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Student doing online classes via laptop.

The Secondary Entrance Assessment examination (SEA) is once again under the spotlight.

This as discussions have commenced on the future of the examination and its role in how students transition to secondary schools.

The National Consultation on Education kicked off on Tuesday with the contentious Secondary Entrance Assessment examination dominating the first of six virtual conferences.

Over the years stakeholders have mulled over whether or not the examination had been serving its purpose or adding to the anxiety of students and parents.

Weighing in on issues in the sector was prime minister Dr Keith Rowley.

He said education has been a top priority for the State over the years, as evidenced by the allocation in the national budget.

But he said while there had been significant successes over the last 40 or 50 years, there were also “serious shortcomings.”

Dr Rowley said as such tough decisions will have to be made to correct the education imbalances.

“What we have to be concerned about is whether the population is prepared to make the adjustments that an honest and open discussion will throw up for us because certain recommendations will arise and some of those recommendations will be far-reaching with respect to implications for who does what,” he said.

Former Chief Education Officer Harrilal Seecharan said the purpose of a placement examination now needs to be revisited, “We also need to keep in mind the role of SEA and the impact and influence it has on the primary school education system and whether it is supporting or countering those skills and competencies students come out of primary school with.”

And according to the president of the National Primary Schools Principals Association Lance Mottley, COVID- 19 has exposed a number of inadequacies in the education sector, raising particular red flags with the SEA exam.

Motley asked, “Is Trinidad and Tobago prepared to maintain a status quo that has been a source of concern for the year?”

Meanwhile, Dr Rowley also asked for further discussions to be held on the role of the State and the clergy in the education system.

The public can visit the national consultation webpage to review topic brochures and submit suggestions and recommendations.