OBS course for S'pore secondary students resumes, cut to 2 days and no height-based activities

Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Edwin Tong participating in an inflatable rowboat expedition with students on March 19, 2021.
Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Edwin Tong participating in an inflatable rowboat expedition with students on March 19, 2021.PHOTO: EDWIN TONG/FACEBOOK

SINGAPORE - After being suspended for more than a year, the outdoor adventure learning programme known as the Ministry of Education-Outward Bound Singapore (MOE-OBS) Challenge has resumed.

The programme, targeted at secondary school students, used to be a five-day residential course. It is now a two-day non-residential course.

Since the course resumed on Feb 16, 15 schools have completed it.

The redesigned MOE-OBS Challenge is jointly organised with the National Youth Council (NYC). Participating students get to do things like kayaking in coastal waters off Pulau Ubin.

The programme was initially suspended in January 2020 due to the outbreak of Covid-19, and has resumed with new safe management measures such as temperature screening at gantries, and individually served food, said the authorities.

The course has also been restructured in the light of the MOE's suspension of height-based activities earlier this year after the death of a 15-year-old. The Anglo-Chinese School (Independent) student died after falling from a height at Safra Yishun on Feb 3.

In a joint statement, the NYC and OBS said height-based activities would be replaced with land or sea activities like trekking or kayaking, and team-based problem solving challenges.

"The two-day course will continue to provide students with an invaluable opportunity to learn and reflect on important values such as resilience, empathy and social responsibility," they said.

Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Edwin Tong said: "With many activities now conducted online, outdoor activities with safe management measures provide important shared learning experiences, such as overcoming challenges together. In the process, our youth will develop qualities such as resilience, empathy and teamwork, which are all the more relevant in the amidst the pandemic."

Mr Tong, also Second Minister for Law, participated in part of the challenge on Friday (March 19), along with Secondary 3 students from Damai Secondary and Queenstown Secondary schools.

NYC chief executive officer David Chua said: "Despite Covid-19, we must maintain a long-term view of building up the character, confidence and cohesiveness of our young Singaporeans.

"This would help Singapore stay relevant and competitive in a future that holds many twists and turns... I am so excited to see our youth back in the outdoors with OBS again."

The MOE-OBS Challenge began running in 2017. More than 38,500 students have since participated in it.