Costly party for ath­letes

Jamaica Gleaner - - OPINION & COMMENTARY -

THE EDITOR, Sir:

THE HEROES Day week­end of is a great time to re­visit our her­itage, our heroes and our pri­or­i­ties. We are sure that we want to cel­e­brate the per­for­mance of our ath­letes, but it can­not be at a cost of $80 mil­lion when we are in a coun­try which is in­debted, when crime is soar­ing and the cost of liv­ing is ris­ing.

The schools at­tended by th­ese ath­letes have their own ma­jor prob­lems which are await­ing alumni sup­port, where avail­able. The ath­letes be­ing hon­oured are well on their way to earn­ing well and shar­ing with their coun­try.

We need to dis­cuss how we recog­nise the va­ri­ety of con­tri­bu­tions made to our coun­try in many dif­fer­ent fields. A coun­try re­quires a mul­ti­lay­ered ap­proach and we can­not pro­mote one area to the ex­clu­sion of oth­ers. I was dis­turbed to see that no Mus­grave Medals were go­ing to be given this year, and won­dered how that would af­fect the In­sti­tute of Ja­maica and its work.

In our very new cul­tural land­scape, par­tic­u­larly in the post-In­de­pen­dence pe­riod, we like to pro­mote in­di­vid­u­als and not in­sti­tu­tions. Yet it is in­sti­tu­tions that sur­vive long after the death of the founders. When McKin­ley and Wint were at Cal­abar, there was no track as there is to­day for Javon Fran­cis and young Weir and their suc­ces­sors to use. With­out the per­son G.C. Foster and the in­sti­tu­tion which is named after him, more than 3,000 coaches would not have been trained to un­earth and de­velop the tal­ent which abounds. An­cient so­ci­eties have cre­ated in­sti­tu­tions which will last for hun­dreds and thou­sands of years. We have great difficulty in sus­tain­ing in­sti­tu­tions after one gen­er­a­tion. A re­cent report iden­ti­fies the demise of sev­eral pri­vate schools in the face of the cur­rent eco­nomic sit­u­a­tion. This places greater pres­sure on an al­ready un­der­re­sourced pub­lic ed­u­ca­tional sys­tem.

Some of us will take loans to at­tend par­ties, and I know that peo­ple must have fun. There is a feel-good men­tal­ity which some­times threat­ens good sense. At best, our her­itage in­volves peo­ple mak­ing sac­ri­fices, some­times de­lay­ing grat­i­fi­ca­tion to achieve the ul­ti­mate goals of devel­op­ment. With all of the press­ing eco­nomic chal­lenges, the IMF pro­gramme and all of the mat­ters fac­ing the coun­try, we have to re­de­fine our pri­or­i­ties, cut our cloth to fit our re­sources and op­er­ate in a pru­dent man­ner. Re­mem­ber the grandmother with her bank rolled in a ker­chief in her bo­som. HI­LARY ROBERT­SON-HICK­LING MSBM UWI, MONA hi­lary.hick­ling@gmail.com

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