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Concentration on academics

Published:Monday | March 22, 2010 | 12:00 AM

Cynthia Cooke, Contributor

I saw a track and field athletics coach at a meet recently. He was bitterly expressing his disappointment in his school not being able to perform at the meet. The reason he was given, by the acting principal, is that the school was now focusing on academics and would direct all money in that direction. The students had practised and were ready to test their skills and so were very disappointed by the decision.

This is typical of the recent utterings of some parents and teachers. I really do not understand what this means. The whole school system is focused on the so-called academics. This can be confirmed by looking at the timetables of the schools, the disciplines in which the majority of the teachers are qualified, and where the majority of the school's budgetary allocations are placed.

Sports is usually the target, with student athletes having to fight the system within the schools in order to perform, often bringing joy to the members of the school community when they do well. If the principal and a few teachers do not make the effort, what we celebrate as Jamaicans would not exist.

I recently looked at the Vision 2030 which was produced by a task force in 2004. I noted the following: And the 'Profile of the Educated Jamaican' affirms that the educated Jamaican will:

1. Love to learn and will therefore be a lifelong learner, conti-nuously developing wisdom and knowledge.

2. Be well-rounded, agile of mind, able to adjust to different situations, responsible and able to make decisions.

3. Speak an additional language and have at least the minimum requirements for tertiary education.

4. Be a productive citizen-worker in charge of his or her personal economic advancement.

5. Contribute to national develop-ment by being:

Socially aware and responsible

Tolerant of diversity

Rooted in his/her Jamaican "Smaddiness"

Last year, my school community produced what we named, "The Profile of a Camperdown School Leaver". These are some of the characteristics that they would like to see in every student at the end of grade eleven. Every student should:

Have a CXC-CSEC General Proficiency Certificate in at least five subjects (mathematics, English language, one science subject, a foreign language, one from history, geography, social studies and religious education).

Be aware of his/her career path.

Have a desire to continue reading and studying.

Be able to apply learning to everyday life and understand how he/she fits into the wider world.

Be able to use critical-thinking skills, to discuss, debate, reason, analyse and interpret.

Be skilled in the use of geometric instruments and give good estimates of measurements.

Use modern technology effectively and efficiently.

Read and write music, including rhythms and melodies.

Develop proper exercise habits and care for the body, maintaining good health and hygiene.

Develop an appreciation for other languages and cultures.

Use knowledge and skills to create employment.

Have a positive work attitude.

Work well with others.

Be open-minded, accept corrections readily and accept that there are various solutions to problems.

Develop a habit of punctuality and meeting deadlines.

Interact with wider society, demonstrating volunteerism and good citizenship.

Being a part of a team preparing for a competition provides characteristics in our students which this nation so desperately needs - hard work, dedication, commitment, team work, experiencing the joy of success, how to commiserate after a loss, and learning that everybody needs somebody sometime. We need to stop "fight down di yute".

Cynthia P Cooke is principal, Camperdown High School. Feedback may be sent to cookelp@cwjamaica.com or letters@gleanerjm.com.