MOE cancels immersion trips to France after terrorist attacks

Armed police officers patrolling near the Eiffel Tower, in the aftermath of the Paris attacks, on Nov 14, 2015.
Armed police officers patrolling near the Eiffel Tower, in the aftermath of the Paris attacks, on Nov 14, 2015. PHOTO: REUTERS

SINGAPORE - The Ministry of Education (MOE) has cancelled two immersion trips to France after last Friday's terrorist attacks which killed 129 people.

A spokesman for MOE said: "(We) have been informed by the school in France that they have been advised by their authorities to put all student exchange programmes on hold for the time being.

"In organising overseas learning journeys, safety and security are of paramount importance."

The two trips, which were supposed to take place this month, involved about 30 students from various schools.

Meanwhile, all the 70 Singapore Management University's (SMU) students currently on exchange in universities in France are staying put and have not requested to withdraw from their international exchange programme. All have been accounted for and are confirmed safe.

"SMU is in contact with all our partner universities in Paris and will take their advice, as well as that of the Singapore Consulate in France," said an SMU spokesman. "We will continue to stay in regular contact with our students."

Meanwhile, travel agencies that The Straits Times spoke to said they have not received any cancellations for trips to Europe or France, but are keeping an eye on the situation.

They also advised customers to buy travel insurance and to register with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in case of any emergency.

Dynasty Travel said it has received less than 10 calls from about 300 customers who are going to Paris during the school holidays and there have been no cancellations. A spokesman added: "We are monitoring the situation and will adjust the tour programmes if the need arises."

ASA Travel and Chan Brothers Travel also said they have had no cancellations. A spokesman for the latter added that it is also keeping in touch with its European counterpart for information.

A Hong Thai Travel Services spokesman said it will contact tourists departing for Paris this week to ask if they want to opt for another city instead.

A CTC Travel spokesman said tour groups heading to Central Europe this month and next will be avoiding Paris: "Based on the current situation, we have made some revisions and rerouted our itineraries. Safety is paramount."

Aquarium diver Bay Lirene, who will spend two days in Paris next week as part of a 19-day trip to Europe, is not too worried. "(The) situation should be stable after the incident, as officials are more vigilant now," said the 28-year-old. "I will still visit the highlight attractions in Paris, but definitely not stay out too late at night."

limyihan@sph.com.sg