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Education Minister Anthony Garcia, front and Aranquez North Secondary School principal Gerald Thomas sit in an area laid out for students to sit CSEC and CAPE exams during the minister’s visit to the school yesterday.

Although the T&T Unified Teachers’ Association (T&TUTA) continues to voice its disapproval of the August 20 Secondary Entrance Assessment (SEA) date, Education Minister Anthony Garcia says he is putting his faith in teachers to prepare their students for the exam.

Garcia made the comment during a tour yesterday at the Aranguez North Secondary, where he met with the school’s principal to ensure preparations were being made for the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) examinations in July.

Asked to comment on the ongoing dispute between the ministry and T&TUTA over the SEA date, Garcia said, “Let me make the point that that exam is scheduled for August 20, there is absolutely no way where we are going to change that date. I see in some aspects of the media that that date is still up in the air. I want to make it abundantly clear that August 20 is the date when our 19,000 students in the primary school section will be writing the SEA examination.”

Garcia said he was confident teachers will do what is necessary to prepare their charges for the exam despite their misgivings over the date. “I am banking on the goodwill of our teachers. Our teachers have always shown goodwill where our students are concerned, as I have been saying, there is an emotional bond between a teacher and his/her class and I am sure our teachers will not want to break that bond or do anything that will interfere with the confidence of our students,” he said.

Garcia said the purpose of the tour, which encompassed one primary and one secondary school in the seven educational districts, was to ensure schools are ready for the exams.

“Of course there are some challenges and this is one of the reasons why we are insisting on our visits, so we can discuss with the principals the issues that concern them,” he said, noting the ministry is working to ensure any issues are rectified in time for the exams.

Garcia said the Student Support Division has also been reaching out to students and parents to ensure the students’ well-being ahead of the exams.

“They are very much on the ball, they are liaising with schools and even parents because some of our officers are visiting homes of parents in an effort to ensure that students are comfortable.”

Guardian Media tried contacting T&TUTA president Antonia De Freitas but calls to her cellphone went unanswered yesterday.