Greater support for Sports School athletes on the way, says MCCY Minister Lawrence Wong

Singapore Sports School (SSP) paddler Koen Pang. Besides the traditional four-year O-Level examination route, SSP students can also opt for the International Baccalaureate Diploma, which began last year, or the Republic Polytechnic-SSP Diploma progra
Singapore Sports School (SSP) paddler Koen Pang. Besides the traditional four-year O-Level examination route, SSP students can also opt for the International Baccalaureate Diploma, which began last year, or the Republic Polytechnic-SSP Diploma programme. -- PHOTO: THE NEW PAPER

SINGAPORE'S future elite athletes can look forward to better support, which has been put in place as a result of the SEA Games returning to the country's shores in June.

These range from sports science education to a longer pathway for prospective student-athletes at the Singapore Sports School (SSP), which is in the midst of a review.

Minister of Culture, Community and Youth Lawrence Wong revealed that a key proposal being considered is to extend the SSP curriculum from four to six years to better equip its students in sports and studies.

"Today they go through a four-year system before taking a national exam, which can be quite disruptive for their training," Mr Wong said on the sidelines of The Straits Times Athlete of the Year ceremony at the Raffles Hotel on Thursday.

"The idea is to have six-year programme that will allow them to train hard, study hard and also focus on sports."

Besides the traditional four-year O-Level examination route, SSP students can also opt for the International Baccalaureate Diploma, which began last year, or the Republic Polytechnic-SSP Diploma programme.

Mr Wong added that the review, which will be be released in the second half of the year, will also look into how the school can work with polytechnics and universities, both at home and abroad, to give SSP students more academic options.

At the 2013 SEA Games, 15 of Team Singapore's 34 gold medals came from SSP student-athletes and alumni.

The SSP, since its first intake in 2004, has always been one of many choices for student-athletes. Unlike mainstream schools, the SSP allows for the academic curriculum to be tailored around a student-athlete's training and competition commitments.

For instance, 48 elite student-athletes are on the School Within A School scheme. This is a customised programme in which students train longer than usual during the day, with schoolwork at night.

nsanjay@sph.com.sg