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Academic standards over sports standards

Lascelve GRAHAM

Tuesday, February 25, 2014    

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Owen Speid, principal of Rousseau Primary School, recently stated in the media: "ISSA seems to have forgotten that chief among the original reasons for having inter-school sports is for students to develop socially, physically and emotionally." Does he not know that students don't need inter-school sports to develop socially, physically and emotionally? Is he aware that the great majority of successful countries, educationally and economically, don't have inter-school sports? And that, where it exists, it plays an extremely secondary role in schools? Can he appreciate that these countries are often fanatical about sports and do very well internationally at a number of sports, but that they organise sports separate and apart from school? Is he cognisant that many of these countries are wary of the competitive intensity encouraged by interscholastic sports, and that many feel it is counterproductive and interferes with the core mission of school?

We cannot continue to warp our education system and lower our standards even further in an attempt to facilitate sports. Times have changed, sports has ballooned in so many aspects, but we lazily continue to want to use the same old methods from the 1940s for youth sports development. It has only served to distort, disrupt and make more difficult our drive to educate all our children.

We must start celebrating education, especially in our schools, as have other countries that have made tremendous strides in educating their population.

According to Speid, ISSA's academic bar is too high and he goes further to say: "I see clear signs of discrimination against a certain cadre of students in our school system. These students are generally from the lower socio-economic strata of society."

The majority of the children in our schools are from poor economic situations, so whatever one does will more than likely affect a lot of them. Perhaps we should do away with CSEC and CAPE since they disenfranchise and discriminate against so many from the lower socio-economic strata of society. Why don't we have strong dancing and dejay-ing inter-school competitions? Isn't this omission disenfranchising and discriminating against many more poor children who need the outlet provided by these activities? Where does it end Mr Speid?

Take your head out of the clouds, come back to earth and understand that without a minimal level of education it will be very difficult for anybody — sports person or not — to make it in this globalised world.

I refer the good principal to an article published in the Observer (23/2/14) titled 'Local footballers cry foul'. It deals with our leagues where many former schoolboy superstars ply their trade and tells of their economic difficulties. This as many scouts come to Jamaica with multiple sports scholarships in hand and return home with very few taken up because of the dismal academic standard of our youth who showed excellent sports potential. Mr Speid and others of his ilk should focus their efforts to ensure that infinitely more of our youngsters leave primary school able to absorb the education offered at the secondary level.

Dr Lascelve 'Muggy' Graham is a former Jamaica football captain.

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