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Lost at SEA
YOU CAN’T blame the local media for fussing over the little boy and girl who came first and second in the Secondary Entrance Assessment exam, but I’m far more interested in the 30 per cent who couldn’t muster the same score – 30 firetrucking per cent!
Assuming, fairly safely, that this 30 per cent who can’t score even 30 per cent is a yearly figure, our primary school system has produced, according to my own pitiful arithmetic, 47,500 near-illiterates since the year 2000.
There aren’t that many cars to wash.
But I’m not today thinking of how sadly their adult lives will be spent, locked out of the mainstream by their illiteracy and condemned to pilfer their small satisfactions from passionless sex, fried food, rum – sorry, Hennessy White – and drugs.
No, I’m thinking how underappreciated they are on the third straight day of the two smart kids grabbing all the headlines and morning television spots, and the 2,500 of them scarcely even getting spat upon by the media.
So I’m giving them a little recognition.
Yesterday, I sent my imagination out to interview two of them, one African, one Indian, found on their local savannah.
Here is the transcript:
BC [peering behind rubbish bin at two small boy wearing khaki shorts and blue shirts opened to show, respectively, a Spain and a Colombia World Cup shirt] “Just not your week, eh? How you did in the SEA?”
Boy 1: “What essay, me ent even do the essay! But I put in answer for alla them other question, the matty-matt-tricks, the compression and the language art-form.”
BC: “So how you feeling, you didn’t even get 30 per cent?”
Boy 2: “That ent so bad, ent? How bad that is?”
BC: “That is like, it have ten mango you coulda get and you barely get three.”
Boy 2: “More mango question. I thought I did done with that.”
Boy 1: “I ent want to hear nothing ‘bout Carla & Boyo and how much DVD they did buy, eh.”
BC: “How your parents react to your SEA score?”
Boy 2: “Me ent know. I watching to see when my father leave the rumshop. If I give him a ten minutes before I go home, he will pass out.”
BC: “You all didn’t pay attention in class?”
Both: [looking around distractedly]: “Eh?”
BC: “Your parents didn’t send you for private lessons? You didn’t do the Newsday practice tests?”
Boy 2: “My father tell me study my books or he will give me a kick in the test-tickles, that is privates lesson!”
Boy 1: “I colour-in the Newsday comic strips real good. When I grow up, I want to be a drawer.”
BC: “What was your favourite subject in school?”
Both [promptly]: “Recess!”
BC: “You have any heroes?”
Boy 2 [promptly]: “T’Challa, W’Kabi, M’Baku and N’Jobu!”
BC: “You have any heroes not from Black Panther?”
Boy 1: “Keith Rowley! My father say, if he could be prime minister, I and all could be prime minister.”
BC: “You didn’t ask God for help?”
Boy 2: “I beg God like Hell! But he ent send one question I coulda answer, so I put in my father Lotto numbers for all the matty-matt-tricks answer. Them bound to be lucky.”
BC: “You didn’t pray?”
Boy 1: “I pray like a pastor, A-mur-cun accent and all. I beg like Neymar does beg for free kick. But Jesus blank me. But God have a plan for me!”
BC: “So what you going to do now?”
Boy 1: “It have a nice older fella on the block, Ben Ten, he promise to give the both o’ we plenty work.”
BC: “Really not your firetrucking week, is it?”
Boy 2: “My community leader say not to bother with the SEA, we ent need 100 per cent, not even one-to-ten, we just need a nines.”
BC: “You want to say anything to Trinidad & Tobago?”
Boy 1[after long pause]: “Is a trick?”
BC: “No, you have the attention of the whole country, and they not likely to ever think about you again. So say what you feel in your heart!”
Boy 2 [after long pause]: “I could get a Uruguay World Cup shirt?”
Boy 1: “And I want a Brasil World Cup shirt!”
BC: “Really, really not your firetrucking week, is it?”
Boy 1: “You could tell the Ministry and them that we try we best, as children, but, how you all adults have things, we couldn’t make a note.”
Boy 2: “You could ask them how it work out that, at ten years old, the only hope for two Trinidad boys is Brooklyn or Canada.”
BC: “This is your last chance: what you have to say for the whole of Trinidad to hear?”
Boy 2: “It must have some job for children who get 30 per cent in the SEA.”
Boy 1: “I feel the both o’ we could become either a preacher or a politician.”
BC [shaking head sadly]: “No, sorry, you’re overqualified for those.”
BC Pires went to a prestige school and brought shame to it