TEACHER'S MIND : It’s crucial for schools to invest in Sports

IT has been mentioned since time immemorial that work without play makes Jack (and anyone else) a dull boy (or person). The caveat here is that this is not a sports page. The presence of the word sports only serves to remind you that there is indeed more to learn outside class but inside school. On Monday, 08 March 2010, The New Times carried a story about the launch of an Olympic-size swimming pool for Groupe Scolaire Officiel de Butare by the Governor of the Southern Province, Fidele Ndayisaba.

IT has been mentioned since time immemorial that work without play makes Jack (and anyone else) a dull boy (or person). The caveat here is that this is not a sports page. The presence of the word sports only serves to remind you that there is indeed more to learn outside class but inside school.

On Monday, 08 March 2010, The New Times carried a story about the launch of an Olympic-size swimming pool for Groupe Scolaire Officiel de Butare by the Governor of the Southern Province, Fidele Ndayisaba.

The fact that the facility was donated by President Paul Kagame further buttressed his remarkable leadership abilities. He certainly understands the significance of sports in building a holistic educational environment.

G.S.O Butare has etched itself in the public mindset as a school of consistent excellence when it comes to academics. With a swimming pool as part of their infrastructure I am sure the school will not only be producing future doctors for Rwanda but also Olympic swimmers. 

One thing we all ought to accept is that the poor state of schools in any country has a huge bearing on the general outlook of a country. Sociologists have argued for years that a country cannot be more developed than its education system.

We can modify that to accommodate sports. I strongly believe that sports excellence in Rwanda will be hard to achieve if it is neglected at the school level. With poor sports facilities in schools we should not wonder so much why sometimes the Football Association, for instance, relies on foreigners. 

Sometime last year, I wrote an opinion for the sports pages of this paper. I pointed out that the success of Jamaican sprinters was largely a result of a well developed sports programme at the school level.

It is not secret that sports facilities are scarce and in some cases totally nonexistent in our schools. Also, the topography of this country has not made things easy to set up these facilities.

Students need recreation facilities in order to cool off from the pressures of classroom work. Where these facilities are absent, student’s talents are nipped in the bud at a crucial stage. More so, students who may not fair well academically need to indulge in sports in order to make their time in school worthwhile.

Setting up sports facilities is really an expensive undertaking that may not be possible without pulling an external hand. The swimming pool at G.S.O Butare cost a hefty Rwf55m.

Apart from high-end private schools like Riviera High School, it would amount to day dreaming to expect most schools in Rwanda to have such an amount of money set aside ostensibly for the construction of a swimming pool.

For this reason, schools can seek assistance from the corporate world, old students and the government in order to get such facilities in place. For example, a school can mobilise some funds for the construction of a football pitch and seek assistance from the Ministry of Sports to acquire earth-moving machines to do the flattening job.

Indeed the Sports Ministry should have a schools’ development programme in order to boost sports in the country by tapping into the raw talent abounding in schools.

Every child would love to study in a school that not only offers student’s the opportunity to become engineers but also, a striker in an international football league or a professional sportsman/woman.

Our president has set the pace and I hope big companies like Bralirwa, KCB, Nakumatt, Ecobank, MTN, Tigo, Rwandatel and others can take cue.

Would it not be nice if for instance, these companies helped schools around the country by constructing decent basketball courts? I am told it is called Corporate Social Responsibility!

ssenyonga@gmail.com

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