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Solutions and the way forward regarding: ‘Ugly sporting truths’

6 September 2021 09:34 am - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}



With reference to the article of July 27, 2021, as titled above I reiterate the following, for the purpose of clarity. 
A group of parents from a leading school approached Avanka Lanka Foundation in response to the article highlighting ‘Cruelty to Children’ (published on May 3, 2021). The contents of July 27, 2021 article was based on correspondence with these parents and Avanka Lanka Foundation published the article as it was found that unchecked abuse of children is the core issue.

An important focus of the Innocence Lost column is to highlight the injustice, exploitation and the mental trauma children undergo. While the malpractices in the school system were exposed in the last article, I wish to offer sustainable solutions in this article because the intention is not only to highlight problems to but offer both practical and sustainable solutions. 

The suggestions include the proposing of broad reaching legislation be enacted to prevent mental trauma, harassment and exploitation of Mother Lanka’s children, the establishing of transparent eligibility criteria when granting Sports Scholarships and guaranteeing the provision of compulsory academic and soft-skill enhancement for new recruits.

A) Legislation:

Trust is an abstract mental attitude toward a proposition that someone is dependable. Children engaged in sports trust their coaches implicitly to guide them toward the goal to become the best for the school. Children never ever question a coach as they believe that the coach is always right. Emotional abuse or psychological harm occurs where the behavior of the coach damages the confidence and self-esteem of the young person, resulting in serious emotional disturbance or psychological trauma. I wish to draw your attention to the circular issued by the Ministry of Education on the matter of obtaining services of Sports Officials dated June 30, 2009 (bearing ref # ED/15/2/3/5). The matter is made reference to again vide letter dated March 6, 2014 (bearing ref # ED/1/15/2/1/gen) and in letter dated January 25, 2021 (bearing ref #ED/9/15/2/3/6). According to the above circulars, the school authorities bear full responsibility when engaging the services of sports officials and are accountable for any actions taken by the said officials, even if the individuals are paid by third parties. 
  We recommend the Ministry of Education to issue circulars periodically, reiterating the above responsibility and also stressing that it is the duty of the school authorities to intervene, inquire and rectify matters when complaints are made.

B) Entry criteria for granting sports scholarships:

It is fully agreed that sports scholarships do enrich the level of sports in schools with the introduction of new talent which in turn makes the existing players to “up their game”.In order to mediocre sportsmen being granted entry by trouble makers and parties with vested interests manipulating the system; Avanka Lanka Foundation suggests establishing transparent criteria for granting of sports scholarships. This will ensure that only children from less privileged schools that possess a statistically proven track record pertaining to the relevant sport.

Academic competence should also be given high priority and we suggest the following; 
1. For students who show potential in sports one point of entry can be for those who successfully pass the Grade 5 scholarship examination. 
2. A second point of entry can be granted to students who have certain level of competence based on ‘above average results’ obtained at the GCE Ordinary level examination such as students who have obtained 5 “A” passes. (It is noted that there are certain schools which have implemented the above and are reaping the benefits.)

C). Establishing a quota system for granting of sports scholarships: 

Sports Scholarships must be limited to 20% or even 30% of the Senior Team/Pool. This will create and maintain a healthy balance of both new and existing talent. The relevant authorities must strictly enforce this as a rule.

D). Safeguarding all-round the future prospects of sports scholarship recipients: 

Schools that recruit children should be mandated by the Ministry of Education that the newly recruited students be assessed by the teachers with a view to making them well-rounded students, acquainting them with the ethos, values and traditions of the school and equipping them to be on par with their current students e.g. provide additional tuition including spoken English, Business English etc., whereby, when the child leaves the school, both he, the school and the Ministry of Education are confident that a well rounded individual has entered society. Failure to make such an investment will cause these children to fail to secure decent jobs owing to having abysmal academic qualifications (often not passing the A/L examinations), poor linguistic skills, and very low self-esteem and confidence.

Additionally, a contract should be undertaken by the school authorities, assuring the parents of recruited students of the safety of the children, which should have a medical and life insurance policy clause; with the view of safeguarding the welfare of the students’ health while in school and career preparedness for the future.

To our readers who maybe naysayers, we kindly ask that you consider the following, 

  • Children are our country’s future. Nurturing them to be healthy in mind body and soul is our primary responsibility, as adults.
  • The problems highlighted may have been on-going in numerous schools for decades yet time doesn’t justify the continuation of the status quo. Hundreds of  children have gone through such abuse and some may have (thankfully) come out of it unscathed, but even such rare occurrences are pitiful reasons to condone the continuation of harassment and abuse.
  • Let’s refrain negating the pain of parents whose children have been subject to harassment and abuse, with pithy platitudes such as “boys should be boys”; knowing very well that the occurrences are unjustifiable.
  • Let’s not make lame excuses to cover up the faults of egoistic heads of schools, coaches and old boys whereby allowing our children to grow into damaged adults.

We humbly implore that readers check the following link to further educate yourselves on the effect this kind of abuse can have on our children; the future of Mother Lanka.

We appeal to parents whose children are currently going through any form of harassment in school, to join AVANKA LANKA FOUNDATION to put an end to this menace.
We are also in the process of setting up a network of diverse stakeholders in each district who are committed to stand against the abuse of women and children of Mother Lanka and invite activists, other interested parties and likeminded people to join these proposed district networks and help the cause. 


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