Adventure learning to go on despite Sabah quake tragedy

The Sabah earthquake in June which claimed the lives of 10 people from Singapore, mainly pupils from Tanjong Katong Primary School (TKPS), is a tragedy that will take a long time for Singapore to get over.

But adventure learning programmes will still go on with the necessary safety precautions, as they help to "bring up a generation who will grow up tough and able to work closely together", Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said in his National Day Rally speech yesterday.

Schools encourage students to play sports, and organise adventure learning and character education programmes as they help toughen the character of students and teach them about working with others, he said.

His father, the late former prime minister Lee Kuan Yew, had also exhorted the importance of being a "rugged society", said PM Lee.

"We don't use that term quite so often any more, but our people must still be robust and tough, able to take hard knocks, always striving to be better.

"But a rugged society doesn't mean every man for himself. We are strong even though we are small, because we are strong together." On June 5, a 6.0-magnitude earthquake struck Mount Kinabalu and killed 18 people.

Ten of them were from Singapore - seven pupils and two teachers from TKPS, as well as an adventure camp guide attached to the school. Eight teachers and 29 pupils from TKPS had gone on its annual Omega Challenge - a seven-year- old programme where pupil leaders scale Mount Kinabalu with the help of their teachers and adventure camp guides.

The programme had been successful, said PM Lee, adding that former pupils who had gone on similar trips had spoken about how much they benefited from it.

"Tragically, on their most recent expedition to climb Mount Kinabalu, the Omega Challenge group was caught in an earthquake," he said.

"We all mourned them and grieved with their families. We held a national day of remembrance. It will take us a long time to get over this tragedy. But life goes on and it's important that we move on.

"And I know that the other TKPS (pupils) and teachers who were on this trip are courageously doing so," said PM Lee.

This article was first published on August 24, 2015.
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