There is an irony in commercial organizations making investments in the promotion of sports when too many players are educationally challenged

Dear Editor,

The freedoms enshrined in our various laws and statutes, somehow do not allow most of us to access information concerning the range of developmental initiatives agreed with donor agencies, and the ensuing contracts for implementation. Notwithstanding, one hears of the prevalently explicit citation in the preambles to various related documentation, of the need for ‘building institutional capacity.’ Apparently this reservation has become a hardy element of most donor-funded projects, even before this century began – ‘building institutional capacity’ is the euphemistic evaluation of the country’s lack of relevant technical and managerial skills, not only egregiously absent in the public sector, but also detectable in those sub-sectors of the private sector, the delivery of whose services and products can be more easily evaluated by its customership.

It has been an ongoing recital of a tunnel constructed to provide passage to nowhere. A quick rewind, however, takes us back only a few years ago, when hundreds of the like-minded were herded together to create a chimera of the perceived elements of “competitiveness,” of which the ‘brain/skills drain’ was one recognised as substantive, and needing to be addressed as a matter of priority. A strategy of sorts was even developed for publication (if not for implementation).

Between then and now the absence of any productive follow-up action has been palpable, and no one seems to recognise that the current debacle at the University of Guyana as an indicative fall-out of the collective delinquency. Those very employers complain about the inadequacy of the human resources they are forced to utilise, albeit in some cases, after investment in remedial programmes.

That this very management class takes advantage of the ‘private sector’ education for their progeny also reflects an explicit recognition of the inadequacies of the foundation levels of the public education system. It is exactly at this juncture that the process of selection (or better differentiation) starts – as the privileged educated more easily qualify for employment, and/or are facilitated with opportunities for progressing overseas. Public sector education, being in default, virtually disqualifies its graduates from reasonably paid jobs regarding which, in any case, they have minimal strength to bargain with employers for their miscalculated self-value.

But, increasingly over recent years, a fundamental irony surrounding the value of the human resource has been the significant investment made by commercial organisations in the promotion (however superficial) of various sports, in which too many players are educationally challenged.

One only has to peruse the media to learn of the comparative earnings of overvalued players, whose demonstrated  mediocrity combine for  events marketed specifically to sell ‘entertainment’ (rather than promote skills), and to stimulate the consumption of their respective products by indiscriminating clienteles, making of the players unknowing entrepreneurs in essentially short-lived careers.

Meanwhile their more educated counterparts who may well be spectators, harbour little immediate hope of employment, much more of careers, however temporary. Given the wanton profitability  of ‘games not sports,’ would it be too much  to ask the investors  each to develop a fund which matches  that  allocated to their respective ‘promotions’ budgets, and contribute to an educational institution of choice.  Better yet, could not the Private Sector Commission sit with a representative ‘Fund for Educational Development’ task force, and agree a comprehensive programme, or series of programmes, for targeted financial/material assistance to identified educational institutions and/or programmes? We might well wind up with better educated and more productive sports talents.
In the meantime there exists the more realistic prospect of imported skills (including teachers).

Yours faithfully,
E B John