Co-curricular activities in schools



Co-curricular activities (CCAs) are a core component of the holistic education received by youths in Singapore. CCAs inculcate values and develop competencies, and at the same time foster social integration and deepen students’ sense of belonging and responsibility towards their community and country.1 Currently, all secondary-school students are required to take part in at least one CCA, and their CCA participation can be taken into account for applications into junior colleges (JCs) and polytechnics.2 While CCAs are not compulsory in primary schools, these activities are offered and promoted by the schools.3 Originally known as extra-curricular activities (ECAs), the renaming to CCAs took place in 1999 to send a clear statement to educators, students and parents that CCAs are an integral part of education, not an add-on or option.4

Background
ECAs have a long history in Singapore’s schools. In as early as 1901, the first army cadet corps (present-day National Cadet Corps) unit was formed at the Raffles Institution, and a company of the Boys’ Brigade was set up in Anglo-Chinese Continuation School in 1933.5 While the Ministry of Education (MOE) had begun promoting ECAs in schools by the 1950s, progress was slow until the second half of the 1960s due to a lack of proper planning and organisation in the schools.6

In 1966, then Minister for Education Ong Pang Boon identified ECAs as a key means to inculcate moral values and a sense of national identity among the youth.7 To encourage ECA participation and create awareness of its importance among parents, the MOE began awarding marks to secondary-school students for ECA participation in 1967. The marks were taken into account for entry into pre-tertiary institutions and applications for bursaries and scholarships.8 The ECA Centre, which cost about S$350,000, began operations at Farrer Park in November 1968 to promote ECAs in schools and to formulate and implement ECA policies.9 There was an increased emphasis on ECAs following the centre’s opening, and tremendous efforts were made to improve students’ health and develop their talents through school activities.10

Name change
In 1999, ECAs were renamed CCAs because the word “extra” suggested that ECAs were beyond the school curriculum and hence non-essential.11 The change was therefore a significant move to drive home the message to principals, teachers, parents and students that CCAs are not add-ons, but an integral part of students’ holistic education.12

Key policy changes over time
1970s and 1980s
To produce rugged young Singaporeans to help strengthen the country’s national defence, a scheme was introduced in 1970 to make sports ECAs compulsory for all secondary-school students.13 In addition, each student was required to join either a uniformed group or society as a second ECA.14 The new ECA grading system also recognised students’ participation in special events such as the annual National Day Parade and Singapore Youth Festival.15

However, starting from 1982, the number of compulsory ECAs was reduced from two to one because the physical-education programme would be implemented during school hours. Sports ECAs were also no longer compulsory for students of these schools.16 The ECA scheme was revised to lighten the demand on students, particularly those who had also enrolled in unformed groups or brass bands as well as compulsory sports.17

In 1975, the school brass band, National Cadet Corps (NCC) and National Police Cadet Corps (NPCC) became mandatory ECAs for secondary schools.18 Schools with more than 1,000 students are required to have both NCC and NPCC units, while those with an enrolment of less than 1,000 can choose either one.19 Since then, the three CCAs have remained compulsory for secondary schools because the NCC and NPCC are national uniformed groups that expose students to national service, while the band adds ceremony and grandeur to school events.20

1990s and 2000s
Recognising the importance of ECAs in students’ all-round development, the MOE announced an ECA bonus system in 1995 that allowed students’ ECA scores to be taken into account for applications into JCs and polytechnics. Specifically, between two students with the same academic grades, the one with a higher ECA score would have the edge in gaining admission into a JC or polytechnic. The scheme, which took effect in 1998, aimed to encourage active ECA participation among secondary school students.21 In addition, to address concerns about lower ECA points attainable by sports compared with uniformed groups, students who won first to fourth positions at inter-school sports competitions were awarded additional bonus points to place them on par with members of uniformed groups.22

In 2003, the admission criteria of the National University of Singapore and Nanyang Technological University were also revised to take into account CCA points earned by applicants in JCs and polytechnics as well as during national service.23

To encourage and reward students’ continuous participation in a broad and diverse range of non-academic activities, a CCA grading scheme known as LEAPS was introduced in 2003.24 Under LEAPS, secondary-school students are awarded CCA points in five areas: leadership, enrichment, achievement, participation and service.25 With the new scheme, CCA points are awarded to participation in a wider range of activities, including community involvement and character-development programmes, as well as school events and inter-class games.26

2010s
In September 2011, the MOE announced plans to deliver a student-centric education system that focuses on values and character development. Recognising that CCAs are integral to character-building beyond classrooms, LEAPS was reviewed to give greater recognition to students who participate in a wider range of programmes – from CCAs to community-service projects.27 Consequently, an updated framework known as LEAPS 2.0 was introduced. The implementation of LEAPS 2.0 began with secondary-one students in 2014, while students in secondary two to five will continue to use the previous LEAPS framework until 2017.28 Under the earlier framework, more CCA points are awarded to leadership and achievements, such as winning medals in competitions, compared with community service. LEAPS 2.0, on the other hand, gives equal emphasis to all five categories under the framework. In addition, CCA grades in the form of A1, A2 and so forth have been replaced with a banding system comprising “Excellent”, “Good” and “Fair”.29

From January 2015, CCA coaches and instructors have to register with MOE before they can be engaged by schools for their services. The objective of the move is to help schools better assess the trainers’ suitability in conducting the activities.30

