March 23, 2007
‘Lack of emphasis on Physical Education’-College students

Some second year students enrolled in the Physical Education programme at the St. Vincent Community College are concerned that they are asked to be involved in a subject area, which to one high ranking official in the Ministry of Education is “totally irrelevant”.

The students – Elvin Peters, Gabriela Gooding and Otis Charles said that they encountered that response when they sought information for a class assignment from several stakeholders in education.#{{more}}

A response that has caused them to question,” Why we are in some cases forced to take up this subject as a means of meeting the requirements for entry to the college?”

But the students’ woes did not end there, as they were taken aback to learn of the absence of a physical education policy.

“To our great astonishment the officials at the Curriculum Department informed us that there was no policy for Physical Education presently, while in the case of Sport, the policy existing has been in its preamble stage for the last twelve years”, the students said.

This was rather puzzling to the students since officials at that department reiterated that Physical Education is a compulsory subject on the national curriculum.

Physical Education as compulsory subject in some cases extends only to Form three, since there are not many qualified teachers to carry the program further, nor was it offered by the Caribbean Examinations Council as an examinable subject before 2005.

The students were also critical of the reconfiguration of the portfolio of Sports in December 2005, which has since been attached to the Ministry of Youth and Tourism.

“This to us could obviously be true in view of the fact that the Department of Physical Education and Sports no longer falls under this Ministry, a decision, which from our detailed studies, would qualify as a totally regressive move. We are left only to assume that it was under their approval and almost certainly their advice that this move was made”, they opined.

The evidently enthused grouping stated “To us, this indicates that there is a lack of concern, inventiveness, vision and awareness pertaining to the significance of as well as the way forward in the development of this particular invaluable area”.

“We implore that there is the re-assignment of the Physical Education and Sports Department under the guidance of the Ministry of Education since this subject deals with the holistic development of the individual. Baalpe (1970) defined Physical Education as “that aspect of education which specifically employs psycho motor activities and the related moral and social experiences in the development of mature, disciplined and well integrated individuals”, the students lamented.

Providing suggestions for the relevant authorities, the outspoken and opinionated grouping said “In order for us as a nation to reap the benefits of this very vital area we must put thing in place in the very near future. We are already way behind and cannot waste time lingering further. Physical Education and its tributaries can take many of our nation’s youths out of poverty if only handled and encouraged correctly”.

A check with the Ministry of Education by SEARCHLIGHT revealed that they are pursuing the possibility to have students sit the subject as a full Advanced Level, either at CAPE, Cambridge International Examination or via an Australian Examining body.

Curriculum Support Officer in Physical Education and Sports in the Ministry of Education Otis Jack said “There is need for more teachers as we do not have the number of teachers in the system to spread the programme’’.

“It is not that emphasis is not being placed but very little was done in the past; we are making progress but not with the pace that we would like to see. It must be understood that Physical Education in the schools in a structured way is relatively new”, he added.

Last September, four former students of the St. Vincent Community College left here for Venezuela to pursue five year courses in Physical Education. One student studying is Sports Health and another Sports Training with the other two doing Sports Technology.