SPEECH BY DR JANIL PUTHUCHEARY, MINISTER OF STATE FOR EDUCATION AT THE OPENING CEREMONY OF THE NATIONAL SCHOOL GAMES

1. I am delighted to join you again this year for the combined National School Games (NSG) Opening Ceremony organised by the Singapore Schools Sports Council and the Singapore Primary Schools Sports Council.

2. Back in the 1920s, when inter-school sports just began, Singapore was still part of the Straits Settlement. Back then, inter-school sports championships were organised for just four sports: swimming, athletics, volleyball, and football. Now, our school sports councils organise more than 400 championships across 29 sports annually. Each year, 55,000 to 57,000 student athletes participate in NSG, about 12% of our student population. Last year, the Singapore Schools Sports Council officially welcomed the inclusion of para athletes into the NSG. 25 para athletes took part in Athletics and Swimming. We look forward to more aspiring para athletes at NSG!

3. Beyond NSG, our schools are also coming together to organise less formal, inter-school sports competitions with modified rules and format, to reach out to more students. This is great for increased sports opportunities for even more students.

4. Last year, six primary schools from the N1 Cluster came together to provide students a chance to play 3v3 Basketball and 5v5 Football. The response from the students and their parents, who otherwise would not have a chance to experience an inter-school sports competition, has been very positive. We hope that more schools and even parent groups, will come forward to create more sporting opportunities for more students, and make sports and physical activities, an integral part of everyday living.

5. My heartfelt thanks to school principals; teachers; MOE officers; coaches and game officials. Everybody plays a part to provide a safe, vibrant, active, and fun sporting arena for our students to learn about sports and to discover their talents.

6. There is something in common across all sports. It teaches students values and shapes their attitudes, such as to respect the rules of the sport and the game officials, and sportsmanship. These are common values across all sports and are very good reasons why sports should be an important part of every student’s education. Trainings and competitions are valuable learning opportunities for our students to foster a positive attitude under all circumstances.

7. Singapore, headed by the Ministry of Education, will host the ASEAN Schools Games (ASG) in July this year. Singapore last hosted the ASG 6 years ago, in 2011. This is an opportunity to strengthen the Singapore spirit, build our sense of belonging, and contribute to Singapore’s success at hosting and competing at the games. It is also a chance to show our ASEAN counterparts our social unity, our values, our work ethics, and tell them our stories.

8. Over the next seven months, no matter who wins or loses, provide the respect to all your fellow athletes, adhere to the rules and codes of conduct, and respect the teachers and game officials. Above all, I wish all of you an enjoyable NSG that is full of learning opportunities!

Source: Ministry of Education, Singapore

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