I wonder why it has taken the Ministry of Education this long to realise that sports is a vital part of the school curriculum, and that inter-house and inter-school sporting competitions are one of the most effective ways of fostering goodwill and healthy interaction among the young.

The announcement by the Director General of Education Tan Sri Alimuddin Mohd Dom to return school sports to its original glory is long overdue. The halcyon days of school sports in the 50s right through the 70s were rudely interrupted by a number of  policies and programmes which promised to promote integration in schools but failed dismally. It is high time the Minister of Education and his team agree that what worked in the past is good enough for the present. Something as basic as sports and games which inspire  healthy rivalry among schoolchildren and loyalty to their teams and schools is an area of education that needs to be revived. For a whole generation this was dumped in the pursuit of superficial book knowledge and flimsy paper qualifications which pigeon-holed the minds and hearts of young Malaysians.

What has been announced as the grandoise plan of the Ministry to make sports compulsory in 10,000 national schools and for each student to choose a game is hardly innovative. The promise that specially qualified teachers will focus on sports is not a new idea at all. The idea of having a school sports day which involves the local community is what was implemented so successfully in the 60s. Each student was assigned to a “house” known by name and colour e.g St Patrick’s House (green) and developed their sporting skills under the guidance of dedicated house teachers. One afternoon in the week was assigned to each house. House parties were held to celebrate individual and team achievements.

In fact what was really outstanding then was the inter-school sports day when supporters turned up in full force to cheer their friends and teams on. The atmosphere was carnival-like and the joy electric and eclectic as students and their teachers moved around in the colourfully decorated local sports field. Food and drink were freely served from contributions by sponsors and the students themselves. Gleaming medals and cups were won to be proudly displayed in the school cabinets and at home. Minds and hearts were focused on the sporting rivalry and the friendly interaction and integration it inspired.

The Ministry’s efforts, albeit a generation late, must be supported!


2 Responses to “”

  1. 1 amanshahkhalid
    February 24, 2010 at 8:32 am

    This is the biggest setback when Ministers make decisions without really knowing the needs of the people. A new person at the helm feels that he knows best, not realising that he knows next to nothing! New policies are implemented because as a new man at the helm he has to show to the rakyat he is ‘working’! Everybody on this planet knows that sports has been and will be one of the most effective ways of fostering goodwill and cooperation not only among the students but among the rakyat. Sports has a long lasting bond even after they are retirees. Being very active in games during my schooldays throughout my adult life, I realised that sports has the bonding effect between students and students, students and teachers, and between the schools and the surrounding community. Besides that sports developed competitiveness, confidence, resilience, intelligence, skills, alertness and a healthy way of life. Academic achievements without doubt is still the number 1 objective of every student and sports should come a very close number 2 in their lives. I understand there is a small percentage of students in every school that do not take interest in sports but that does not justify for the Ministry of Education to neglect sports and reduce its budget. On the global scene sportsmen and women are being recognised and are celebrities in their own rights besides being very well rewarded for their skills! So back to the drawing board by the Ministry of Education to promote sports (back) to the past glories of the 50s, 60s and 70s. I am glad at last a ‘Prince’ had arrived and given the Ministry of Education a ‘kiss’ of life and awakened the ‘sleeping beauty’ from her almost 30 years sleep. Good luck!

  2. 2 ninitalk
    February 24, 2010 at 10:06 am

    Very nicely said amanshahkhalid!

    Your point about the development of confidence, resilience, intelligence and alertness is absolutely true and invaluable in an individual’s lifetime. And to achieve this early in life will help tremendously in moulding the adult personality and character.

    Some students are natural athletes and sportsmen who excel and take their game/ sport to great heights. I was in Sixth Form with P Gunalan who was an excellent student and head prefect of KGV Seremban. He later moved on to play badminton nationally and internationally and to lead BAM for many years. A year earlier Hood Salleh (now Professor Emeritus in UKM) was top student, head prefect and an excellent rugby player. He moved on to play squash at club and national levels and has led the national squash movement.

    For those of us who were mediocre sports and games still provided that avenue for a wholesome and complete education. And clean fun and friendship. We never thought of it in terms of national integration!

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