Sat | Dec 3, 2016

Student-athlete discrimination

Published:Tuesday | March 3, 2015 | 12:00 AM
Thwaites

In what was tantamount to a grand waste of the Parliament's time, the contentious issue of the transfer of student athletes within the Jamaican high-school system was foisted back into the spotlight courtesy of the recent presentation of what was said to be a policy framework to chart the way forward by the minister of education, Ronald Thwaites.

The minister basically reinforced the existing transfer regulations put in place by the Inter-Secondary Schools Sports Association (ISSA), with the only variations being the proposed setting up of a clearing house by ISSA and the mandatory requirement that the education ministry approves all student-athlete transfers.

 

minuscule minority

 

Having already argued extensively, I'll repeat that it is myopic, imprudent and simply bereft of coherent thought to be advocating the abolition of student-athlete transfers in our unique socio-economic Jamaican context, and it is actually a minuscule minority of misguided and illogical individuals who are trying relentlessly to force a first-world model into our third-world reality.

How could any well-thinking Jamaican, who knows and understands the humble circumstances from which the large majority of our sporting heroes emerge, be supportive of actions aimed at stopping poor, ambitious Jamaican children, who have sporting talent, from maximising their potential, in pursuit of some mythical panacea?

It smacks of classism and is utter disdain and disregard for the welfare of the common Jamaican. This anti-student transfer lobby is blatantly unprincipled, hypocritical and discriminatory.

The very fact that different standards are set for the students who play sports, relative to the rest of the student body, represents unfair targeting and treatment of the sport-inclined student.

Ever since this debate was rekindled a few years ago, I have been literally begging for someone, anyone, anywhere to explain away the hypocrisy and the double standard highlighted by figures obtained from the Ministry of Education that point to almost one in every three students who exited the high-school system at the grade 11 level in 2013 left the system without passing a single CSEC subject.

 

CSEC RESULTS FOR 2013

 

n Total Grade 11 Cohort: 42,200.

n Combined number of students who did not qualify to sit, plus those who sat and failed to pass even one

subject: 11,893.

n Percentage of grade 11 students who left school without even one subject: 28.2 %.

The harsh reality, as confirmed by those figures, is that after spending a minimum of five years in the system, CLOSE to 30 PER CENT of the students, the majority of which played no sport, leave the high-school system with nothing to show.

Yet there is no commensurate outcry.

The hypocrisy, however, prevails in that students who are good at sprinting or football or basketball or cricket are disqualified from representing their school in sport, unless they qualify academically. No such requirement for any other group within the school system.

 

bench warmers

 

So the 'bench warmers' are allowed to float through the school system without contributing or achieving anything, but if the student athletes dare to join the bench-warmers club, their right to play school sport will be taken away.

Those same sport-inclined students are now being further singled out and asked to satisfy special and unique stipulations if they decide to move from one school to the other. Again, the conspicuous contrast is that the mathematically inclined boy or the scientifically inclined girl, or even the Schools Challenge Quiz player, the Key Club members, the debating club members, the cadet force members, etc. are all as free as the proverbial bird to move from school to school without any equivalent stipulation.

If that is not glaring hypocrisy, blatant double standard, overt discrimination, and vicious victimisation against student athletes, then the trees are blue and the sea is red!

The last time I checked, the trees are still green and the sea still takes its blue off the beautiful sky.