Teachers welcome changes in National School Games, parents question new sports structure


Sports is considered to be one of the biggest gateways for the development of the youth. It not only makes the body fit but provides a strong mental boost, thus enhancing overall development. Education, on the other hand, is required to create the base of a generation.

When teachers welcomed new sports development program for students by redesigning the National School Games Junior Division, parents thought that maybe the authority is going overboard to reduce stress levels in the ongoing education system.

Even though parents in Singapore have acknowledged the efforts of the Ministry of Education (MOE) for developing the future of the country's youth, they believe that the pressure their children face in academics and sports is different.

Singapore's Education Minister, Ng Chee Meng announced on January 24, Wednesday that the tournament, which enrols students aged nine to 11, will be reconstructed to reduce the perceived stakes in sports competition. According to him, the revamped structure will also increase the playing opportunities. The three-tier competition has been applied to rugby.

According to the traditional structure, a round-robin format is usually followed by all the schools and top two schools from each group gets selected to the next stage of the competition.

In the new system, schools knocked out by their opponents in the round-robin stage, can continue their run at the 'second-tier'. On the other hand, the top schools will be playing under 'first-tier'.

According to Today Online, Chew Yen Ping, whose children are studying in Jurong West Primary School said that feeling nervous and pressurized during a sports contest is very natural because it is a competition but at the same time he believes "it's about winning or losing and that is well accepted."

The 40-year-old parent also believes that study is a competition and if someone doesn't score well in Primary School Leaving Exam (PSLE) he or she should not feel like a loser. According to her, "Such thinking is rooted here, so MOE can make changes to reduce the pressure in learning. But they should understand that it's different from sports."

Another contradictory comment has come from a Singaporean woman Fiza Jaafar, who believes that compared to schools, sports may cause less pressure on a child, as education requires more achievements. In addition to it the 41-year-old mother, who has a son studying in Primary 6 at Chua Chu Kang Primary School said "That is how they attract students to enter their schools, by winning this title or that title. So, perhaps schools have to change their views about sports competitions first. So schools have to change their views about sports competitions first."

Another parent of a girl, studying in Frontier Primary School thinks that the three-tier system might make students less competitive and self-satisfied. The 32-year-old parent Yap Wee Leong said that now it's the teachers' responsibility to make students aware of all these changes, including the benefit of this new system.

Abdul Rashid, a student's father, thinks that if participants don't get into the first-tier round, "they will try to get into it in the next year. So, if they pick themselves up, they will learn the meaning of resilience."

Among the teachers who welcomed the new system, a physical education teacher at North View Primary School, Mohd Hafeez Mohd Kassim said that the competition will give more match exposure to students and will allow different students to participate from different tiers. Supporting Kassim's comment, another teacher from St Andrew's Junior School, Khairil Anuar said that by the three-tier competition format all the participants "can still participate in the other tiers and that can motivate them to do well."