School sports – a valued necessity

Given the crisis that hit school sports for more than a year it appears that no one in authority took the time to show any appreciation for the Mission Statement re the National Sports Policy. Had it been otherwise we would never have allowed the situation to deteriorate in the manner in which it did.
But there is more. The Ministry of Education has failed to fulfill what many see as its mandate in respect of outfitting the nation’s schools with physical education teachers.
The same Policy states:
Physical Education shall be on the curriculum of all educational institutions in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. Each institution shall be equipped with a trained teacher with designated responsibility for physical education.
This aspect of the Policy has never been taken seriously enough. The fact that physical education found its way on to the syllabus of the Caribbean Examinations Council may well explain why there has been some movement towards identifying some teachers as being responsible for this programme. In many cases the teachers are ill equipped for the tasks involved. They are inadequately trained, for the most part.
We are only now having PE graduates coming out of universities in numbers that can make us begin to feel some sense of movement but here again it is not a result of any deliberate policy. There is no manpower or human resources policy that guides individuals into the selection of PE as an option because of the need for such qualified personnel in the education system. They are not a priority in the schema that is the so-called ‘Education Revolution’. There has been no identification of our PE needs and therefore no systematic identification of persons to be sent forward for training to meet these needs. Until such time as such an analysis is undertaken we are operating without applying the rudiments of science in our approach to development in our education system.
It may well be that the authorities, beginning at the very top of the political/governmental heap do not yet grasp the significance of PE and sport to the well being of each individual human being and their contribution to national development.
While we have grown accustomed to the holding of annual sports competitions between our institutions there is really no policy that speaks to this. This may well be the reason that every year, without fail, the sports programme for schools emerges as a crude mix of haphazard trite.

We have been informed that after an absence of several years and largely as a result of personality conflicts the Ministry of Education and the Division of Sports have come to an understanding that the annual sports programme must involve national sports associations integrally.
We have been this way before.
It is always important for there to be a very close relationship between the primary stakeholders of any enterprise and the school sports programme cannot be an exception to this fundamental rubric.
We are told that there is now a Schools Sports Committ
ee that will include among its membership representatives of the various national associations whose sports are currently practised in the educational institutions of the nation. This over-arching Committee will establish sub committees by sporting discipline. Each of these sub committees would therefore include among its membership representatives of the particular national sports association who would assist in ensuring the following: the establishment of Competitions Regulations consistent with those of the respective International Federations (IF) and therefore grant appropriate sanction to the event on behalf of the latter; provide competent instructors to facilitate the training of officials from among teachers and senior students to form a cadre of technical officials to officiate at the particular competitions; assist in the drafting of competition schedules for the respective sporting disciplines; assist in the administration of the competitions; provide assistance with the development and maintenance of databases inclusive of results of competitions for archival and comparative purposes; assist with the procurement of sponsorship; and, aid in the selection of pertinent training squads for schools and other competitions at the regional level.
The idea is one of ‘horses for courses’. National sports associations must now become involved in the process of physical development and orientation towards sport at the early stages of an individual’s life. It is for this reason that it is being recommended here that the PESTA should be inclusive of the primary and tertiary level educational institutions of St Vincent and the Grenadines.
PESTA has a critical role to play in the fashioning of the programmatic development of physical education and sport in the nation by ensuring the identification of needs within the system, encouraging students to select PE and sport degree options for future careers. This will inevitably lead to more individuals becoming interested in competitive sport as a means of making a livelihood. It would also lead to more persons becoming coaches and professionals in this area of endeavour. Ultimately, this approach would facilitate better health in the nation and allow us to be counted among the sporting nations of the world even as our overall productivity increases to allow for greater, more broad-based national development.