Exercise

Students will spend more time on physical activities

Teacher Salina Kasimon, 32, from PCF Sparkletots Preschool@Fengshan leading her nursery class in exercise. Full-day pre-school programmes will have to devote at least an hour to physical activity daily.
Teacher Salina Kasimon, 32, from PCF Sparkletots Preschool@Fengshan leading her nursery class in exercise. Full-day pre-school programmes will have to devote at least an hour to physical activity daily.ST PHOTO: SEAH KWANG PENG

Children of all ages will be given the chance to be more involved in physical activities at school, starting in pre-school.

Under new rules to be introduced by the Early Childhood Development Agency (ECDA), full-day pre-school programmes must devote at least an hour to physical activity every day.

And at least half of this time must be spent outdoors, said Mr Eugene Leong, ECDA's chief executive.

NurtureSG, a task force set up to help young people adopt healthier habits, also recommended that older children be given more opportunities to get active outside formal curriculum time. For instance, they should be allowed to borrow sports equipment for games after school hours or during recess time.

Schools will also work with parents and alumni groups to organise physical activities on weekends.

 
 
 
 

In addition, the Health Promotion Board is planning a pilot programme to train students at institutes of higher learning to lead activities such as workouts for their peers.

Explaining the rationale for these changes, Minister of State for Health Lam Pin Min, who co-chairs the NurtureSG task force, said: "So often you can see young children on their handheld devices... and that has resulted in children not exercising enough and leading a more sedentary lifestyle."

One school that already encourages its pupils to get active is Xinmin Primary, where pupils can borrow sports equipment such as footballs, skipping ropes and hula hoops before school or during recess time.

Said Mr Mohamad Azreen Mohamad Kusnin, who is the school's subject head for physical education: "We feel that this sort of unstructured play builds their fundamental skills.

"It also gives them extra motivation to lead a healthy lifestyle."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 24, 2017, with the headline 'Students will spend more time on physical activities'. Print Edition | Subscribe