On Target
November 23, 2007
Just souring – not turning ripe

The fight for turf between the persons charged with promoting Physical Education in the Ministry of Education and those in the Ministry of Sports has continued, and another round of action, began this new school year.

As it is, the latter has no hand in the staging of the annual Inter Schools’ Football Competition. Over the past months, there has been friction between the two entities, neither of which wants to give in, in the name of maturity.{{more}}

The latest in the saga is that members of the Department of Sports and Physical Education have been debarred from conducting any forms of coaching in the school. A directive that came from the Ministry of Education. But it was long in coming, as the tension has been simmering for sometime. The fact that two of the key players in both ministries do not speak to each other, tells of the impasse.

What was the genesis of the Ministry of Education’s actions? Was it a retaliatory based on the tensions? Or was it to show, that someone, somewhere has some clout?

Being involved in the education system, I am aware of the problems faced in the schools. But it goes beyond the perennial hindrances of equipment and having some equality with the core subject areas. It has come down to where some persons have taken liberty with unbridled comments, and finger pointing of where the problems lie, not in the system, but in the hierarchy. This leaves me to conclude that the issues at hand, are of personality.

The entire affair needs fixing and may require the intervention of highest political order in the land, as no one wants to give up his or her turf, and let maturity reign.

The result is that we have become clueless as to the direction we want Sports and Physical Education to go in this country. Our preoccupation has been to seek accolades, while the sports in the schools hemorrhage, as guidance is certainly lacking.

What we have is a set of institutions with the term Sports tagged on, yet we are not seeing the fruits of their existence. And if they bear, they are ‘fluxy’, or do not have much shelf life.

The nomenclature of Director of Sports and Physical Education becomes somewhat of a misfit, if that person has little say in the direction in the way the two should go in this country. A name says a lot.

I would have thought that with Physical Education being offered as a subject both at the CSEC and at an Advanced sitting, and with more scholarships being available to study in that capacity, those with the administrative strings, would have gotten their act together.

What we have each year is a series of events in our schools, with the sole aim of having students involved in some sporting activities, then that’s it. Hence the reason that many students are moving away from sports, at times not because of their lack of competence, but a general lack of direction and purpose.

And, when our students deviate from the norm, no one looks in the mirror, and asks himself or herself, am I the cause, because of my lethargy and lack of foresight?

There’s no structured approach for the development of the athletes in our school system, and we continue to spin our tops in mud, by having bits and pieces of workshops, seminars and coaching clinics, with no follow ups. The school for years, was the catchment area for most of the nation’s athletes, and with Universal Access to Secondary Education in effect, this has acquired greater importance in the last three years.

Yet there is no synergy between the Ministry of Education and this instance the Ministry of Tourism, Youth and Sports.

To show how lacking we are in this respect, there is always a fight with the National Sports Council, with these two ministries over the use of facilities, to conduct their programmes. A solution must be found soonest.

But there seems to be no solution to that “Mound” at the Sion Hill Playing Field, which continues to stand as an obstacle, rather than an attraction.