Sports

Small defends minimum academic requirement for students wishing to participate in sports

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

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MONTEGO BAY, St James — Outgoing president of the Inter-Secondary Schools Sports Association (ISSA) Dr Walton has defended the controversial minimum academic requirement for students to participate in sporting competitions run by the body made up of school principals.

In one of his final appearances as president at the recent awards ceremony of the ISSA Western Conference basketball season held at the Montego Bay Cricket Club, Small said they had maintained the standard to give as many students a chance to participate in sports in high school.

Small said ISSA was well aware that “the playing field was not level” and some schools were better able to get their students to perform at a higher level than others.

At present, students in high school are required to have a minimum 45 per cent in any four subjects to be eligible to take part in sports, along with an 80 per cent attendance record.

Ever since it was instituted over three decades ago, the minimum standard has attracted criticism from both sides; some argue that 45 per cent in four subjects was not high enough and could lead to abuses by some schools, while others have argued that having a standard in place victimised some students, who while gifted at sports, were not academically inclined.

“Sports can take you so far, but its extremely important that the school work is balanced, there must be a balance between the school work and sports,” Small said.

“At ISSA we are aware that not all students come to the table with the same level of competence, because the playing field is not level, we are aware that some schools are more resourced than others and therefore some of you will come into the system at a disadvantage and that is why we have kept the 45 percent qualifying mark to qualify for ISSA sport so as to encompass every one,” Small said.

The outgoing Wolmers Boys School principal pointed out the concerns about the perceived low standard of the academic qualifying mark and calls for it to be raised.

“We believe that if we do that we are going to exclude a number of students who come into the school system at a disadvantage and therefore we want to give them a fair chance of qualifying to participate in ISSA sports,” he noted.

“That said, we should not be satisfied with getting just 45 per cent, for example at Wolmer's even though the ISSA mark is 45 per cent, our pass mark at Wolmers is 60 per cent. Why do we say that, we know they came to that institution as fortunate students, so the expectations for them is even greater,” Small said.

“I am saying to you even though the mark is 45 per cent, to include everyone and not exclude anyone at all, I am suggesting to you that you work as hard as possible not to be satisfied with 45 percent but much better than that,” he ended.


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