Speeches

Speech by Mr Masagos Zulkifli BMM, Minister of State, Ministry of Education and Ministry of Home Affairs at the 52nd Annual General Meeting of the Singapore Schools Sports Councils at Hwa Chong Institution on Thursday, 30 December 2010 at 3.00 pm

Miss Ho Peng
Director General of Education

Miss Sum Chee Wah
Director, Education Programmes.

Mr Lim Lai Chuan
Chairman, Singapore Schools Sports Council and
Principal, North Vista Secondary School

Mrs Lee Hui Feng
Chairman, Singapore Primary Schools Sports Council and
Principal, Nanyang Primary School

Principals, Vice-Principals, Heads of Department

Ladies and Gentlemen

A DECADE OF GROWTH AND EXPANSION OF SPORTS IN SCHOOLS

Today marks not only the end of an exciting year of sports for Singapore, but also the end of a vibrant decade of sports in Singapore schools. Over the last 10 years, the number of national inter-school competitions organized by the Singapore Schools Sports Council has increased from 22 to 27 games, and those organized by the Singapore Primary Schools Sports Council has increased from 16 to 21 games. All together, some 55,000 students were able to test and sharpen their skills in well-organized competitions every year.

We wish to congratulate the Principals, all of whom are members of either the Singapore Schools Sports Council or the Singapore Primary Schools Sports Council, their Heads of Department and CCAB officers for the wonderful work they have done in promoting sports in our schools.

The last decade also saw us giving more focus to talent development, with the setting up of the Singapore Sports School, and 21 Junior Sports Academies and 3 Youth Sports Academies in mainstream schools, catering to more than 800 students in 11 sports. The Singapore Sports Schools and the sports academies provide different pathways to groom students who are talented in sports and cater for the development of peaks of excellence for sports within our educational landscape.

Besides expanding programmes, MOE has remained committed to developing the hardware to support these programmes. To date, 99 schools have been equipped with an Indoor Sports Hall and 37 schools with an Artificial Turf. The provision of Indoor Sports Hall and Artificial Turfs in our schools has increased the availability of sports facilities in schools significantly. In the next few years, we can expect 186 more Indoor Sports Halls and 248 more Artificial Turfs in our schools.

We concluded the first decade of this century by hosting the Inaugural Youth Olympic Games. The YOG saw the direct involvement of more than 100,000 students and 6800 teachers from across schools and MOE staff in the various YOG events. All schools also organized school-based activities that promote sportsmanship and the Olympic values, or create opportunities for cultural exchange with their twinned NOCs in support of the YOG. 59 schools also contributed to developing their student athletes for the Games and the YOG training squads. Eventually 122 school athletes were selected to participate in the YOG. Many of you would have been present at the YOG competition venues and would have witnessed the courage and determination of our athletes. I would like to take this opportunity to thank all the 59 schools for their contribution.

DEVELOPMENTAL OPPORTUNITIES FOR ALL

MOE’s approach to PE and sports development in schools is an inclusive one, based on developing opportunities and provisions to cater to students at all ages and abilities. The broad philosophy of this approach is to ensure that every student who has the potential, ability or interest is provided with the opportunity to develop his potential to the fullest. Hence while developing a vibrant and pervasive sports culture is our topmost priority, developmental opportunities are also present for those with the aptitude to be nurtured into sporting talents.

This philosophy is encapsulated in the PE and Sports Development Framework which was launched by Minister for Education in May this year.

As we move forward, we want to make sports a way of life for every student through PE and Sports. Earlier this year, we have announced that we will progressively increase PE curriculum time with effect from 2011, such that by 2017, all students will enjoy 2 to 2½ hours of PE per week. We have also introduced, at the Primary 1 and 2 levels, the Programme for Active Learning (PAL) which has a component on sports.

From next year, we will also introduce competitions for various sports and games at the recreational level. This will create more opportunities for students who are not involved in the zone or national competitions that we now have. These games and competitions will be organized through the Centres of Excellence (COE) for Sports, school clusters, or the Sports Development Committees (SDC) within each zone.

Through all these programmes and recreational competitions, we hope to see every student develop qualities such as responsibility for self, positive self-esteem and sportsmanship, and be imbued with values like respect, fair play and teamwork. We also hope that they will take ownership of their health and fitness through enjoyable and fulfilling sports activities. To this end, our schools and the sports fraternity, must make mass participation, the enjoyment of sports, and character development, a priority.

VALUES INCULCATION AND SAFETY IN SPORTS

At the core of our efforts in PE and sports is the aim of developing in our students qualities such as responsibility for self, positive self-esteem and sportsmanship, and inculcate values like respecting others, fair play and teamwork. PE & sports play an important role in the physical, cognitive, social, emotional and character development of every student, not just for our top athletes. Students can pick up skills like self-management, responsible decision-making and social awareness, which will not only help them in sports, but will also be transferable to their daily lives. PE and sports also contribute towards developing psychomotor skills, health and fitness, particularly in the early years.

