Parents divided on Garcia’s SEA stress comments

The SEA Par­ent Sup­port Group is di­vid­ed on whether or not par­ents re­al­ly are the ones to blame for plac­ing “stress” on the shoul­ders of the stu­dents writ­ing the ex­am.

Re­spond­ing to claims by Min­is­ter of Ed­u­ca­tion An­tho­ny Gar­cia that par­ents are the ones re­spon­si­ble, Resh­ma Ra­moutar-Ack­bar­ali said, “I to­tal­ly dis­agree.”

 

The proud par­ent of a daugh­ter who passed for her first choice in this year’s SEA ex­am, Ra­moutar-Ack­bar­ali said, “All par­ents want the best for their chil­dren and will do what they have to do to make them have a fair chance, so I don’t agree with that state­ment.”

Speak­ing on the is­sue dur­ing an in­ter­view at Guardian Me­dia Lim­it­ed yes­ter­day, sev­er­al mem­bers of the group ar­gued that Gar­cia spoke out of turn when he claimed that par­ents were re­spon­si­ble for plac­ing an in­or­di­nate amount of pres­sure on their chil­dren by push­ing them to achieve the high­est lev­els of aca­d­e­m­ic ex­cel­lence.

How­ev­er, the group’s founder Rachiel Ram­samaooj pre­sent­ed a con­trast­ing view as she ten­ta­tive­ly ad­mit­ted, “I think there is some truth in that.”

Ram­samooj re­spond­ed, “Yes, you do have some par­ents who are push­ing their chil­dren a lit­tle too much and the choic­es that you have is not what the child wants but more what the par­ent wants in some cas­es.”

Mem­ber Roash­ion Per­sadie agreed there was some truth as he said the out­put was a di­rect re­sult of the ef­fort by the stu­dent, cou­pled with the par­ents’ wish­es and al­so the ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem.

He stressed that each group had to main­tain re­al­is­tic goals while fo­cus­ing on where the gaps ex­ist and how they can be reme­died.

Math­e­mat­ics tu­tor Ron­nie Williams added, “You re­al­ly have to look at all stake­hold­ers…teach­ers, par­ents and the chil­dren so it’s not that easy to point at one per­son and say you are at fault or you are the one who’s caus­ing the sys­tem to break down.”

Dr Ker­rilee Stew­art of UWI called on the Min­istry of Ed­u­ca­tion to care­ful­ly ex­am­ine their part in the en­tire process as she said all par­ties had to stop pass­ing the buck and ac­cept re­spon­si­bil­i­ty for the part they each play in prepar­ing stu­dents for SEA.

Asked to iden­ti­fy the source of stress that par­ents un­der­go, Per­sadie said, “The chil­dren are pre­cious and we val­ue them so much and there is an emo­tion­al side. One can’t dis­con­nect that.”

He said this is where the need for “soft skills” came in as par­ents may mean well but are un­aware of how to de­liv­er and may in­ad­ver­tent­ly trans­fer that emo­tion on­to the child—which he ac­knowl­edged formed the ba­sis of Gar­cia’s ar­gu­ment.

With re­gards to the 2019 SEA ex­am, Ra­moutar-Ack­bar­ali claimed, “I per­son­al­ly felt we weren’t pre­pared for the changes for this ex­am. The kids who sat this year felt as if we were the guinea pigs for all the changes the min­istry set out.”

She dis­agreed that teach­ers and stu­dents had had two years to pre­pare as spec­i­men pa­pers were on­ly re­leased in No­vem­ber 2018, while the SEA ex­am was sched­uled for April 4.

The group ac­ced­ed that while there is a need to de­vel­op crit­i­cal thinkers, stu­dents had been trained via a cer­tain sys­tem from preschool and to im­pose the new mod­el with­out ad­e­quate time and train­ing, was detri­men­tal to their per­for­mance.

Reporter: Anna-Lisa Paul

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