“I can tell you from my own limited personal experience that there is no disconnect between the playing field and the classroom; the playing field can reinforce the classroom.”

This assertion was made yesterday by Minister of Education, Dr. Rupert Roopnaraine, when he addressed the Ministry of Education’s 20th National Award ceremony at the National Cultural Centre.
The Minister spoke of the need to recognise not only the importance of sports but also music in the school system. He said, “We must restore music in the schools, have choirs in the schools so that children are singing and playing sports in addition to their academic work.”news 20161022 4

Minister Roopnaraine pointed out that it has long been proven that extra-curricular activities, including out-door activities should be complementary to academic pursuits and thereby result in positive outcomes.
In extending “heartfelt” congratulations to the awardees yesterday, the Minister asserted, “I have no doubt that you have earned these awards through your commitment and dedication in pursuit of academic excellence.”
But even as he recognised their hard work and success, the Minister said, “I feel a sense of guilt in that I am not yet assured that our education system has afforded you the opportunity to excel as rounded persons as much as it has afforded you the opportunities to excel in the sphere of academia.”
He continued by sharing his reservations about the capability of the education system to infuse in students the sense of nationalism and patriotism. “We are therefore urged to think about this particular issue.
“After spending its widow’s mite on you, this nation looks to you for some returns rather than see its investment converted into a subsidy for some other place that makes no such direct or I daresay even indirect contribution to your education,” the Education Minister told the awardees.

He, however, emphasised that the onus is on the education system to offer students a rounded education and not churn out one-dimensional citizens. This exhortation, the Minister said, comes at a time when the Ministry has embarked on a curriculum review process that provides an ample opportunity for the aforementioned issue to be addressed.news 20161022 2
The Minister noted that since “these awards are all about academia, I am disappointed that in addition to the academic awards there are no awards for the non-academic or hybrid aspects to students’ performance, that I believe is an indictment of the system if it purports to aim at the all-round development of our products.”
As such the Minister described the ceremony yesterday as a “bitter sweet day.”
“I bask in your achievements but bemoan the limitations of what we have offered you,” said the Minister as he recognised the strain that the system is subjected to when it seeks to provide situations whereby students can write in excess of 20 subjects.
The result of such a state of affairs, he said, is not only less time for extra-curricular activities but less time for core subjects and a greater need for extra lessons to supplement the work done in schools. The Minister also observed that extra lessons could have further daunting developments. He was at the time alluding to the fact that some extra lessons commence as early as 05:00 hours and end as late as 22:00 hours. “What manner of person emerges from such lop-sided exposures?” questioned the Minister.
He, moreover, urged the awardees to pursue all-round development instead of mere academic development even as he expressed confidence that this course of action will bring them more joyous and arduous achievements.
The Education Minister’s views were supported by Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo, who performed the duties of President, and delivered the feature address at the award ceremony. While emphasising the importance of science, technology and mathematics, Prime Miniser Nagamootoo stressed the need to have an inclusive and rounded education.
“I fully endorse the Minister of Education when he said that he would like to see music being taught in all our schools. We should have children being taught national songs, patriotic songs. We are nothing without a conviction of love of our country…it is our country that moulds and bring us up into citizens of work in the world and therefore it is our music, it is the sports that is introduced into the school that give you time off from concentrated studies that add to your character,” Nagamootoo added.