Speech by Mr Chan Chun Sing, Minister for Education, at the Opening Ceremony of the National School Games

Published Date: 07 April 2022 04:00 PM

News Speeches

Our partners and colleagues,

Principals, Teachers, ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls

Introduction

1 A very warm welcome to the 2022 National School Games (NSG) Opening Ceremony for the Singapore Schools Sports Council and the Singapore Primary Schools Sports Council. This marks the start of the sports season for our students in our Primary Schools, Secondary Schools, Junior Colleges and Centralised Institute.

The Last Two Years

2 Sports has been an integral component of our education system and an important platform for character development for many years.

  1. However, due to the pandemic in the past two years, many of our student athletes had missed out on the valuable experience of participating in the NSG competitions.
  2. Our students had also missed the experience of cheering on their schoolmates and friends.

3 The NSG had to be unprecedentedly suspended and cancelled in 2020 for the first time in over 60 years of the Councils' history.

  1. We took a calibrated approach to resume only 12 games in 2021.
  2. Student's safety is and has always been the utmost priority in our minds.
  3. But we were also mindful of restoring some of these important student development experiences at every opportunity for student's overall well-being and their holistic development.

Moving On

4 That is why, we are all delighted to be here today. We are able to resume NSG for all 29 sports with an expected 60,000 students competing this year.

  1. The high vaccination rate amongst our students has given us greater confidence to resume all the games, mostly in standard format, while mitigating the risks of participation.
  2. More than 97% of our Secondary and JCCI students are already fully vaccinated.
  3. The vaccination progress for our Primary school students is also on track, with about 7 in 10 students fully vaccinated.

5 The high vaccination rate in schools has also allowed us to resume more activities safely for all our students.

  1. I would like to thank both the parents and students for supporting the fight against COVID-19 and for working closely with our schools and school leaders.

6 I could feel and sense the high levels of excitement amongst our students and parents when the news on the resumption of NSG was announced earlier this year.

  1. During my school visits, teachers and students alike have told me that they are enthusiastically anticipating the return of sports competition.
  2. Our student athletes could not wait to get back into action and they are eager to showcase their skills and put their abilities to test in an authentic competition setting.
  3. Parents are also looking forward to supporting their children, to see them grow and build friendships through the competition.

Carpe Diem – Seize the Day

7 I would like to use this opportunity to highlight the spirit of "Carpe Diem". Usually translated as "seize the day" from Latin, it has been especially important these two years and is something that we should all strive for. Allow me to cite some examples.

8 Loh Kean Yew, who made us proud by becoming the first Singaporean to win the Badminton World Federation (BWF) World Championship Men's Singles title, started off his badminton journey by playing with his brothers and neighbours, using the gate outside his home as a net.

  1. Despite the makeshift conditions of the court and basic equipment back then, this creative version of badminton had, in one way or another, built the foundations and his passion to pursue the game and helped him achieve success at the highest level.
  2. Even as Kean Yew moves up to 9th in the world rankings, he constantly reflects on his experiences and strives to improve himself.
  3. He mentioned in one of his interviews that throughout those tournaments that he had participated in, he still does not have enough consistency, something he is trying to work on. He also said that he had good days and bad days and he wants to try to make every day a good day. In other words -- to seize the day!

9 Another example is the football team from Meridian Secondary School that did their school proud last year.

  1. When NSG football was not resumed, they embraced the opportunity to try a new sport and participated in Sepaktakraw instead.
  2. They trained for the game within a short period of time and made the best out of it as they emerged as one of the top 8 teams in the competition.
  3. While majority of players have gone back to participate in football, some of them have decided to continue with Sepaktakraw (photo to be shown on screen) this year.
  4. But this time, the players are collaborating with their schoolmates from the GEAR-UP programme, an initiative that aims to enhance and scale up student support, thus creating more opportunities for the schoolmates to compete in NSG.

10 The stories of Kean Yew and Meridian Footballers-turned-Sepaktakraw players have shown us how it is important for us to seize the day.

  1. They made the best out of the situations that they were in, instead of waiting for the ideal conditions to come along.
  2. In the words of Winston Churchill, "A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty."

11 I am heartened that our administrators, educators and coaches were able to respond with such flexibility when confronted with the developments in response to COVID-19 to ensure continual learning and kept the students going for the past 2 years.

  1. To keep the students motivated despite the SMM restrictions in place, they developed new skills for e-pedagogy and exercised creativity and flexibility to keep their training sessions stimulating and meaningful.
  2. I want to thank the teachers and coaches for pressing on and taking on the leadership to guide our students through these tough times. Thank you all very much.

12 Likewise, a big thank you to all our NSG Organising Committees, and not forgetting our key partners like SportSG and the National Sport Federations, for your unflagging commitment to sports, and your tireless efforts to make NSG happen again this year.

  1. Your ability to stay nimble and react appropriately in the planning and execution of the games have made you the role models that best exemplifies the notion of Carpe Diem.

Conclusion

13 Let us all continue with the spirit to seize the day and make the best out of this season.

  1. Let us focus on what we can accomplish in the present moment and embrace every opportunity that comes along.
  2. Let us learn how to be flexible and adaptable so that we can make the best of any situation that we find ourselves in.
  3. Let us reflect on every experience, and learn from them so that we grow from strength to strength, for ourselves and our teammates.

14 With this, I wish all our student athletes an exciting and meaningful NSG season. And I would like to thank everyone who has put in tremendous effort to make NSG possible for our students.

15 Thank you.

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