Speech by Second Minister for Education, Ms Indranee Rajah, at the Singapore Primary Schools Sports Council and Singapore Schools Sports Council 60th Anniversary Celebrations at Resorts World Sentosa

Published Date: 30 October 2019 12:00 AM

News Speeches

Mrs Lee Hui Feng,
Chairman, Singapore Primary Schools Sports Council (SPSSC)

Mr Tony Low,
Chairman, Singapore Schools Sports Council (SSSC)

Council members and guests,

Good morning!

Introduction

1. I would like to offer my heartiest congratulations to both Councils as you celebrate your 60th anniversary milestone. I am delighted to join you on this momentous occasion.

Affirming the Work of the Councils and the National School Games (NSG)

2. From humble beginnings in 1959, where inter-school competitions were organised across just 10 sports, you have grown significantly in capacity and outreach! Today, more than 60,000 student-athletes compete each year in the National School Games, also affectionately known as the NSG, in more than 400 championships across 10 divisions in 29 different sports. An even larger number of student supporters and parents, as well as members of the public, get to enjoy sport spectatorship from your work. For that, you deserve a big 60th birthday applause!

3. Through the NSG, you have created a unique safe space where students can pursue their passion in sports and build important character qualities like resilience and fortitude. The NSG also allows students to interact and forge lasting friendships across schools through their common love for sports and commitment to sportsmanship. Indeed, for many who participated, the NSG experience remains a recurring highlight and popular catch-up topic when they reminisce about their school days.

4. When I was in school, I still remember that sports meant going out on the fields of grass, and in those days, you would run on tracks with black grease and come back with muddy feet. It's all very different now, but nevertheless the enjoyment of sports is one thing that remains the same.

Key Milestones for the Councils Over the Last 10 Years

5. Over the years, I am glad to note that both Councils have been responsive to changes in the educational landscape, working to ensure that our NSG remains meaningful and relevant to a new generation of student-athletes. I commend you in particular for these recent changes:

  1. With the setting up of the National School Games Office (NSGO) in MOE HQ in 2014 to relieve the schools from administrative tasks like registration, procurements and cash payments, the Councils have taken on stronger leadership to focus on enhancing the educational aspects of our competitions. These efforts have made the NSG a stronger platform for developing character while pursuing sporting excellence. Evidence of sportsmanship abound at the NSG today. More than 2,000 Sportsmanship Awards and 8,000 Colours Awards were presented this year to recognise our students' good character and sports achievements respectively.
  2. The bold changes in the Junior Division competitions ensure that our young student-athletes' first foray into school sports is progressively paced for long-term development.
  3. The introduction of Para events in Tenpin Bowling, Shooting, Track & Field, and Swimming at NSG has also opened up opportunities for stronger interaction and peer learning amongst students from mainstream schools and those with special needs.
  4. Other changes like allowing combined teams from different schools and the involvement of parents as School Adult Representatives at the NSG have all demonstrated your responsiveness to the changing demographics in Singapore, even as you strive to meet both students' and schools' needs.

The Future of the Councils and NSG

6. While there is much achievement to speak about, I understand that you are not resting on your laurels, but have in fact started the conversations to review the Senior Division for the primary schools and the C Division competitions for the secondary schools. I am confident that your efforts will result in the NSG becoming even more accessible and developmentally appropriate. School sports must continue to be an uplifting force for our students, bringing together people regardless of race, language, religion or social class, to strive, learn and grow together.

7. In leading the changes ahead, you will need to bring together the key stakeholders: our teachers, parents, coaches, and the national sports associations. Engage them and bring them along on this journey, for we need the entire community to work together with us on these efforts. Leverage the key strength of the Councils – the gotong royong or community spirit that has served you well these past 60 years.

Acknowledgment and Conclusion

8. These last 60 years of success would not have been possible without the following groups of people, tirelessly serving the Councils in varying capacities:

  1. I would like to first thank the Councils' Standing and Management Committees in providing strong leadership for the Councils to negotiate the past and present challenges.
  2. Secondly, the various Games Organising Committees which comprises the Convenors, Organising Secretaries, Games Advisors and NSGO Executives. Together, you form the backbone of the Councils and have worked cohesively to design and organise meaningful and well-executed competitions that our students look forward to year after year.
  3. Thirdly, our valued partners and friends of the Councils. The NSG has grown to a scale where we can no longer work in isolation. We depend very much on the support of partners like Sport Singapore, the National Youth Sports Institute, the National Sports Associations, Sports Hub Private Limited and the Singapore Disability Sports Council. You have supported us tremendously over the years in technical expertise and services. I encourage you to continue your very strong support for this important work that MOE is doing through the Councils and the NSG, as we look forward to many good years of treasured partnerships.
  4. Finally, the participating schools, as represented by your students and teachers. Your active participation has added much vibrancy and colour to the NSG, rendering it Singapore's largest school-based sporting platform today.

9. I would like to end off by congratulating both Councils once more, and reaffirming the good work you have put in these last 60 years. Riding on the strengths of how far you have come, I am confident that the future of the Councils and NSG is in good hands under your stewardship, as you strive to serve our students and Singapore through school sports.

10. Thank you all very much!

Share this article: