Relief after SEA in Tobago

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

THA Education Secretary Zorisha Hackett, fourth from left, celebrates with
Buccoo Government Primary School principal Corine Smith-Rochford and
some of her students after they sat the SEA exam on Thursday.

A collective sigh of relief came from teachers, parents, and even the students themselves as the  children left exam rooms after the end of Thursday’s Secondary Entrance Assessment (SEA).

At the Buccoo Government Primary School, many pupils admitted to being overwhelmingly grateful that the life-changing exam was now over.

Anya Laptiste said: “I feel good – relieved.”

But what is she looking forward to now?

“Absolutely just nothing – maybe just relax on my phone.”

Her father, Stephen Michael Laptiste, said it did not take a lot to prepare his daughter for the important day.

“It wasn’t much preparations. One thing with her, she always liked books and doing her homework. When she gets home, she would rush to do her homework, sometimes even in the car we’re going home, and she would want to do her homework. So by the time we reach home in the evenings, it’s mostly complete already. We never had a problem with her in terms of worrying or stressing.”

He wants her to join her brothers at the Harmon’s School of Seventh-Day Adventists (SDA). “For me, it wasn’t that over-stressing – I believe she would do well. She would get her first choice, which is Harmon’s.

“Even her teachers were saying why not Bishop’s (High School), but we like Harmon’s, and they have a little godlike atmosphere within their school. She has two other brothers at the same Harmon’s so we would like for her to go to the same school.

“So I don’t really see a problem, but as a parent, I am glad that it is over and I guess other parents feel the same way.”

A total of 999 students registered to sit the exam in Tobago. They were tested in maths, English language arts, and English language writing.

THA Secretary of Education, Research, and Technology Zorisha Hackett said she was proud of all 999 students.

“I wish all success to children of TT. Of course, my bias would be with Tobago. Success to you, you’re already winners in my eyes. I know everyone is proud of you.”

She issued this word of caution to the students: “Use the next couple of months wisely. Yes, you want to relax and just get the load off your shoulder, but I want you to keep up with your academics and extra-curricular activities, because this is just the beginning of the journey. Secondary school is no bed of roses.

“And I want them to understand, yes, you are going to take the time off, but we want them to keep at it so when you go in there in September, you are prepared for the work that is going to meet you there at your secondary school of choice.”

Hackett said the aim was to focus on schools’ performance rather than that of individuals in this academic year.

“What we’re doing is looking at the top-performing schools. For the first time, instead of calling out a student’s name, we’re going to let Tobago know which schools are the top-performing schools. That would give Tobago a better idea of performance as opposed to a student in a school. But when you look at the performance of the school, they’re not above the national mean.”

She added: “I think parents get a little caught up and carried away with a school based on the child who does well versus the overall performance of the school. That is the direction that I want us to go in: let’s focus on every student excelling in the school, versus one or two who may do well because they’re naturally talented, naturally gifted, going to extra lessons or so.”

At the Lowlands Mall, students gathered to watch Kung Fu Panda.Preethi Khodai of the Bethesda Government Primary School said: “I am glad that it is finally over. We are now ready to have fun, fun, fun.”