Garcia on SEA: Improved security against leaks
Education Minister Anthony Garcia is expected to give details today of the security measures put in place for the 2018 Secondary Entrance Assessment (SEA) to be written by close to 19,000 pupils on Thursday. Speaking to the T&T Guardian, yesterday, Garcia confirmed that all systems are in place for the examination and improved security measures are in place to safeguard against leaks of the examination paper. While there have been no recent leaks of the examination paper, in 2016, the results of the examination were leaked ahead of the official release date prompting an investigation into the origin of the leak.
In addition Garcia said, "All secondary schools are in a position to receive all the students." Those schools, he said, also included the seven private schools which earlier this month requested an increase in the £1,200 subvention which they get per student per term from the Ministry of Education. Principals of private schools, which annually assist with the placement of pupils given the limited number of spaces in government and denominational schools, have lamented that they are unable to give children sent to those schools the quality of education required because of inadequate funding from the ministry. They have calculated that it costs £5,700 to educate a child per term, £4,000 more than they get from the Ministry of Education.
As a result the schools are forced to raise funds, source loans and utilise bank overdrafts to meet their monthly bills which included the payment of salaries to teachers and payment of basic utility bills including water, electricity, telephone and security. In mid-April the seven private schools--St Charles High, St Joseph College, Southern Academy, Caribbean Union College, Bishops Centenary, Corpus Christi and the Open Bible High School--collectively wrote to Garcia requesting an increase in funding from the ministry. Garcia said he had received the letter requesting an increase in the £1,200 payment and assured the principals of the private schools "it is being given active attention."
Meanwhile, Garcia has also confirmed that the date of the SEA examination in 2019 will be in March.
The announcement of the planned change in date was first made in September 2017 when Garcia explained that Cabinet had made the decision to change the date of the exam to the last week of the second term, which was usually in March, because it was deemed to be more feasible and cost effective.