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Students cry over schools

By Newsday Reporter Thursday, July 3 2014

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Inconsolable: Devanand Magram tries to comfort his daughter Lauranda who cried when she learned she did not pass for her school of choice when her SEA...
Inconsolable: Devanand Magram tries to comfort his daughter Lauranda who cried when she learned she did not pass for her school of choice when her SEA...

ANGRY parents of students of Longdenville Government Primary School who received their Secondary Entrance Assessment (SEA) results yesterday are calling for the intervention of Education Minister Dr Tim Gopeesingh to investigate why the 80 students did not pass for their first choices.

The parents questioned how each child received a score of 27.31 out of 50 marks, or below, for English Language Arts (ELA) which is part of the Continuous Assessment Component (CAC).

The parents believe their children were zoned and did not receive a “fair chance” to get into the schools of their choice.

After the release of the results, parents accompanied by their children proceeded to the Ministry of Education’s Caroni District Office in Couva hoping to get answers.

The parents produced the students performance score sheets which revealed some got 100 marks in Mathematics and others obtained between 80 and 90 (in the overall marks), yet the figures for ELA were lower.

“This cannot be right, something is wrong here and we need to know why each of these students have been given a score of 27.31 and below,” said parent, Maureen Creese.

The SEA comprises Mathematics, Language Arts, ELA (previously Creative Writing) and CCE/Drama/Science. The exam paper consists of Mathematics,100 marks and Language Arts, 100 marks only. ELA is scored out of 50 marks. CCE/Drama/Science is scored out of 60 marks. These are based on assessments during the school year.

Creese said most of the students went into the examination with the full 50 marks for ELA, and believes the scores were “somehow adjusted downwards”.

Creese said none of the students including her son, Justin Gandalal, 11, passed for their first choice or a school of their choice.

Gandalal was placed in Chaguanas South Secondary School. He wanted to attend Presentation College, Chaguanas. She said the students have been obtaining high scores since Standard Three and believe have been “cheated”.

“These children worked hard day and night. I watched my son study so hard and in the end to be just thrown into a school. It is not fair,” Creese told Newsday.

Another parent Samuel Jefffers said his son Phillip was in tears on receiving his results slip. “Some students you would know by the level of performance during the years what school they would pass for. So I am in shock right now. I need to know why they did this to these students?”Jeffers questioned.

“An error occurs with one or two or even three students. But over 60 percent of the student population receiving the same score 27.31/50 in writing when we know these students are brilliant, something is terribly wrong here,” he said.

Phillip was placed in ASJA Boys’ College, Charlieville. He also wanted to attend Presentation College.

Many students cried openly and had to be comforted by their parents. “It is unfair. I worked so hard. I give it all my best and I knew my long hours of studying would have paid off,”cried eleven-year-old Lauranda Magram. Her first choice was St Augustine Girls’ High School but she was placed in Couva East Secondary School.

Magram’s other scores were 99 in Mathematics, 81 in Language Arts and 58.20 in the subject area of CCE/Drama/Science.

Newsday also learnt that Lauranda had copped many awards for her outstanding performance in Creative Writing.

Lauranda’s father Devanand Magram said words could not comfort his daughter and other children. “I can show you all of my daughter’s essays where she scored full marks. They did an injustice to these children. My daughter has not stopped crying,” Magram said as he wiped his daughter tears.

He said he and other parents would continue to fight until their children are treated fairly.

“But what we are being told now is that if we don’t register our children in the schools with their slips, they would lose their places at the schools. So we are stuck between a rock and a hard place. The minister himself, Dr Gopeesingh needs to launch an immediate investigation,” Magram said.

Makebar Abdul-Ghafur said she too was brought to tears when she saw her daughter Maqalia, weeping uncontrollably.

“How do you tell these children everything would be alright when you know that they have worked so hard. We know what these children are capable of and most of them have been sent too secondary north, south schools,” said another parent Danielle Burnett.

When Newsday attempted to speak to school supervisor Roopnarine Mahabir of the Ministry of Education, Caroni District, he refused to comment and referred all questions to the Ministry’s Communications Department.

When contacted, Alicia Busby from the Communications Department promised to look into the matter.

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