After a few extra months of preparing primary school children finally sat the Secondary Entrance Assessment (SEA) and by 1 p.m. today August 20 it was all over. There were 19,344 students—9,771 boys and 9,573 girls registered for the exam.
The exam took place with COVID-19 precautions: temperature checks, hand washing/sanitising, physical distancing, and wearing of masks. The annual placement exam originally scheduled for April 2 was postponed to May when all education institutions were closed March 13 when nationwide COVID-19 restrictions on gatherings were implemented. In June, the Education Ministry announced the new SEA date in August and there was ensuing debate with the Trinidad and Tobago Unified Teachers’ Association and National Parent-Teachers Association not in agreement.
For the children and the teachers who were preparing them even during what was the July-August vacation break, there was happiness it was completed.
Adrienne Elias, 12 years of Arima Girls’ RC said she wasn’t nervous for the actual exam. She explained, “What I was nervous for [was] the work I did for the past how many months was for this thing I was about to do in a few moments time.” The exam was set to start 8.30 a.m. with Creative Writing first 50 minutes followed by Mathematics 75 minutes, a break of 30 minutes then English Language 75 minutes.
Elias said after the exam she felt a sense of relief. She made sure to emphasise the word “relief” saying, “I am now able to do all the things I was not able to do for the past few months and I was just thankful it was all over with.” Her mother Lue-Ann was going to treat her to sushi takeaway from Kaizan restaurant.
Che Chin-Albert, 12 years who attended Specialist Learning Centre said he felt more confident going into the exam since there was extra time to get “more work in” than if the exam was held in April. He described the exam as challenging at times but “overall easy”. He felt confident “everyone did a good job”. His post-exam treat was at KFC and Starbucks.
Initial feedback suggests the exam took place without hitches. At Our Lady of Laventille, no issues were reported and all exam personnel and students were punctual and at Rose Hill the children let out a scream of relief when the exam concluded.
The eight pupils of the Matelot RC sat the exam at the Matelot Community College which had been prepared for the Caribbean Examination Council Ordinary level examinations. Everything went well, “by God’s grace” at Santa Maria RC Moruga. The Public Health Inspector visited and all protocols were observed. At St Benedicts La Romaine RC Primary there were also no issues. The PHI visited and was pleased with the sanitation of the school. The SEA was also reported to have proceeded smoothly and without challenges at: Bethlehem Boys’ and Bethlehem Girls’ RC, Newtown Boys, La Seiva RC, La Fillette RC, Nelson Street Boys’, St Dominic’s Morvant.
Out of the thousands, a few were unable to sit the exam because they were in quarantine. An exam is usually held for the children who fall ill etc. and miss the scheduled date.
New minister of Education Dr Nyan Gadsby -Dolly and Minister of State in the Ministry Lisa Morris-Julian, visited the St Ursula’s AC Primary School St Vincent Street, Port of Spain at 7.30 a.m. then the Sacred Heart Boys RC Primary on Richmond St PoS. The principal of Sacred Heart briefed the ministers on the exam process at the school. In the afternoon when SEA was done, they went to the Gandhi Memorial Vedic Primary School, Aranguez.