Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : July 23rd 2017 Contents life B5
Sunday, July 23, 2017 guardian.co.tt
Encourage and support your children
Our education system came in for
some heavy criticism from the leader
of the Roman Catholic Church in T&T,
Archbishop Joseph Harris last week
when he said that the Secondary En-
trance Assessment (SEA) examination
was one way of setting up children to
The archbishop feels the SEA examination
should be scrapped and he suggested that
each school do its own evaluation of their
students in going forward with the children’s
He said the SEA exam continues to put the
children as well as the parents under “too
much stress” as parents push to ensure that
the children get into their school of choice.
The church leader said it had become so
bad now that children were not even allowed
to enjoy their school vacations anymore. He
recalled that in his time, “There was no such
thing as private lessons and this and that and
the other. We had holidays and I am no less
intelligent for that.”
And we cannot easily discard that state-
ment. Several months ago, His Grace sug-
gested to the powers that be that they should
look at ways to release many of those held
in our prisons for minor charges, many of
whom have already served even more than
their maximum time. To date, this sugges-
tion have not been acted upon.
In a statement coming out of his monthly
radio programme Ask the Archbishop, he said there
was too much emphasis being placed on the aca-
“We put everybody into this grammar school ed-
ucation and there are a lot of children not capable of
grammar school education, so we produce failures,
and then we want to know why there is crime,” said
He recalled that in his boyhood days the pass mark
for the Exhibition examination (at that time) was 50
per cent and to get into a ‘prestige’ like St Mary’s or St
Joseph’ Convent, one would have had to score at least
80 per cent. Over the years, dilution of the pass mark
has taken it down to a low of 30 per cent. Anything
under that means resitting the exam if age permits.
We are not sure of the position of the older children.
The archbishop described the whole system as
“crazy”. He added, if the child cannot get more than
30 per cent to get into a secondary school where the
curriculum is greatly increased, how is he/she to suc-
ceed? He asked. “But we force them into secondary
schools to do what? To fail?”
It must be remembered that all children are not
cut out to shine in academics or become proficient
in the professions. There are those who will want to
use their hands. There are children who cannot take
the rigours of a secondary school curriculum and who
prefer to do other things with their lives and parents
must allow those desires to take root.
Sometime years ago, there was an examination
called School Leaving Certificate, for those who did
not wish a secondary education but sort of prepare
them for apprenticeships and other similar pro-
grammes. That is no more, except for some govern-
ment courses which have very little guarantees.
For us in T&T, it’s grammar school education or
nothing. And that is what is causing a lot of social
discomfort. We ask parents to encourage their children
in the pursuits of their choice—everybody cannot be-
come a doctor or lawyer or engineer. There are lots of
other job opportunities and there is entrepreneurship.
We, like the archbishop, are calling on the author-
ities to think about scrapping the SEA and introduce
a system that will encompass all our children and
not just some.
Vernon Khelawan is a columnist for Catholic Media
Services Ltd (Casmel), the official communication
arm of the Archdiocese of Port-of-Spain, Its offices
are located at 31 Independence Square.
Roman Catholic Archbishop Joseph Harris peruses an
article from the Catholic Newspaper’s first edition
which was preserved and put on display during the
unveiling of the 125-year Catholic News’ Digital
Archive in St Clair, last Monday.
PHOTO: KERWIN PIERRE
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