There is an urgent need for there to be a national policy in respect of sports in the nation’s schools. There is a fundamental difference between the emerging policy in respect of physical education in the schools of this nation and sports at the same institutions.
The Ministry of Education has facilitated the establishment of an organisation called the Physical Education and Sports Teachers Association (PESTA). The overall mandate of this organisation as well as its over-arching policy framework is yet to be determined. Suffice it to state here that PESTA fits in with the
Ministry’s overall policy of having the different subject areas under its ambit establish an association to aid in their development as well as serve to facilitate new approaches to their implementation in the overall development of the education product.
During the previous year there was a lack of clarity in respect of the role of the Division of Sports relative to the schools of the nation. In the end the Division was kept at bay.
This columnist has always stated that the Division of Sports as presently constituted should not be placed in the public service domain. The Division should be attached to a reconstructed National Sports Council (NSC), with a mandate to provide coaches for the development of sports in schools in the post school hours and with communities thereafter. Any further involvement in schools should be of the order to assist in specially designated areas based on a comprehensive plan for school sports through the coming together of the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Sport, PESTA and the National Sports Council. National sports associations are expected to provide the necessary technical assistance wherever this is deemed necessary in respect of the development of sports in the schools. Outside of this the associations must focus on the development of clubs and the organisation of training and competitions.
The current furore between the Division of Sports and the Ministry of Education may well have surfaced from the former’s prior experience where its members were seen as working with schools during the 8 – 4 daily period. This is a fallacy and reflects a lack of understanding of the sport development process and of their role within it. This should never have been the case in the first place. Coaches ought not to be treated as teachers or ordinary public servants.
National Sports Council
The NSC remains an unfortunate institution bereft of any genuine sense of direction. The original mandate was to develop sporting infrastructure. Unfortunately this organisation has been a political plaything and has never been allowed to fulfill its mandate in an independent manner.
The organisation needs to be refocused in 2008 if we are to be serious.
The NSC must be the major national umbrella organisation for the development of sport in St Vincent and the Grenadines. It must be structured in a manner that allows for it to be the professional organisation that it ought to be.