While thousands of students celebrate their Secondary Entrance Assessment results Wednesday, more than 2,500 pupils will face disappointment having scored below 30 per cent in the 2018 exam.
Statistics obtained by the Guardian show that overall, students scored the lowest this year in Mathematics than they did since 2010.
In Mathematics 58.8 per cent of pupils scored over 50 per cent for 2018.
For this decade, the highest Mathematics scores were recorded in 2011 and 2012 - 73.1 per cent in 2011 and 72. 4 per cent in 2012.
In Grammar, 57.7 per cent of students scored over 50 per cent for 2018, compared to 76.4 in 2017 and 72.8 in 2015.
In an interview, president of the T&T Unified Teachers Association Lynsley Doodhai said the statistics were worrying especially since 2,170 pupils scored less than 30 per cent last year, compared to 2,595 pupils scoring less than 30 per cent this year.
"This represents 13.6 per cent of the 19,185 pupils who sat the exams this year and it is something that we must address," Doodhai added.
He said while the Minister of Education Anthony Garcia and Minister in the Ministry Dr Lovell Francis visits the top students today, some focus must be placed on the ones who are likely to fall through the cracks because of poor performance.
Defending the nation's teachers Doodhai said while some may be quick to blame teachers for poor performance, citizens should remember that many of the pupils who underperform do so because of learning disabilities, poor parental support, or behavioural challenges.
"Naturally when you hear figures like this people immediately say that it is the fault of teachers. Maybe to a small extent, some teachers may have contributed to this by not fulfilling their functions as a teacher but this is minuscule when you look at the real issues. In classes where you have students excelling and some students failing, they are taught by the same teachers so you cannot say it is the teachers' fault.
Don't blame the teachers because some of these students have behavioural issues, learning disabilities and some don't enjoy the level of parental support and involvement that they deserve," Doodhai said.
He called on the government to expend additional resources to the Student Support Services saying there were not enough professionals at the SSS to deal with increasing challenges at schools.
"There are students who are in need of special education programmes but the requisite number of specialized people are not there. This is one of the major reasons why students are falling through the cracks. Most teachers are not trained to deal with students like these and even if the teacher is trained it is difficult to deal with the special needs children when dealing with an overcrowded curriculum and syllabus," Doodhai added.
He said those students who are over 13 years old and who scored below 30 per cent will be placed in a secondary school even though they are unable to read or write. Doodhai called on the government to provide remedial teachers in schools to help these pupils.
Efforts to contact the president of the National Parent Teachers Association President Raffiena Ali-Boodoosingh proved futile yesterday as calls and messages sent to her cellular phone went unanswered.
The Ministry in a statement said Minister Anthony Garcia will be visiting the schools of the top three students to announce the results.
The team will be at the first school at 8:30 am.
Source: www.guardian.co.tt (Radhica De Silva)