By Neto Baptiste
Schools across Antigua and Barbuda should have both the capacity and permission to find ways of generating the finances required to fund their own scholastic and athletic programmes or events.
This is the view of principal of the Princess Margaret School (PMS) and sports enthusiast, Dr Colin Greene, who spoke on the heels of debate regarding the branding of sporting gear utilised by schools during the various competitions.
“The school has to be an independent entity to find ways to generate funding to support their programmes so there won’t be anybody’s names on any jerseys at PMS except Princess Margaret. When I came here I met a philosophy where some students were contributing to the uniforms and I stopped that [nonsense]. I think it should be a gift from the school that you earn the right to represent them and to wear their colours and if we can’t afford to participate then we just don’t so there are no sponsors that go on our uniforms whether political or otherwise,” he said.
There was public debate last week over the name of sports minister, Daryll Matthew, appearing on the football uniforms for one primary school in his constituency.
Although it was later revealed by coach, Basil “Tamo” Grant that it was he who had printed Matthew’s name on the uniforms — without his knowledge some time ago — the debate centred on the morality of the practice which is seemingly not new.
Greene said that although he has no issues with individuals contributing to their alma mater, he is personally against the politicising of any donation or contribution.
“If the Hon Gaston Browne makes a contribution to PMS, then I would gather he is making it as an [alumnus], and that is acceptable. The same thing with the Hon Baldwin Spencer as he is an [alumnus] and that is the same thing with Hon Molwyn Joseph and Londel Benjamin. They are all alumni of the Princess Margaret School, so it is reasonable for them to make that kind of contribution. For me, from a personal point of view, there are problems going in those directions because you have parents and other people who have their own political persuasions which I am not interested in, and they might be offended by that so I know what I am doing,” he said.
The principal, who has managed to successfully merge academics and sports within PMS, suggested however that government should be the entity funding sports within the schools and not individual politicians.
“I think that government, and not individual politicians, has a responsibility to fund what happens with our sporting programme, and not just from a centralized position from the Ministry of Sports but from an individual position. I think every school should receive some form of seed funding directly into the school and start up monies to run their programmes. I believe we can generate funds independently to support our programmes if we plan it properly and that is what has worked before,” Greene said.
Matthew has since promised to put rules in place to mitigate against similar practices in the future.