It is the dream of every parent that their child must do well in his or her educational pursuit. Even if the child is climbing in heights in the field of sports, most parents still want their child to have a minimum in educational achievement to help them through the rigour of challenges in life . Essentially there is a need for some balancing act between studies and sports giving both a chance to succeed by being weighted in approach wherever necessary.
I think it is with this wisdom that the Sports Schools were set up and if we look at Bukit Jalil Sports School's (BJSS) "Mission Statement", it provides a self explanatory outlook.
"MENYEDIAKAN PENDIDIKAN DAN LATIHAN SUKAN UNTUK MELAHIRKAN ATLET PELAJAR BERTARAF DUNIA".
Literal translation: "Prepare education and sports training for the birth of athletic students of world standard".
If we take this a step further and look at BJSS's "Vision Statement":
" SSBJ PENJANA ATLET BERTARAF DUNIA".
Literal translation: "SSBJ produces athlete of world standard"
Now we get to the "Objectives" of SJSS, one of which is:
"Memberi peluang kapada pelajar di Malaysia cemerlang dalam bidang sukan dan akademik".
Literal translation: "Provide opportunities for students in Malaysia who are excellent in the field of sports and education".
On paper we cannot dispute what has been enshrined for the existence of the Sports Schools. Very novel and noble ie to combine education and sports, thereby giving our students the opportunities to become world class sportspersons. The key point here is to develop world class sportspersons not world class academics. Having stated that, it does not in any way devalue the aspect of education in sports school. After all it is still a school with the national curriculum.
It is because of this that the classroom timetable is arranged in such a way that:
Monday, Tuesday & Thursday - 9.30am to 2.40pm & 8.30 to 9.50pm
Wednesday - 7.30am to 1.30pm & 8.30 to 9.50pm
Friday - 9.30am to 12.10pm
thereby giving the students the time for sports training in the mornings and evenings. This also allows the National Sports Associations (NSAs) to arrange their training programmes accordingly.
Again on paper, all these are well documented and in essence there should not be any problems. Things should move in a "clock work" manner based on the outlined principles. The only area that needs attention by the various NSAs and other related parties is to adopt to the standard operating procedures (SOPs) of the Sports Schools, when they need the students for national training.
This aspect is fundamental for the Administrators of the Sports Schools as they are the "guardians" of the students. The parents have entrusted the administrators and left their children in their care. Therefore there must be SOPs in the Sports Schools to get students to attend national training. NSAs must be aware of such SOPs and strictly adhere to them.
This brings me to the topic of the recent misunderstanding between the Sports Schools and the Project 2013 national hockey team under the "Pelapis Programme"of the Ministry of Youth & Sports (KBS) undertaken by the National Sports Council (NSC). My blog article titled "Is the Sports Schools right in recalling the players?" dated Thursday, 25th February, outlines in brief some of the pertinent matters.
Since then there has been a debate including some questioning the existence of the Sports Schools. Some think that it is no different from any ordinary school so why should students be in such schools. This argument stems from the fact that the Sports Schools recalled the Project 2013 players from national training. In fact there have been "slip ups" on the side of NSC on getting the paperwork promptly and timely to the Sports Schools. The point being the training commenced even without getting proper clearance for the Sports Schools players. The initial "knee jerk" reaction by Sports Schools to recall the players seems a justifiable action.
If the matter had ended there and the various paperwork was cleared in the worst case in 2 or 3 days, then there would not be a follow up article by me. The matter got "out of hand" when stories emerged from various quarters indicating that the players withdrew because of SPM classes. If that is right, the reason itself challenges the very existence of Sports Schools. All the novel and noble ideas laid down by the founding fathers of Sports Schools including its structures and schedules has been undermined by such a reason.
It is the re-arrangement of timetables and having the teachers with the students to assist the students and care for them, that would provide the students and their parents the trust that Sports Schools are providing that balance in education and sports. If you take away sports and just concentrate on studies, Sports Schools would not live up to its Mission, Vision and Objectives. Rightfully, it might as well be an ordinary school.
There is no need to re-examine the Sports Schools as the enshrined "Statements" are absolutely clear. In this instances ie relating to the Project 2013 hockey team, my opinion is that it is an issue of differences that could have been solved easily if parties "did not hold on to their guns", in trying to display each others strength. Strangely, people have been advocating various equations including that the Sports Schools should come under the NSC. All these are "day dreaming" mental exercises of "empire building", which would only go to destroy the good work of the past and present people. As it is, all the parties involved are supposed to work for the betterment of sports but this saga goes to show that sports was the ultimate loser and in this case it was hockey. The point i am making is that if we follow the policies that have been laid down and adopt the SOPs, i think life would be simpler and we all can concentrate on developing world class sportspersons, not world class "trouble makers". This is what we are all here for.