T&T: Education minister concerned about too many students scoring below 30 per cent

By Trinidad Newsday

Anthony Garcia

(TRINIDAD NEWSDAY) – EDUCATION MINISTER Anthony Garcia has expressed concern over the large number of students who scored below 30 per cent in the SEA examinations. He said approximately 2,500 students out of 19,139 fell into this category.

“Well it is really with mixed feelings if I am to be truthful. I am happy at the performance of most of our students, in fact the great majority of our students have done exceptionally well.

“Concerning those who have scored below 30 per cent, I want to make sure that we put things in place so that those students would be able to benefit from the type of education that we have to offer.

“A child spending seven years in the primary school must do much better than that and therefore, in the not too distant future, I want to ensure that that number is significantly reduced. I am not just saying this. We are putting things in place to ensure that this happens.”

He was speaking with reporters at the Chaguanas Government Primary School where Rebekah Macoon and Kavel Pereira tied for third place in the examination.

Garcia also noted there was a “slight decrease” in Language Arts while students had scored slightly higher in mathematics than in the 2017 exam.

He said the student monitoring system had been put in place to continually assess students from the time they entered primary school to standard five.

“We also have officers of our curriculum division coming to the schools and assisting our teachers in terms of clinical supervision. Also, we have asked all of our school supervisors to pay constant and regular visits to our schools to make sure the curriculum is implemented in accordance with the dictates of the Ministry of Education.”

Asked his advice to those students who did not pass for the school of their choice, he said the SEA was a “placement exam” and the ministry was constrained in the number of places available in the secondary school system.

“However be not dismayed. I am sure they will do better and they will do well because our education system is designed to give every child a chance to excel.”

In relation to the demands of the private secondary schools for an increase in the stipend paid to them, he said there was a process to be followed.

“It is unfortunate that this is the stance that has been taken by the principals of the private secondary schools. I have no fight with them and I don’t know why they want to engage me in any fight.

“We recognise the contributions that these schools have been making to education, we recognise they have been assisting us in having our children gain access to an education, I have no fight with them.”

Garcia said the process included taking the recommendations for an increased stipend to the Cabinet for approval as this was the only body which could give authorisation.

“I want to assure you that whatever the outcome of these discussions, we will make sure that every child who qualifies for secondary school is given a place.”

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