Sun | Oct 13, 2019

Unfair to Calabar

Published:Wednesday | April 10, 2019 | 12:14 AM


This letter is not in defence of high school student athletes. I attended Calabar sixth form and am a former board chair of another high school with a strong sports programme. I know the lure of idolising student athletes and giving them a pass.

But I’m concerned about the criticism levelled at Calabar. That it favours athletic prowess and achievement over academics, a charge repeated in Jamaican media and online. One newspaper editorial states, “The problem facing some schools, including Calabar, is that they place sporting success above academic achievements.”

Just a gentle reminder. It was not so long ago that the Calabar principal was taken to task (unfairly, I believe) for setting academic standards as a condition for continued school enrolment.

A letter to parents from the Calabar principal, quoted in The Gleaner last August, said that to “be promoted to grade 11, each boy MUST receive no less than 60 per cent for his overall average, along with good conduct. The students have been told this repeatedly. It is my intention to promote every fourth-form boy to fifth form. Please assist him to surpass this average. Students with unsatisfactory grades will be given letters inviting their parents.”

Some in the media and the public took umbrage at this.

How is it that within a matter of months the school has suddenly turned to preferring athletics over academics? Memory is fleeting. Those quick to pass judgement, editorial writers especially, should take care to examine the evidence.

The Calabar teacher-students dispute and the behaviour of student athletes at issue may have been handled differently, but to accuse the school of prioritising athletics over academics does not stand up to scrutiny.


Alexandria, Virginia, USA