This school term, the period January to the Easter holidays in April is traditionally dominated by track and field games. Often times more than one hundred sports meets are staged involving Pre-primary schools, primary schools, secondary schools, community groups and, of course, the major events organised by the Grenada Athletics Association to include Whitsuntide Games.
The industrial dispute between the government and the teachers in 2019 severely impacted track and field. Fewer than 50 sports meets were staged.
The government’s deduction from the salaries of teachers following their street protest over pension subsequently led to the teachers’ union instructing their members to work-to-rule, meaning that they would not engage in extracurricular activities.
The government thus far has ignored the teachers; but on January 6, their union, via a National Radio/TV address presented by Vice President Marvin Andall, reiterated the call to members to continue their work-to-rule protest, telling them to “Perform only the task/work that is documented during their working hours.”
Teachers are key to the staging of all activities in our schools. They mobilise resources, prepare the students to compete and are the ones managing the events as well as being among the trained officials officiating at the sport.
The reality, is without the maximum participation of the teachers, very little can be accomplished.
For the greater good, the government is urged to concede and refund the affected teachers the deductions made from their salaries. The people being hurt the most are the students. If 2020 is a repeat of the last 12 months, track and field will again be negatively impacted.
We urge the two parties, government and Teachers Union to find an amicable solution to their dispute, thus ensuring that all school sports are staged with maximum participation.
The premier schools events — the National Primary Schools Athletic Games and the Intercol were both cancelled last year, denying the best athletes of the respective schools a showdown contest and the enjoyment by thousands of spectators.
Yes the government staged a replacement “games” for Intercol and it did produce a handful of outstanding performances; but nowhere close to the traditional Intercol spectacle.
The Annual Intercol has a very rich history of maximum participation from all and sundry – and that ought to be rekindled in 2020.
Track and field, like all other sports, needs our student population. That’s where talents are identified and harnessed to represent Grenada in the respective age group tournaments.
The Anderson Peters gold medals won at the World Athletic Championship in Doha and the Pan American Games in Peru along with Lindon Victor’s silver in the decathlon at the Pan American have stimulated greater interest in track and field and we must capitalize on that.
In summary, we must do all that is possible to ensure sports at the school level continues to develop and blossom in 2020; but the key will be a settlement of the teachers/Government industrial dispute.