The hand-wringing and moaning of past students and friends of Calabar High School after the video of students of the school (as well as an adult who appeared to be conducting the “choir”), chanting anti-KC lyrics, smacks of the highest form of hypocrisy known to man.
Anyone with six months of experience of dealing with school children would have known that the “defence” of the track team, who were accused by master Physics teacher Shaw of assault and blatant disrespect in the “Mattress Gate Affair”, would only encourage the type of behaviour displayed in the video from school assembly at Calabar last Monday morning (April 1 2019).
Children live what they learn. How many times must that truism be repeated for it to sink into the psyche of those responsible for the care and education of our children? I fully expect there to be “excuses”, downright falsehoods, and “mitigating circumstances” to be uttered by spin doctors who want to salvage some inkling of respect after the latest display of crass behaviour of children who are taught that winning at sports is more important than winning at book work.
Some years ago, respected school football icon and chemistry genius Lascelve “Muggy” Graham, began a campaign with a few friends, to alert Jamaican educators to the folly of “buying” children with athletic ability from “less-known schools” to “big-name schools” for the sole purpose of winning. Muggy met with past students, teachers, ministry officials, businessmen, ordinary Jamaicans, sport icons, etc with very little traction or support in trying to stop the practice.
Leaders of the Inter-Secondary Schools Sport Association (ISSA) pooh-poohed his entreaties and it is only after the support of the Minster of Education at the time (Rev Ronnie Thwaites) that ISSA started to make changes and implement obstacles to the dastardly and foolish practice of inducing (with cash and kind) the parents and influential relatives of talented athletes in many different sports to switch to another school for the sole purpose of WINNING!
The cursing and opprobrium heaped upon the head of this Jamaican hero was simply appalling, and yet he never gave up trying. It is only now that I get the impression that “Big people” in education have begun to “smell the coffee”. The saying that we have to reach rock bottom before we can begin to climb upward is now revealed in all its glory as most of us Jamaicans scramble to rescue our children at play, from school leaders who have been revealed in all their glory as unfit for the position of trust that they hold.
I am not here talking only about heads of schools boards, head teachers and influential past students. I am including coaches and “interested old boys” who are the phantoms in this fiasco. I am hoping that we Jamaicans now realise that suspensions and resignations are simply not enough punishment for those found guilty of “high crimes and misdemeanours” but the possibility of serious jail time and financial ruin (via meaningful fines) must now come into the picture of how to lance this boil.
Leadership in our country is a calling that should not only be thrust upon the popular. Leadership is something that manifests itself from a very early time in the life of a man or woman. I truly believe that leaders are born and not created. Let us use the holy time of Easter to reflect on the calibre of our present leaders in all spheres of life, and identify and promote those with the qualities that scream: “Statesman /Stateswoman”, one who lives an exemplary life and one who makes decisions for the well-being of those who are led, and not the well-being of those who put him/her there in the position or their friends, their family or those who they fear. There is simply no other way. We MUST rescue our children.