I can relate to Madam Lee Hui Ling's description of a typical student's gruelling schedule and her call for a review of the time spent on co-curricular activities ("Review time spent on CCAs"; Monday).
In reality, it is difficult to impose a blanket cap on the number of hours spent on CCAs. This is true especially for schools with niche CCAs linked to the Direct School Admissions scheme. Extra hours may be needed to maintain standards, and also when there are competitions.
It is worthwhile to examine the true purpose of CCAs.
It would be worrying if the desire to win accolades to boost the school's standing overshadows the ideal of developing the interests and talents of students.
The key is for the student to engage purposefully in his CCAs; the time spent is immaterial.
While long hours may take a toll on students in the long term, we run the risk of mollycoddling them by shielding them from tough CCA schedules. This is a chance for them to learn about time management and work-life balance in a protective environment; this knowledge will stand them in good stead in the working world.
Students who take up CCAs outside school ought to be given credit. This should be reflected in the official transcript, especially if significant time is spent on these activities.
For example, a student in the National Youth Orchestra should get more credit than one in the school ensemble.
In a society that prizes academic excellence above most things, there seems to be a perception that CCAs and studies cannot coexist.
Parents may consider CCAs a distraction from studies, but do not realise that studying without CCA participation can be equally exhausting.
As far as regulating CCA hours goes, it is up to teachers to judge whether the students under their charge are coping well. The students should also be counted on to juggle their CCAs and studies.
Paul Sim Ruiqi
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