Meaning of CCAs has been tarnished. Time for MOE to do something about it

I saw a letter to the ST Forum today, and it reminded me of the post that I wrote a few weeks back. It’s about doing CCAs and CIP with a purpose, and I some feedback from different people.

Anyway, I just feel that the image and purpose of CCAs has been tarnished. CCAs are being dropped because it is difficult to obtain awards and medals. Doesn’t it sound like what the typical unfeeling principal and teachers have been doing?

Let me just bring up one point: Hasn’t principals and teachers been forcing students who are weak in a certain subject to drop the subject at A or O level? We can’t deny that it has happened. On the surface, it is for the student’s sake. The student can then spend more time on productive studying on subjects that could increase his grades / L1R5. However, some students do not have a choice. They do not get the chance to decide that they want to work hard and improve their score. They end up dropping the subject which they end up regretting.

It is the same with CCAs. Now, unproductive CCAs that do not push up the school image are being dropped. What happened to holistic development? What happened to student’s interests? Has the desire for awards and recognition overtaken the simple fact that it’s not what you win in the end, but the process? What we are teaching our young is that if you can’t win, don’t do it. That is totally stupid behaviour.

We are inculcating lousy values to our student’s in this way. Schools are just aiming for good grades for their graduating students, and as many CCA awards as possible. Hasn’t I not stupid highlighted the dampening of confidence in our students who belong to those non-winning schools?

I believe that if we want to have such a thing called CCA, we must allow our students to participate in anything they have interest in. Unless the participation is low, we should not close down CCAs simply because we are not winning any awards.

Entrepreneurs do not start up companies because they are assured of winning. Entrepreneurs put in their effort and time because of their interest in a specific field, and they may end up losing, but they gain valuable experience in that time. That is what is important. The experience and the passion which we should keep burning and not dampen.

It’s time for MOE to step in and change the system. If not, every school will end up with only 1 CCA because that is the only thing that they are good at. If you check out the top schools that have multiple SYF Gold awards and what have you, then some schools will not even have an award. What will become of CCAs then? A toy for the “elite”?

Don’t run schools like a business

IT APPEARS to me that, increasingly, Singapore schools are being managed more like businesses than as institutions of learning.

I graduated from a neighbourhood secondary school six years ago. The place held many beautiful memories for me, especially of the years I spent taking up gymnastics as my co-curricular activity (CCA).

However, the system has changed. Two years back, my CCA girls’ team was disbanded.

This was a sport that the school had nurtured for over 40 years, and which had benefited various cohorts of students over the years.

This was the CCA that had shaped me, and taught me to face challenges with courage, take failures as lessons, and conquer difficulties with perseverance.

I was saddened by the school’s decision to terminate this CCA, but what was more disappointing was the reason given: ‘We are not winning enough awards for the school, and we are simply not bringing glory to the school.’

That, to me, translates to: ‘This CCA is just not profitable enough.’

The school justified its action by saying that it should just concentrate on CCAs that will bring results.

It proposed a ‘single-gender sports CCA’, where each sport concentrates on training only one gender, so as to ‘maximise efficiency’ in its quest for victory.

It is a shame that a school should axe a CCA just because it is not bringing in enough awards and glory.

I salute the Education Ministry’s foresight in including CCAs as part of a student’s curriculum.

Quoting from its website: ‘CCAs are an integral part of our students’ holistic, well-rounded education. They help nurture in students qualities such as resilience, tenacity, confidence and perseverance, which prepare them to adapt and thrive in a rapidly changing world.’

I urge all schools to remember this, and stop managing schools as if they are corporations.

Give students a chance to grow up in an environment where they can learn about and cherish the spirit of sportsmanship, even if they do not win prizes or awards.

Lee Shu Shan (Ms)

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