Sun | Dec 11, 2016

EDITORIAL - Kicking Hyde

Published:Saturday | October 11, 2014 | 12:00 AM

Dave Myrie, the principal of Kingston College (KC), owes parents and students who attend that high school, and the wider Jamaica, an explanation of his vision for the institution, including how and where academic performance and prowess sports rank among his priorities.

We raise this matter in the face of this week's dramatic and abrupt firing of the school's football coach, Lenworth Hyde, and in the context of a deepening concern among Jamaicans about the performance of the island's educational institutions and a sense that some sports achievements appear to be of a higher order of rank than education outcomes. We do not claim this to be the case at KC.

The Lennie Hyde matter, however, raises questions. He was let go in the immediate aftermath of the school's football team's 7-0 defeat by their arch-rivals and North Street neighbours, St George's College, in the Manning Cup. Hyde was told that he was being fired after an analysis of the team's performance and a decision to restructure to get "the best out of ... (it) for the remainder of the season".

Hyde has been at the job for only a few months, and his summary dismissal, with KC still in contention, smacks of the pumped-up attitude of professional teams whose economic survival rests heavily on winning. We, of course, do not underestimate, or belittle, the glory of sports and the contribution of games to the growth of the individuals/students who play and the uplifting of the institutions as a whole. Indeed, we understand the notion of living vicariously through one's sports heroes.

EDUCATION THE REAL GOAL

But, fundamentally, school is about delivering education to students, and the glory of an educational institution rests primarily on how it does that job. Sporting glory is an add-on.

In the absence of more details, it would seem to us that Kingston College got the position reversed. In the process, it may have run the risk of suggesting to its students, especially those who are good at games, that that is good enough, the raison d'être of their careers at the institution. And the risk doesn't stop only at KC, 88 per cent of whose students who sat math in this year's CXC exams got passing grades. Still, 12 per cent of KC's students failed, and the entire grade 11 cohort did not write the test.

KC remains one of Jamaica's best high schools, against which many newer, struggling institutions, including many of the so-called upgraded high schools, will likely measure themselves. So if for KC, sports, rather than educational outcomes, is the critical criterion by which to measure worth, why not the same at some struggling institutions with a cohort of kids who are good at jumping hoops, or kicking balls?

If the coach doesn't get the expected results, fire him midstream. Send the message of his unworthiness. Who cares about the teacher whose students receive failing grades and low grade-point averages?

But this, as we will be advised by Mr Myrie, would never be the case at KC. There is more to the matter of kicking out Lennie Hyde. We await those details.

The opinions on this page, except for the above, do not necessarily reflect the views of The Gleaner. To respond to a Gleaner editorial, email us: editor@gleanerjm.com or fax: 922-6223. Responses should be no longer than 400 words. Not all responses will be published.