Let CCAs be about enjoyment, not performance

The concerns about co-curricular activities (CCAs) contributing to children's stress, as raised by Madam Grace Chua Siew Hwee ("Don't let CCAs contribute to children's stress"; Feb 2) are of increasing significance.

While Ms Maria Loh Mun Foong may have meant well in calling for holistic assessment of children ("For holistic assessment, CCAs need higher weighting"; Jan 27), we need to take cognizance of the reality of how the introduction of CCA points for the Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE) may be interpreted or even exploited.

Unleashed into a sea of kiasu parents and enterprising enrichment providers, the introduction of CCA points for the PSLE may result in unintended adverse consequences.

Children may be pigeonholed and trained from a very young age in a particular sport or form of the arts, whether or not they have genuine interest or talent.

This is already an issue of concern in the pursuit of a coveted spot via the Direct School Admission scheme.

Will higher weighting given to CCAs truly be in the interest of a child? Or will it be another source of stress, leading to children burning candles at both ends and ultimately bearing the consequences of burnout and/or struggle with studies?

In view of our society's highly competitive environment, the likely outcome will be the latter.

It is timely at this juncture to ask what CCAs should truly be about and whether the way forward should be to place less instead of more weighting on them.

CCAs should be construed as opportunities for students to learn new skills or try out different activities to enrich their lives, without the pressure of getting into the school team and winning awards in competitions.

We live in a society where there are children as young as those in primary school suffering from stress and sleep deprivation.

Giving CCAs more weight will not help the state of things.

What our children need is time for free play, to think, imagine and create purely for the joy of it, to read for leisure, bond with family and to sleep and rest.

Let's give our children what they truly need. The results will be priceless and worthwhile, and, in the long run, will be worth more than a few PSLE points.

Tan Li Hua (Ms)