The ruling New National Party (NNP) government of Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell is moving quickly to put plans in place to stage its own version of Intercol for the nation’s secondary school.
Education Minister, Emmalin Pierre unveiled the plans one day after the Principals Association announced the cancellation of the 2019 Intercol in light of the ongoing impasse with government on pension and gratuity payment.
Speaking at Tuesday’s post-Cabinet press briefing, Minister Pierre disclosed that in light of the cancellation of the annual intercollegiate games by the Grenada Association of Principals of Secondary Schools, the government will host a Secondary Schools Games in its place.
The female government minister said that the students should not be negatively affected by what goes on between the government and the union at the moment.
“I do not believe that as government, I don’t believe as individuals, we can sit here in 2019 and assume what the industrial climate is going to be in 2020, 2025, 2030 or anytime beyond.
As a result, because of the importance of these games, because as a government, we don’t believe that having a national school games should be dependent on the industrial climate of the country at any time (so) government has taken a decision, that in March 2019, there will be a Grenada Secondary School games,” she said.
According to Minister Pierre, these games will be two fold – one at the zonal level and another at the national level involving outstanding students.
“These games would take, what I would say two layers of activities at the zonal level, so you will have the zonal games and we will have the national games. So the secondary schools will have the opportunity to compete at the local level, meaning within the zone at the parish level and then at the national level,” she said.
The senior government minister stated that the government has the means and the structure in place through the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Sports to run the sports meet.
She mentioned personnel within the Ministry of Sports and employed coaches and Physical Education Teachers through the Ministry of Education set up as some of the manpower that can be utilized to make the Secondary School Games a success.
“The Ministry of Sports does have over 40 Sports officers within the Ministry. This government has made it its duty to ensure that we would have appointed and confirmed several Physical Education teachers and coaches around the island in all of our secondary schools because of the value we place on our school, because of the importance of sports in the allround development of our children.
“…As a government, we are going to work with our principals, our teachers, the Grenada Athletic Association, Grenada Olympic Association, the Ministry of Sports and all others…throughout Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique who have an interest in the holistic development of our children to ensure that these games are extremely successful and that our children do not miss any opportunity.
The Education Minister noted that based on the appointment letters given to teachers that they do have an obligation to perform extra-curricular activities in relation to the job.
She said: “…Appointment letter of teachers which speak to the stipulated conditions under which teachers are appointed and I wish therefore to refer to item F, which says the following are the stipulations for your appointment…to perform any additional duties including extra-curricular activities, which may from time to time be assigned by the Principal or any Education official.”
Minister Pierre stopped short of stating whether the government which controls all 15 seats in the nation’s Parliament will take further action against teachers who withhold their labour for the staging of the planned games.
She stressed that the Secondary School Games would give students an opportunity to be recognised by international scouts as would normally be the case during the hosting of the annual Intercol.
“I have received communication from students, I have received calls from students including students who went back for second year in the secondary school system praying and hoping that this year Intercol would have been their breakthrough, that this would have been their chance to shine and to be selected – we cannot disappoint persons like that”, she told reporters.
“…To not provide these students with that opportunity to me is denying ordinary poor children of society an opportunity to pull their families out of poverty. It’s to deny them an opportunity to lift themselves up and indeed denying them that opportunity to have a chance to succeed in life,” she said.
Minister Pierre disclosed that the games will be spearheaded by Kerlon Peters of the Ministry of Sports and Jerry Alexis in the Ministry of Education and that a press conference will be held shortly to officially launch the games and to give the date.
In relation to the hosting of the Primary School Games, a release from the Grenada Union of Teachers (GUT) on Tuesday stated that this event has also been cancelled, while at the same time stating that there will be “NO sports held in the various parishes” this year.
THE NEW TODAY newspaper called a number of secondary schools across the island on Monday to find out if they will be having their own individual sports this year and most confirmed that they would not be holding any school sports, while others stated that they are unsure as to what lies ahead.
However, Minister Pierre said that there is no reason why individual primary school sports should not be held in 2019.
“We are saying to the principals that they must have their sports meet. If the concern is operating after the prescribed hours as contained in the act, we can start sports at 8.00 a.m. and finish at 3.00 p.m. Let us give the student the opportunity”, she remarked.