calculate the remaining cloth length. I can’t show the working, but I want to believe this question involves a student being admitted to CIC under the Concordat.

Q30. Nine bags of potatoes each weigh 3 and 1/3 kilos. If each bag costs $12 and the potatoes were sold at $6 per kilo, calculate the total profit. Firetruck off. And take your firetrucking potatoes with you.

Q32. Gloria arrived at 5.10 pm for her ferry trip from Trinidad to Tobago and ferry left half-an-hour later. If the journey lasted two hours, 30 minutes, what time did she get to Tobago? Examiner, please! We all know damned well that Gloria had no chance of getting a ferry to Tobago unless she arrived the day before and waited on the dock in the hot sun. And, even then…

That’s enough firetrucking maths. Next week we do language without any art at all.

BC Pires will pass for Dustin Hoffman sometimes


"SEA trouble now"

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