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June 03, 2020

Do not flinch in the face of adversity

Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley’s announcement that phase three of the reopening of the T&T…
June 03, 2020

An open letter to sport #BlackLivesMatter

Citizens across the world have mobilised to stand up for equal rights, for freedom, fairness,…
June 02, 2020

Rolf Bartolo - A man of integrity

Tributes keep pouring in for Rolf Bartolo from different quarters in Trinidad and Tobago. On…
June 01, 2020

Lewis: Sport can be key in covid19 recovery

BRIAN LEWIS, president of the TT Olympic Committee (TTOC), says that sports can play a…
May 31, 2020


May 28, 2020

TTOC to roll out covid19 relief to athletes

The TT Olympic Committee (TTOC) is currently finalising the criteria needed for athletes to benefit…
May 26, 2020

OpEd: The IOC Stands in Solidarity With All Athletes and All Sports

Much has been written lately about the International Olympic Committee (IOC)’s finances. Some of these…

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Do not flinch in the face of adversity
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It is an un­com­fort­able re­al­i­ty that the con­cept of fair­ness and equal­i­ty can be trans­ac­tion­al.

The bat­tle lines have been drawn be­tween the “haves” and the “have nots.” Easy an­swers pre­vail when we should be prompt­ed to have a wider con­ver­sa­tion. A grand de­cep­tion lies at the heart of the de­cep­tion. The de­lib­er­ate use of red tape and bu­reau­cra­cy to cov­er-up in­ten­tion­al and cal­lous in­jus­tice and un­fair­ness. It is an un­com­fort­able re­al­i­ty that the con­cept of fair­ness and equal­i­ty can be trans­ac­tion­al.

In re­cent weeks, I have been dis­cussing the im­pact of the Sec­ondary En­trance As­sess­ment (SEA) ex­am­i­na­tion on sport in T&T. There are two sides to a coin and as such a strong ar­gu­ment can be made for the re­ten­tion of the SEA in its cur­rent in­car­na­tion. Some will ar­gue that the SEA is a mer­i­toc­ra­cy but is it? Is the SEA a mer­i­toc­ra­cy?

Scant at­ten­tion is paid to the neg­a­tive im­pact of SEA on sports. Par­ents, with few ex­cep­tions, sac­ri­fice phys­i­cal ac­tiv­i­ty/sports in an ef­fort to en­sure a cov­et­ed first choice place­ment (in the main the par­ents’ first choice, not the child’s).

For some tal­ent­ed child with po­ten­tial in sport, the ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem is not sport friend­ly. It is an up­hill bat­tle and from ear­ly they learn it is ei­ther or, as a sport takes away valu­able time from SEA prepa­ra­tion. Af­ter school, SEA pri­vate lessons cur­tail the free time for ex­tracur­ric­u­lar ac­tiv­i­ties.

There are sec­ondary schools that fail to ad­e­quate­ly em­brace a cul­ture of phys­i­cal ed­u­ca­tion and for stu­dents pass­ing for such a school, the end re­sult is that par­tic­i­pat­ing in sport at a high lev­el is no longer an op­tion.

In a re­cent news­pa­per ar­ti­cle, Uni­ver­si­ty of the West In­dies (UWI) pro­fes­sor Jerome De Lisle cau­tioned about the SEA cre­at­ing false neg­a­tives that em­anate from an elit­ist world view.

The SEA is a tool and like all tools, it can be used for good but it can al­so be mis­used.

By way of ex­am­ple - What about the stu­dent who was giv­en a low­er mark - the par­ents query the mark. The Min­istry of Ed­u­ca­tion in­ves­ti­gates and the mark is re­vised up­ward in first choice range but in a cru­el twist of fate, the Min­istry of Ed­u­ca­tion in­forms the par­ents that it is too late to place the stu­dent in his/her first choice.

The so­lu­tion: wait for Form Two; no suc­cess; and no op­por­tu­ni­ty to get a hear­ing. The im­pact? A dis­il­lu­sioned 12-year-old los­es in­ter­est in sport­ing ac­tiv­i­ty. The anger and re­sent­ment in­ter­nalised to ap­pear as at-risk be­hav­iour.

It is easy to be con­de­scend­ing and say that is life and it is good for the na­tion’s chil­dren to learn the re­al­i­ty of life from the SEA but the neg­a­tive im­pact on a child’s life is not a triv­ial mat­ter.

The race for SEA first may well be a race to the bot­tom.