Guyanese boy to be allowed to sit TT secondary entrance exam

The 11-year-old Guyanese boy who was being prevented from writing the Secondary Entrance Assessment (SEA) examination by the Trinidad and Tobago (TT) Ministry of Education because he did not have a student permit will now be allowed to do so.

One of the attorneys representing the boy’s parents, Stephan Ramkissoon, who wrote to the ministry requesting that he be allowed to sit the exam, was on Friday informed in a letter by acting Permanent Secretary Lenor Baptiste-Simmons that the boy will be allowed to sit the exam.

In the letter, Baptiste-Simmons revealed that other students, who were in a similar predicament, will also be allowed to write the exam.

Ramkissoon told Sunday Stabroek that he was not aware that other foreign students were being denied the right to write the exam until he saw the ministry’s response.

However, Baptiste-Simmons said, “The students’ admission to a secondary school is contingent upon production of the valid student permit as required under Regulation 9 of the Immigration Regulations made under the immigration Act.”

In his letter to TT Education Minister Anthony Garcia, Ramkissoon asked for the child to be immediately returned to his regular Standard Five class and allowed to take the exam. The child was demoted to Standard Four last month at the school he attends in Carapichaima and was told he would not be able to write the exam.

Ramkissoon said that the child attended school in Trinidad for seven years, but was only recently told because he is not a citizen and does not have a student permit, he could not write the exam.

He told the minister that the child had already made his school choices and had been “studying and working with great effort towards succeeding at the SEA exams.”

The parents were told by the school that it was acting on the direction of the ministry, in accordance with a newly implemented policy.

In the letter to the ministry, Ramkissoon quoted from the Equal Opportunity Act, the Education Act, the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas to make the claim that the child was being prevented from further pursuing his education and was being discriminated against.

The letter said the child’s siblings also attended the school and successfully sat the exam in 2014 and 2017 and that the child had a legitimate expectation that he too would be allowed to write the exam.

The minister was given until April 16th, when the new school term opens, to give instructions to have the boy returned to Standard Four, and be allowed to write the exam.

The lawyers said that if they had received no response by last Friday, they would have asked the court for an injunction to force the ministry to permit him to sit the test.

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