Well, it’s Education and Sports since these disciplines are wedded under one Ministry. But, hey, writers can be sports fans too plus I thought there were some points that could be made re the literary arts and culture as a whole, so I thought there’d be much of interest worth sharing here. I found particularly interesting…
- The info on the National Sports Award…always a pleasure to see people striving in their fields…and little as it’s known I do follow quite a few sports locally and internationally…still not big on cricket and football, though, sorry; don’t hate, to each his own.
- The Minister’s visit to the Public Library and his charge to the library staff to: “maintain a high level of professionalism and view their service to the public as a very important one.” I’m hoping that they’re getting the resources and support needed to measure up to that standard but as the library remains cramped upstairs a Market Street store nearly 40 years after the original library on High Street was destroyed by earthquake then demolished altogether in the 1990s, I’m not as optimistic as I perhaps should be. A bit of trivia: one of my high school summer jobs was working under Chief Librarian Phyllis Mayers in that library upstairs the Market Street store front. They do a lot, against the odds.
- The article on the acting Education Minister’s discussion with the Curriculum unit on: “what it means to be an Antiguan and Barbudan and how this sense of identity can [be] further communicated to citizens through the education curriculum” in which it was said that “while the National Education Curriculum does provide for the integration of cultural heritage, customs and life styles into a student’s everyday learning experience, more must be done by not only teachers but parents to make it a way of life for children in the classroom and home environments respectively” and suggested that “the message could be amplified, including the establishment of an Education for Cultural Identity Policy, the strengthening of the visual and performing arts to include the creation of culturally based school competitions with local music and food themes, the regular staging of exhibitions of local arts, crafts and foods in easily accessible places, the reintroduction of theatre at the community level and continued education and training of key stakeholders on the importance of maintaining our national tangible and intangible cultural heritage.” That this suggestion positions the art as a priority is something I, Wadadli Pen, and so many of the artistes and activists have been shouting into the wilderness for a lifetime. Will we see the kind of investment in and prioritizing of the arts that will turn this talk into action? Will we see a cultural policy – not solely one that speaks to education – but every aspect of our lives? That’s something else we’ve been clamouring for for years. Ah well, we live and dream.
- The article on a grant writing workshop, which mentioned: “As part of the Ministry of Sports’ 2013 Year of Sports activities, the National Institute of Sports is partnering with the Antigua Barbuda Coalition of Services Industries (ABCSI) to build capacity of its key stakeholders through training in writing proposals to seek grant funding for projects in the business of sports and recreation.” I think this is applaudable. I would like to add that creating a data base of available grants and prompting and assisting stakeholders to access them would be a natural next step. Too many opportunities are missed through lack of awareness and effort. This applies to the creative arts as well. I make a second job of trolling the internet for all kinds of opportunities in the literary arts, culture and creative arts. I go for some, I share what I can…I’ve written grant proposals with mixed results…I’m very proactive on this point…I don’t have a choice as I’m a living working hustling striving writer who also happens to run a non profit programme but admit that funding when it comes to both Wadadli Pen and my own writing life is an area I could use a lot of help in…and I’m happy to see Sports doing for athletes what Culture hasn’t yet seemed inclined to do for us (and I suppose I mean especially the literary arts here since we do see more effort in other areas), assist in accessing opportunities to help us and our art thrive and our programmes grow.
- The article attesting to the Minister’s engagement with the media: “The Senator appeared on the Good Morning Joe Joe show on Radio Observer to share on sports related issues and on the Good Morning Antigua and Barbuda and Media Round Table with host Mickel Brann to respond to questions on key areas including the Universal Secondary Education Initiative.” As a media person who knows it can be like pulling teeth to get this kind of engagement on topical issues, never mind the Freedom of Information Act, I applaud this moves as well; and hope that it will be ongoing.
- Then there was a picture of the Education Chief under a headline about the first six grade national assessment leading up to the implementation of the Universal Secondary Education. I know from my own interaction with her that the Chief is convinced that this programme, which removes barriers to secondary education based on ability as decided by a win-or-go-home Common Entrance exam, will not only proceed this September as planned but that it must. I’m for the USE but…I can’t decide though if the Chief is being naïve about the growing pains it’s going to face and the potential for failure given the existing resource challenges in the system and public and education stakeholders who are not fully behind the initiative and with whom the Ministry has had communication breakdowns as recently as earlier this year when the teachers withheld service due to late payment, or if I’m being overly pessimistic. Time will tell.
All in all, interesting reading and important reading if we want to stay plugged in with what’s happening in education in our country, so kudos to the publishers for that even if the issue is heavy on the Minister’s activities and short on gender and youth information though we know there’s much to report in gender and youth and the publication is the umbrella publication for the Ministry of Education, Sports, Youth and Gender Affairs; and even it is now June 18th and I’m only now getting around to reading the June 12th issue. Better late than never, right?
Read the whole issue here: Education Sports NEWS ROUND UP VOL 1 ISSUE 4
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