In the recent past Physical Education has been thrust upon us in the school system. This resulted from a decision at the level of the Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC) rather than from the initiative of our governments who, for decades, have ignored the advice of successive sports administrators for this subject to be given full status on the education programme of the nation. Had it not been for the CXC we would probably still be at the stage of considering ‘Games’ an unnecessary humbug in the educational development of the children of the nation.
For decades we have had high-ranking government officials who paid absolutely nothing more than lip-service to sport and absolutely no consideration was given to the progress being made globally in the viability of physical education as integral to the educational development of children.
The capacity of Alfie Roberts, Andrew Cummings, Carl Glasgow and others to combine their respective sports careers with their academic development through to professional careers did not seem to impact successive generations of government administrators.
There was a time when the Grammar School Sports was the envy of the nation. Today it is just another event on the annual calendar. There was a time when the Grammar School fielded cricket and football teams in national competitions and this had the full support of the parents. Today the school finds great difficulty in getting students to engage in sporting activities beyond the end of the school day.
Throughout the nation’s school system there are reports of declining numbers participating in the annual sports competitions. Inter-House competitions no longer hold the interest of the entire school population and even the teachers assigned to the various houses seem to have lost interest.
Teachers now focus more attention on self. They are not so readily disposed to working beyond the five-day week and they, too, rush out of the staff rooms following the ringing of the final bell.
It now appears that the education programme leaves the teachers too tired to care enough for their students beyond the stipulated hours with few exceptions. In this scenario therefore sport is not perceived as being of sufficient interest.
The opportunity for some students to pursue careers in physical education and sport has not been met by large numbers clamouring to select the physical education option as one of their selected subject areas of study for CXC. Indeed one gets the impression that many now see this in the same vein as was once the case in respect of the technical/vocational subject areas.
There is merit in the argument that there may well be changes in the way in which the education programme is developed, administered and managed. At the centre perhaps not enough attention has been given to the more-rounded development of the student or perhaps it is a case of the conceptualisation by the authorities of precisely what constitutes such ‘rounded’ development of students.
The school can do much more in facilitating a healthy approach to physical education, sport and recreation. Perhaps it remains an issue of too little appreciation for the holistic approach to personal development. The presentation of education remains decidedly compartmentalised constricting students to retention of a false
perception of the education process and how it is supposed to impact their development for life.
Educators and social scientists argue strongly that the school is a continuation of the home. The teachers are co-developers with parents of the children in their charge. That responsibility seems all too forgotten. They must encourage parents to work with their children to live healthy life styles. They must encourage parents to see the benefits of a healthy balance between the academic work and the sporting/recreational activities of the child.
There is no gainsaying the important role that the community once played in the development of sport and sporting personalities in St Vincent and the Grenadines in times past.
In almost every area where sport was popular there was the community rallying in support. The story is told of the Montrose community and the tremendous support that the Thiopian Sports Club, later to become TRAC, received from the community. Families would all come together in support of the athletes.