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A teacher at Gran Couva RC School reads to her pupils

The results of the Secondary Entrance Assessment were released Friday, July 1. The Catholic News contacted the Catholic Education Board of Management (CEBM) for a response on this year’s results. The following is a statement on the performance of RC primary schools.

There are 118 public Primary, one Private and six Assisted Public Secondary Schools managed by the CEBM.

There are Catholic schools in every Education District and almost every parish. In some 31 communities, the Catholic school is the only one in the village. Many Catholic schools are established in small remote villages and over 55 or approximately half of these schools are located in the poorest regional corporations.

In 2019 it was determined that some 3,674 who attend Catholic primary schools live in areas designated “hot spots” by the security forces. In these communities, crime and violence are a way of life and part of the daily experiences that mold the values, dreams, and aspirations of the young people growing up in them. These children often experience negative effects of both their socioeconomic background as well as low expectations of themselves in relation to education.

Through the efforts of the Ministry of Education, corporate and private sponsors as well as the efforts of the CEBM, the demand for devices (tablets, laptops, desktop computers) to facilitate online learning was largely met, but students previously identified as vulnerable remained those most at-risk due to the low availability of internet connectivity or electricity to support online classes.

At-home supervision of students or lack of it was identified as a challenge to ensuring student participation in learning activities.

The wide distribution of scores among students in many of the schools suggests a varying degree of out-of-school factors on student performance.

Twenty-four of the schools attained an average weighted score higher than that of the national score. These schools are located in the school districts of Victoria, Port of Spain, St George East, St Patrick, and Caroni. Students in two schools scored above 90 per cent.

In at least 25 schools half or more of the students scored over 50 per cent. In 104 schools at least one student scored over 50 per cent.

Some students in 82 schools attained above 60 per cent.

Some students in 44 schools attained over 75 per cent.

Students in three schools scored over 90 per cent.

In 14 schools, no student scored above 50 per cent.

In five schools no student scored below 30 per cent.

Preparation for school year 2022–2023

The results of the 2022 Secondary Entrance Assessment have thrown into sharp focus the inequities that exist in the education opportunities available to our students. These inequities were exacerbated by the pandemic. Its collective effects can have a long-term impact on a whole generation of students and resulting negative significance to the economy of Trinidad and Tobago.

While immediate interventions are planned to address the gaps in learning, the long-term consequences of the pandemic require a sustained approach to identifying and mitigating the factors that contribute to inequity.

The anticipated report on the Committee appointed to examine the SEA, Concordat and transition into secondary school will doubtlessly provide some recommendations in this regard.

However, the CEBM urges that all stakeholders be engaged in discussions and plans for reimagining our education system for the long term. Such a system might include:

· A varied high-quality curriculum that caters for a wide range of aspirations, abilities, and interests

· Highly trained and effective educators capable of managing in diverse learning environments

· Non-traditional education models such as: hybrid, remote learning, home-schooling, learning hubs

· A range of enrichment activities such as projects in the sciences, Social Studies, Arts and Sports

· A re-engineered school year.

The CEBM stands ready and willing to participate in stakeholder discussions and planning toward the end of such re-imagining.