Nearly 4,000 nervous children did the Common Entrance Examination today. By the time you read this the even more nervous parents would have now been back home after the traumatic experience of seeing their young ones go through this examination process.
You would think the way some parents and guardian react that the children were facing the most horrific period of their lives. I actually believe the parents are the horrifying ones. They scare these poor children more than the life-changing exam they are about to do.
So far I have only had to witness one child go into the examination room, and I did that over six years ago. A good luck hug and a kiss and I was off to allow them to do their work. It was years of preparation for this day so my sticking around the examination centre would not be of any help to her.
Are these children really ready for this test that will determine how they are viewed by the rest of the island or even more by their parents? Are these kids going to be hugged and kissed after the results show they will not be going to one of the older secondary schools that their parents and teacher probably had in mind for them?
I would hope they would be, and also be told that it really doesn’t matter which school they go to. I guess that is easy to say but we know we are simply lying to these kids. It isn’t what we believe at all and surely not what we mean.
We programme the children to believe they are going to go to the school of our choice and not the one they are more likely to attend based on their performance. If you ask some parents what their child’s workbooks look like they cannot tell you. That is simply because their school life only seemed interesting when the Common Entrance Exam drew near. Outside of that maybe NAPSAC fuelled some interest.
I could be wrong but over the years I’ve been seeing the exam as totally overrated. First of all the exam is based on Mathematics and Language Arts. I always wanted to write that subject name since primary school, and it looks funny and even funnier saying Language Arts so I will revert to English instead.
The pressure placed on these children is simply unnecessary. They are tested on two subjects and later introducing to seven or eight more which will determine if they repeat their first year or move on to the second year or a higher or lower class.
It may not seem fair but what is these days? Very often we see the media highlight a few brainiacs who achieved eight, nine or ten CXC’s with grade ones, who then go on to be scholars or exhibition winners. If we look a lot closer we will see those children may have been at a newer secondary school first or never finished in the top ten or even 20 during the common entrance exam results.
Since there is no other proven method to test the children so placement in a secondary school can be achieved, we have no choice but to go with it yet again. It may be the only way that rich, poor black, white or polka-dot can be placed without any controversy.
Therefore the gatherings before and during the exams outside the schools will continue. Sort of like during elections by the polling stations. Crowds were visual and vocal and it had something to do about possible results. Whatever the results for these children, I honestly hope you parents can show the children some love and satisfaction with their efforts.
They know you may be disappointed with them but they will do their best. I hope you filled those placement forms based on your child’s ability and not on your dreams and wishes. That way they will be no major surprises for you and hustling for transfers later. Good luck to Barbados’ future leaders.