Let private outdoor educators use public spaces too

As an outdoor education provider, I am alarmed that Outward Bound Singapore (OBS) is venturing onto the mainland and is using public spaces for its activities (OBS to extend activities to new areas; Aug 18).

I am concerned about the fate of the industry.

Outdoor education operators have long been denied access to Coney Island as well as other areas of mainland Singapore for their activities, or have had to face long processes to get approval for use. Yet, OBS can use these spaces.

I suggest that these land and water spaces be opened up to other private operators too, to promote the outdoor education agenda.

This would ease the demands placed on OBS and allow schools to diversify their outdoor education choices.

Private outdoor education operators are small and medium-sized enterprises. They contribute to the gross domestic product, create jobs for freelancers and help build resilience in our young through their programmes.

Denying them the same privileges OBS enjoys creates a skewed market and gives the impression of a government-granted monopoly.

I hope the Government will consider the simple solution of a partnership with private and public operators.

It is important for the Ministry of Education and Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth to recognise the impact private operators have on the outdoor education ecosystem.

Embracing fair competition will allow for the growth of the industry, good economies of scale, and benefits to the consumers and young participants.

Delane Lim

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 21, 2017, with the headline 'Let private outdoor educators use public spaces too'. Print Edition | Subscribe