Mon, Aug 31, 2009
The Straits Times
PE teachers get a boost

By Leonard Lim

PURSUING a career as a physical education (PE) teacher is set to become more attractive.

Recognising sport's value in character-building and promoting a healthy lifestyle, the Ministry of Education (MOE) intends to do more to develop a strong sporting culture among students - by strengthening the capabilities of PE teachers and giving them more opportunities for professional development.

To that end, MOE's director-general of education, Ho Peng, is leading a study to find ways to enhance sports, co-curricular activities (CCA) and aesthetics, Education Minister Ng Eng Hen said yesterday.

'One clear need is to provide better career pathways for sports and aesthetic educators,' said Dr Ng.

'We've got to make it more attractive for people who feel they want to specialise in sports and aesthetics, to be able to see viable career paths for them to progress.'

Greater specialisation of such officers, both in training and deployment, would improve the delivery of sports and aesthetics programmes in schools, leading to a well-rounded education for students.

Possible fields of specialisation include sports medicine, sports science and sports marketing, said Goh Ek Piang, the deputy director of the MOE's Co-Curricular Activities Branch.

Added Dr Ng: 'A body of such professionals can also do much in promoting their craft as well as raise standards in schools, as they share best practices and engage with like-minded professionals overseas.'

Speaking at the Singapore Schools Sports Councils' 50th anniversary celebrations at Orchid Country Club yesterday, Dr Ng, the guest of honour, stressed that sports and aesthetics must be seen as integral parts of each school day and not of secondary importance.

As the Primary Education Review and Implementation Committee recommended last year, such activities have already been incorporated into curriculum time.

The MOE study follows several other initiatives that have been launched recently to encourage sports participation among students.

They include the Sports Education Programme, launched in 2007 with the Singapore Sports Council. Under this, schools receive funding for students to learn basic games skills and play games at intra-school competitions.

Fuchun Secondary's head of PE Thurai Raja, who has been teaching for 30 years, gave the thumbs-up to the latest initiative.

'Training better quality PE teachers will have a trickle-down effect. It'll get students more excited and interested in sports, increase participation and in turn, lead to sporting excellence,' said the 56-year-old.

'I wish I had this in my time, but I'm sure my younger colleagues will benefit.'

This article was first published in The Straits Times.

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