Pupils celebrate

It’s over: Pupils celebrate after sitting the Secondary Entrance Assessment (SEA) examination. Education Minister Anthony Garcia has announced the exam will continue, even after Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley earlier this month announced her government’s decision to abolish that country’s Common Entrance exam.

Almost one-third the number of pupils writing the 2020 Secondary Entrance Assessment (SEA) examination will be omitted from the published list when the results are released.

A total of 19,363 pupils will write the exam on April 2.

For the first year, parents were given the option during the registration process whether or not their child’s results should be included on the list, which is published in the newspapers by the Ministry of Education.

6,571 parents opted to not publish their children’s results.

This comes following criticism from stakeholders who have labeled the publication of results as a breach of privacy and a cause of unnecessary stress for pupils.

In 2019, amidst calls for the practice to be stopped, Education Minister Anthony Garcia embarked on a consultation exercise. At the end, it was determined that parents would be given a choice. However, the consultations ended after the SEA registration process had already been completed. Parents desirous of having their children’s results omitted from last year’s list were asked to put their request in writing to the Ministry of Education.

Chief Education Officer Harrilal Seecharan said yesterday only 70 parents had written to the Ministry and their children’s results were not included on the 2019 published list.

However, this year the option was included on the SEA registration form.

Parents in an “SEA support group” on Facebook yesterday were divided on the issue with some saying they opted to have their children’s results omitted from the list due to privacy concerns, and others saying they had no issue with their children’s results being publicized.

One parent of twin girls writing this year’s exam said her children chose to have their results published.

“We personally think they are mature enough to make or have a valuable input in certain decisions and as this will directly affect them we allowed them to decide after discussing it. We ensured they knew we were proud of them no matter what happens and that is what was most important for our girls,” she said.

Another parent said she opted to have her child’s results published as “it is not a big deal”.

People will see him in his uniform anyway so I don’t see what difference it makes.”

Those who opted not to publicly release their children’s results said they did so to maintain a level of privacy.

“Why is it imperative that the Ministry of Education publish the children’s names? There is absolutely no need for it. I must know what school my child was assigned so it is not for the parents, then who and why?” one mother questioned.

Another parent agreed saying:

“My daughter is writing and I chose to not have it published. I believe in heaviness being placed on your child from negative words if they don’t pass for a prestige school. Those who need to know what school she passes for will know...Other than that, I don’t see the need why those who will not even be assisting with purchasing a pencil for her future endeavours should care.”

Yet another parent said she felt that not publishing the results would eleimnate some of the stress of the exam on children.

“Frankly many people thrive on other’s business,” she said.

“And can use the information printed against the child...A child who may be disappointed with his/her results can be confronted with it by boldface individuals who saw it in the press. All of the above can lead to gossip, slander and bullying from family, other parents and students. The information is private. There is no reason to publish results.”

But privacy wasn’t the only concern as another parent told the Express she opted to omit her child’s name from the publication list due to security concerns.

“We chose not to have our daughter’s name published because my husband’s job in national security,” she said.

“The nature of his job may put her at risk, not directly but if they trace her back to him.”

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