A values-embedded programme for PE and sports is a pre-requisite for safety in sports. For example, the understanding of respect will allow the athlete to restrain himself and compete to the best of his abilities without doing harm to himself or his opponent. The Sports Safety Committee, has recommended in its recently released report that the level of safety awareness in schools should be raised to support the growing involvement of students in PE and sports. Hence, character development must be seen as an integral part of PE and sports. A values laden PE and sports culture in schools will help to lay the foundation for next generation of rugged and resilient Singaporeans.

Here’s an inspiring story from the recently concluded 16th Asian Games. Uzbekistan’s Denis Istomin could have won the game in the quarterfinals. However, he asked to change a wrong call by the referee. It cost him the victory, and the chance for the gold medal. But he won in sportsmanship. The Asian Tennis Federation honored Istomin for his good sportsmanship. Any teacher or coach would be proud of him, for his actions spoke volumes about the depth of his character and values as a sportsman. Perhaps, the Schools Sports Council and the Primary Schools Sports Council, could consider giving out such Good Sportsmanship Awards for our National Schools Competitions.

The PE teachers and coaches have an important role to play in equipping our students with sportsmanship and the qualities which I’ve mentioned earlier. With the setting up of the Physical Education and Sports Teachers’ Academy (PESTA), more of our teachers can be better equipped to provide rich learning experiences through PE and Sports. When it is fully operational next year, I hope our principals will send more PE teachers and teachers in charge of sports CCAs, to attend the courses organized by PESTA. These courses will help upgrade our teachers’ competencies to teach skills and values through PE and sports, and help make sports enjoyable for all.

Coaches and instructors need to be good role-models for our students. We need our teachers to work closely with our coaches and instructors to ensure that all our students develop the value of fair play, teamwork, discipline, and the ability to win and lose gracefully. MOE has been running courses to help coaches develop awareness of our educational policies and equip them with basic pedagogical skills. Moving forward, we will step up our efforts to work with relevant partners in organizing courses for coaches beyond the current range to include safety and values so that coaches can support the teachers effectively.

ASEAN SCHOOLS GAMES

Come July 2011, Singapore will play host to athletes from our ASEAN Schools. The 3rd ASEAN Schools Games will be held from 1st to 7th July in Singapore. The ASG, in short, seeks to promote ASEAN solidarity in our youths through school sports. It also provides opportunities for our school athletes to benchmark their sporting talents with those in the ASEAN region, as well as to interact and engage in cultural exchange within ASEAN.

Having the experience from organizing the Asian Youth Games and the Youth Olympic Games, I am confident that as the Singapore Schools Sports Council, together with MOE and the schools take up the challenge of hosting the ASEAN Schools Games, we will once again provide a rich sporting experience for our ASEAN neighbours, as well as a meaningful learning experience for students in our local schools.

CONCLUSION

Before I end my address this morning, I would like to thank the two outgoing zone chairpersons for their dedicated service to the council: Mr Tan Teck Hock, Principal of Serangoon Junior College, and Chairman of the North Zone Schools Sports Council, who will be moving on to head PESTA, and Mr Ee Chye Heng, Principal of East View Secondary School, and Chairman of the East Zone Schools Sports Council, who will be retiring. I would also like to thank Mr Phua Keng Chia, Advisor to the North Zone Schools Sports Council, who is also retiring this year. These individuals have given many years of dedicated service to the council and their presence will be missed.

I would also like to thank Mr Goh Ek Piang, Deputy Director, Co-Curricular Activities Branch, for his leadership and service for the last 3 years as Advisor to the Singapore Schools Sports Council and the Singapore Primary Schools Sports Council. Under Mr Goh’s leadership, the structure of the national schools games has been streamlined, even as the range of games competitions was expanded and enriched to include new games organized by the National Sports Associations. Mr Goh’s close rapport with the NSAs has helped to strengthen the relationships among the games officials and convenors. His personal touch with members of the ASEAN and Asian Schools Sports organisations has given Singapore Schools Sports Council a higher profile in the region. He has enabled the Sports Council to grow from strength to strength. We wish to thank Mr Goh for his many contributions to education, and we wish him a happy retirement.

Taking over from Mr Goh will be Mr Ong Kim Soon, the new Deputy Director for Co-Curricular Activities. I am confident that CCAB will continue to work with the Singapore Schools Sports Council and the Singapore Primary Schools Sports Council to bring sports promotion and education to new heights.

It is now my pleasure to declare the 52nd AGM of the Singapore Schools Sports Councils open. I wish you another exciting and fruitful year ahead.

Thank you.