Laugh out Loud
On Target
June 7, 2019

Laugh out Loud

It is more than laughable that Minister of Health, Wellness and the Environment Hon. Luke Browne, should speak out vehemently against the lack-lustre manner in which Physical Education is treated within the nation’s schools.

According to the SEARCHLIGHT publication of May 28, 2019, Browne said: “Some teachers treat PE as it is just an academic subject, so they sit down in the classroom and talk about PE and that is not what is necessary. That is not going to help us with physical literacy and not what is going to help us with movement, and that is certainly not what is going to help us with the fight with Non-Communicable Diseases”.

As reported in that said publication, Browne noted that while he has seen a lot of literature encouraging people, including young students, to walk a mile a day, the schools are not setting the pace for physical activity.

The minister said that he has known of instances where schools have gone without having school sports for years, and that is wrong.

Whilst Browne’s comments and pronouncements have merit and he must be given the benefit of the doubt that he is not simply expounding on such matters for publicity sake, hence, questions the shaping of his government’s policies.

Therefore, Browne’s concerns are a direct disparity in what actual obtains, in terms of placing Physical Education on a proper footing in the schools.

Browne must be reminded that Physical Education is a mandatory inclusion on the time table of the primary schools, yet the Ministry of Education does not appoint personnel with the sole instruction to teach Physical Education as a subject.

As it is, Physical Education just dresses up the time tables in the primary schools, and nothing more.

So where then is the synergy between the two ministries? Or is it that Browne’s concerns are just his personal view and not that of others within the Ministry of Health, Wellness and the Environment?

If then, you Mr. Browne, are so concerned with the state of Physical Education in the schools, why are you not using your office to be an advocate of change?

But successive governments here in St Vincent and the Grenadines have viewed sports and Physical Education as mere recreational and not vehicles for national development and proper human living.

The current administration, whilst having made some effort to add value to Physical Education in the schools, has still been shortchanging the process.

Yes, more persons who have been successful at sitting Physical Education as an advanced subject level, have been employed in some of our secondary schools.

But is it at the secondary level where students should begin a structured Physical Education Programme?

The primary schools are where the structured Physical Education should be introduced and not at the secondary schools, as other factors then impinge of students’ reception to new knowledge.

Instead, persons on the Youth Empowerment Service (YES) programme are sent to the primary schools and are utilized to disseminate some specific skill, which is often passed off as Physical Education.

This unstructured engagement has been counter-productive in most instances.
These, in most cases, are persons who are involved in sports, but do not have the know- how to teach students at their fertile receptive period of the lives.

The counter argument would be at least there is some semblance of attention being paid to this area; however, once something is worth doing, it is worth doing well.

So Mr. Browne must also be reminded that the administration which he is part of, after the declaration of Caribbean Wellness Day in 2007, like most of the other CARICOM agreements, has treated its recognition with little respect and regard.

When last has a concerted effort been made by St Vincent and the Grenadines to have anything meaningful done on the day (commemorated on the third Saturday in September) to sensitise the populace of the importance of wellness.

Yes Mr. Browne, it is all well and good for you to challenge the status quo, as it relates to Physical Education in our schools, but it is fair to say that your administration is the architect of the current set up of Physical Education in the schools.

One can therefore conclude that Physical Education is seen as a tag-along and not a subject area of substance.