Sports participation by youths

Published Date: 13 April 2015 12:00 AM

News Parliamentary Replies

Name and Constituency of Member of Parliament

Dr. Benedict Tan, Nominated MP


To ask the Minister for Education in light of the 2011 National Sports Participation Survey which shows a drop in sports participation rates from 67% in 2005 to 50% in 2011 for the 20-24 year old age group (a) what efforts have been made to reverse the drop in sports participation rates among students in tertiary institutions; and (b) whether there are dipstick figures to show more recent trends.



The Ministry of Education adopts a holistic approach towards physical and sports education throughout the education system. At the pre-tertiary level, Physical Education (PE) lessons are designed to help students develop strong fundamental motor skills, expose them to a wide variety of sports or physical activities, and equip them with knowledge to design their own fitness programme. With access to sports facilities and recreational games, students have the opportunity to enjoy and live a healthy lifestyle, building a foundation to pursue these activities beyond their years in school.



At the tertiary level, our post-secondary education institutions (PSEIs) continue to provide an environment which supports sports participation. At most of the polytechnics and the Institute of Technical Education (ITE) colleges, students participate in compulsory sports and wellness modules. The Sports for Life programme at Singapore Polytechnic (SP), for example, allows first-year students to participate in a sport of their choice, with options ranging from common sports such as swimming and tennis, to more novel ones such as laser tag and martial arts. Beyond the first year, students can continue to take elective modules to further their sports journey. The larger universities (NUS, NTU) also offer sports modules – some of which are credit-bearing – to their students.



Outside of the formal curriculum, mass participation events and competitive inter- and intra-institution games build a sporting culture at the PSEIs, and provide convenient opportunities for students to be involved in sports, regardless of their level of proficiency. The NUS Sports Club, for example, organises “SunNUS”, a popular annual beach sports event that brings together students, staff, alumni, and the public for a day of sports on Sentosa’s beaches. The barrier to entry is low, and caters to those looking for recreational sports. Those seeking more competitive sports can also participate in inter-faculty games at the PSEIs, or the annual inter-institution games, including the Singapore Universities Games (SUNiG), the Inter-Varsity Polytechnic Games (IVP) as well as the Polytechnic-Institute of Technical Education (POL-ITE) Games. These programmes and activities are often free, if not heavily subsidised, to ensure that the cost of sports participation is kept as low as possible. Students also have access to a wide range of facilities at the PSEIs to pursue sports at their own time, and in line with their own interests.



Not all within the 20-24 age group are enrolled in our IHLs. Many are already in the workplace, and Minister Lawrence Wong in January this year outlined the efforts that MCCY is making to encourage sports participation among this group, as well as among the public. These efforts by our IHLs and MCCY are contributing to reversing the trend of declining sports participation among those in this age group. The member will be pleased to hear that dipstick figures taken between 2012 to 2014 have reflected an increase in the sports participation rates for this age group to about 70%.



While this trend is encouraging, sports participation should be for life, and should not stop once students leave our PSEIs. To encourage active and healthy living beyond students’ tertiary education years, our PSEIs also conduct sports and health-related education programmes. For example, NTU has a Healthy Lifestyle Unit that organises health education and healthy lifestyle activities. At the polytechnics, RP’s Health and Fitness module equips students with strategies to maintain a healthy lifestyle. These efforts lay the foundation for our students to engage in sports and lead healthy lives throughout their adult years.

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