Student-athletes transfer dilemma in Jamaican high schools

As the debate rages on regarding the transfer of athletes in the high schools system for the sake of playing for a coach/team/school there are a number of issues which must be addressed.

  1. The transfer story is old – dating back to at least four decades
  2. It is not exclusive to Jamaica
  3. Parents are as much a part of the problem as is the recruiters
  4. The regulatory/monitoring bodies MUST be strengthened to ensure the goals of the education industry are met

The dynamics of education are changing, strange but true…no longer are children being ‘forced’ to pursue the traditional career paths, but instead go after lucrative career areas, much of which include study in the non-traditional areas, some of which are frowned upon. While the split in where the choices should go, continue, the system is moving ahead and as a result policy leaders should be aware of what these changes are and create an environment for as much of us to exist as possible. I will cite examples from the states of Georgia, Florida and California where a lot of these problems exist. They have the equivalent of what is in Jamaica – the Inter Secondary Schools Sports Association (ISSA) and they are in charge of monitoring what happens in the schools.

They monitor

  • students requests for transfer
  • schools from where the transfer is being sought
  • schools to which the transfer is required
  • grades of the students
  • general school records which may reveal behaviour
  • ability of parents to afford where applicable, or accommodate, sometimes in the case of relocation

I am of the firm belief that parents have a responsibility to the children and should not be forced to move their children from school to school while accepting gifts. In deciding to move a child, careful consideration should be given whether the move is an advantage to the child in the pursuit of higher education. By the way, higher education in this instance can also relate to going after dreams of being an athlete, famous dancer, soulful singer etc. If the school the child wishes to go to offers the best environment for the student to learn, then move. The move is to be done within the rules of the system. The state of Georgia got 6,000 such requests in the 2010 – 2011 season and 76 per cent of that list was granted. The regulatory team keeps watch. In Florida, the Florida High School Athletics Association is the body which monitors the requests. So too is the Southern Commission in California.

I say we boost the human resources of ISSA to help them with the work they have already started to ensure that the moves are above board and there is very little, if any, inappropriate behaviour by schools and/or coaches. Having identified that there is an issue, I say we move to resolve the issue soon and let’s look at the 2013 to 2014 season how we can enforce the rules established by ISSA. The history of dialogue and setting up of teams in Jamaica (Task Forces) to look at issues doesn’t have resolutions coming too quickly, but if we can ‘stamp out’ some of the known areas of activity where the transfers are blatant, then we would have been a few steps ahead. Parents have a right to offer their children the best option, but not for a fridge, stove, car or money.