Wed, Jul 16, 2008
The New Paper
Onus on students to keep fit

THEY will not force physical fitness on their pupils.

Instead, they will encourage their students to keep fit.

That was what three out of our five polytechnics said.

The fourth - Ngee Ann Polytechnic - already has a compulsory Physical Education (PE) programme, if only for one module.

The fifth polytechnic, Republic Polytechnic, has not responded to our queries.

On 18 Jun, The New Paper reported that seven in 10 students at our polytechnics lived a physically inactive lifestyle.

And that did not bode too well for the boys heading into national service (NS).

That report came after two polytechnic graduates died during national service in June.

When contacted, the Education Ministry said the polytechnics are statutory boards and 'have the autonomy to decide on their curriculum to best cater to their students' needs and abilities'.

So, we put the question to the polytechnics.

One institution that has successfully incorporated PE into the curriculum is Ngee Ann Polytechnic.

Its spokesman said that every first-year student must complete a compulsory Sports and Wellness module.

The polytechnic offers about 20 different sports for students. They range from flag football to yoga to cheerleading.

Ngee Ann Polytechnic's new gym, which sees an average of 200 students daily, is well-equipped and has a full-time fitness instructor to help students.

The spokesman for Singapore Polytechnic said that the institution organises a sports elective every semester to encourage students to pick up a new activity.

This semester, there are 11 sports available.

He added that Singapore Polytechnic has more than 30 teams and 27 clubs that are sports-related and more than eight sports facilities that include a beach volleyball pitch, gym and rock climbing wall.

Their Student Affairs and Alumni Department also organises activities and workshops to promote an active lifestyle.

Over at Temasek Polytechnic, apart from having co-curricular activities (CCAs) and sports competitions, it introduced a student interest group called i.Live last year.

A spokesman said the group aims to inspire students to practise and maintain a healthy lifestyle, promote healthy eating habits, regular exercise and a smoke-free environment, among other things.


Given that polytechnic life entails attending back-to-back tutorials and lectures and meeting project deadlines, students may feel pressed for time to exercise.

So Nanyang Polytechnic does not schedule classes after 3pm every Wednesday, to encourage students to take part in sports activities, its spokesman said.

'NYP has also implemented a rigorous physical fitness training programme to help our students pass the Napfa (national physical fitness award) test' he added.

The Education Ministry said that polytechnics 'strongly support' healthy lifestyles for both students and staff members. It is also reviewing the curriculum and other possible initiatives to promote physical fitness further with the polytechnics.

By Shila Naidu and Melody Zaccheus, newsroom interns

This article was first published in The New Paper on July 14, 2008.

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