Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Vaithilingam v Mazlan;col1

Article written by Datuk Wira Mazlan Ahmad.

1Student 1Sport. To be precise, one student participating in at least one sport. The spirit behind this policy is not new. It was there lying among numerous policy documents in the Ministry of Education. So it is wrong to say Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, as the new education minister, had introduced a new policy to be implemented at schools above so many other policies that come together with every new minister.

1Student 1Sport is a policy restating the fact that sport should be implemented in schools as it should be. As we know sports was unconsciously put aside as a result of over emphasis in academic achievement. Don't get me wrong. Every parent wants their children to garner as many A's as possible in their examination in order to obtain a scholarship or to pursue tertiary education of their preferred choice.

That's fine. But to rob the classes of physical education and replace them with other examination subject is neither fair nor justified, especially in the early part of the year. It is also equally wrong if PE classes are shared with the intention of lessening the burden among teachers.

I was fortunate to be privy to a cabinet committee report on education published in 1979. Among its recommendation was to encourage the sport activities in school, district, state and national levels to enhance unity among students of various races.

The report also observed that not all students in schools participated in sport and schools did not organise sports activities that encourage or allow bigger participation. This report was written 30 years ago. Can we see much difference now?

Participation in Malaysian Games (SUKMA) based on ethnicity did not reflect the wish of the report. Malay athletes represent 59.02 percent (2004), 62.85 percent (2006) and 64.60 percent (2008). Chinese athletes represent 29.54 percent (2004), 24.96 (2006) and 21.99 (2008). Indian athletes represent 6.46 percent (2004), 5.50 (2006) and 7.54 (2008) while others represent 4.98 (2004), 6.69 (2006) and 5.83 (2008). Unfortunately, I have no figures for school athletes competing in national MSSM competitions.

The announcement of 1Student 1Sport by the education minister early this year, to me, is to implement the recommendation of the said report albeit, 30 years later. Logically implementing the recommendation of a 30-year-old report should or can be done immediately. The report recommended sports activities in schools be enhanced. Unfortunately, during the last 30 years many school fields fell victim to the construction of new buildings or computer labs or new classrooms.

This was obvious in cities like Kuala Lumpur as reported by the New Straits Times on April 4, 2010. I don't know why schools did not organise sports activities as recommended by the report, but now I know. An initial survey conducted by the sports division of the ministry of education found that over 80 percent of the schools were prepared to carry out this policy. The remaining 20 were not ready because of lack of sports facilities or trained teachers or both.

Can we say this 1Student 1Sport policy was drawn without detailed studies? You can say so, but how much study do we need to implement a policy which was already part of the overall education policy? Let's say over 80 percent of the schools are ready to implement it next year. Do we have to bother ourselves with the remaining 20 percent? Logically, we should go ahead with the 80 percent and deal with the remaining 20 separately at the same time.

There are 10,000 schools which cater to 5.4 million students in this country. Why deprive 8,000 schools and 4.3 million students who can participate in at least one sport throughout their schooling life, if not more, while addressing the problem of the remaining ones.

Maybe not many of these students aspire to be Olympians but only to participate and to have an intimate knowledge of the sport or the game contributes to the culture of sports. Everybody likes to play football even though some of them do not possess the skill to do so. Participation in games will give them a lot of experience as opposed to sitting idle or playing computer games.

To me the biggest challenge in implementing the 1Student 1Sport policy is not the lack of facilities but to change the mindset of people involved - teachers, principals, headmasters, education officials at district and state education offices. Above all it's the mindset of parents who believe time taken by the children on the field is wasted and will jeopardise their tuition classes.

We cannot stop parents from sending their children for tuition nor can we stop teachers from teaching tuition classes. We cannot force school bus drivers to extend their time to accommodate students who partake in sport after school hours. We cannot build playing fields or indoor halls overnight, neither can we convert all schools into single session schools overnight. So, 1Student 1Sport must be implemented within these constraints. Gradually, problems will be solved and every healthy student should be able to participate in at least one sport.

Ideally this policy should have started in 1980 - one year after the report was published in 1979. It did not happen that way. Nevertheless it will begin in 2011 - 31 years later.

We need this 1Student 1Sport policy. Or must we wait for another cabinet committee report 30 years from today before we take affirmative action?

Letter written by Datuk A. Vaithilingam

One student one sport: Study ways to carry out scheme effectively



WITH reference to the report "School sports rot" (New Sunday Times, April 4), I am not in the least surprised at the findings of your journalists.

One only has to take a drive around the schools and if ever there is a field, we will find that it is not used in the morning, afternoon or evening.

Occasionally, a teacher is found standing in a corner while students are made to run around.

In some large schools, there may be four to five classes scheduled for Physical Education in their timetable at a particular time, but you will hardly find anyone on the field.

Few schools have halls with facilities for indoor sports, but even these are normally locked for security reasons!

Your journalists have exposed the reason why the country is lacking in sports talents. This is due to the neglect of the schools and authorities in providing opportunities to the students to nurture their talents.

The recent announcement by Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, in his capacity as education minister, that there would be a minimum allocation of between 60 and 90 minutes for sports during school hours from next year is a good proposal but it is riddled with obstacles all the way.

On paper, the suggestion seems easy to implement. But, as a former Malaysian Schools Sports Council official, I know there are many factors to be considered.

They include the attitude of both parents and teachers; the desire for academic achievements over and above sporting excellence; the lack of sporting competition within schools to enable sports selectors to tap new talent; the role of the media in highlighting sporting events at schools and successful sporting students; logistical problems and so on.

Normally, parents will have fewer complaints about activities held within school hours. As it is, the school timetable these days is packed, with different lessons to be completed in 30 minutes each.

Therefore, it is necessary for the prime minister to set up a special committee presided by the education minister. This committee must be tasked with carrying out a thorough study of the problem and developing effective and workable ways to implement the proposed "One Student One Sport" scheme.

There should be a long-term project to convert all schools to one-session schools with longer hours, probably from 8am to 3pm so that more time can be allocated for effective teaching of not just academic subjects but sporting activities as well.

The next Malaysia Plan should make sufficient provisions for upgrading of facilities, including equipment, and providing trained teachers and coaches in every single school.


Anonymous said...

All people should laud the recent announcement of 1 Student 1 Sport... BUT unfortunately I dun think the Education Ministry are interested to work with any Sports Associations whether they be from NSA or SSA. As it now they hardly consult them in regards to conducting sporting events in the schools. Maybe sports are really going down the dumps as like everything else in Malaysia!

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