Range of CCAs
Currently, CCAs offered in schools include visual and performing arts groups, a wide range of clubs and societies, physical sports and uniformed groups.31 There are nine main uniformed groups that secondary-school students can join as CCAs: the Boys’ Brigade, Girls’ Brigade, Girl Guides, NCC, NPCC, National Civil Defence Cadet Corps, Red Cross Youth, Scouts, and St John Ambulance Brigade.32

Over time, many new CCAs such as horse-riding, synchronised swimming, fencing and archery have been introduced in both primary and secondary schools.33 On 24 September 2012, the Health Promotion Board launched a new CCA known as the Health Promotion Club (later renamed Health Nexus) in Canberra Secondary School to get young people to encourage their peers to lead healthy lifestyles.34

Currently, students who are interested in an activity not offered in their school may seek the school’s approval to create a new CCA.35 For example, windsurfing and cheerleading are two CCAs founded by students at Ang Mo Kio Secondary School.36 The move not only provides students with the opportunity to pursue their interests and ideas, but also offers a more varied range of activities available in schools.37



Author
Cheryl Sim



References
1. Ministry of Education. (2014). Co-curricular activities (CCAs). Retrieved from Ministry of Education website: http://www.moe.gov.sg/education/secondary/cca/
2. Ministry of Education. (2014). Co-curricular activities (CCAs). Retrieved from Ministry of Education website: http://www.moe.gov.sg/education/secondary/cca/; Teng, A. (2014, January 10). Overhaul to nurture all-round students. The Straits Times, p. 3. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
3. Ministry of Education. (2014). Co-curricular activities (CCAs). Retrieved from Ministry of Education website: http://www.moe.gov.sg/education/secondary/cca/
4. Ministry of Education. (2003, January 11). CCA guidelines and grading scheme for secondary schools revised: Leadership, enrichment, achievement, participation and service (LEAPS) [Press release]. Retrieved from Ministry of Education website: http://www.moe.gov.sg/media/press/2003/pr20030111a.htm; Ministry of Information, Communications and the Arts. (2003, September 2). Opening address by Mr Tharman Shanmugaratnam, Acting Minister for Education, at the opening ceremony of the CCA Conference on Tuesday, 2 Sep 2003, at 9.00 am, Suntec City Convention Centre. Retrieved from National Archives of Singapore website: http://www.nas.gov.sg/archivesonline/; Ministry of Education. (2000, January 22). Speech by RADM Teo Chee Hean, Minister for Education and Second Minister for Defence at the 41st annual general meeting of the Singapore Schools Sports Councils at the Raffles Institution on Sat 22nd January 2000 at 0930 hours. Retrieved from Ministry of Education website: http://www.moe.gov.sg/media/speeches/2000/sp22012000.htm
5. Beng, A., et al. (Eds.). (n.d.). National Cadet Corps: 105th anniversary, character-building, experiences, achievements. Singapore: National Cadet Corps, p. 26. (Call no.: RDIST 369.4095957 NAT–[LKY]); National Cadet Corps. (n.d.). National Cadet Corps: 100 years of distinction. Singapore: National Cadet Corps, p. 15. (Call no.: RSING q369.4095957 NAT); Cheong, C. (2013). Underneath the banner: The history of The Boys’ Brigade in Singapore. Singapore: Marshall Cavendish Editions, p. 36. (Call no.: RSING 267.7095957 UND)
6. Singapore. Legislative Assembly. Debates: Official report. (1956, April 12). Education policy (white paper) (Vol. 1). Singapore: [s.n.], col. 1940. (Call no.: RCLOS 328.5957 SIN); Ministry of Culture. (1979, November 16). Speech by Dr Tony Tan Keng Yam, Senior Minister of State for Education, at the National Police Cadet Corps 20th anniversary dinner held at the Silver Star Theatre Restaurant on Friday, 16 November 1979 at 7.30 pm, p. 1. Retrieved from National Archives of Singapore website: http://www.nas.gov.sg/archivesonline/
7. Ministry of Education. (2003, January 11). CCA guidelines and grading scheme for secondary schools revised: Leadership, enrichment, achievement, participation and service (LEAPS) [Press release]. Retrieved from Ministry of Education website: http://www.moe.gov.sg/media/press/2003/pr20030111a.htm
8. Ministry of Culture. (1979, November 16). Speech by Dr Tony Tan Keng Yam, Senior Minister of State for Education, at the National Police Cadet Corps 20th anniversary dinner held at the Silver Star Theatre Restaurant on Friday, 16 November 1979 at 7.30 pm, p. 2. Retrieved from National Archives of Singapore website: http://www.nas.gov.sg/archivesonline/
9. Lee, C. K. (1969, June 23). Extra-curricula: The word that put new life in schools in Singapore. The Straits Times, p. 10. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Chong, C. L. (Interviewer). (2000, May 9). Oral history interview with David Joseph [Transcript of cassette recording no. 002309/24/13, pp. 216, 219, 220]. Retrieved from National Archives of Singapore website: http://www.nas.gov.sg/archivesonline/
10. Singapore. Parliament. Parliamentary debates: Official report. (1977, March 21). Main and development estimates of Singapore for the financial year 1st April, 1977 to 31st March, 1978 (Vol. 36). Singapore: Govt. Printer, col. 1353. (Call no.: RSING 328.5957 SIN)
11. Ministry of Education. (2003, January 11). CCA guidelines and grading scheme for secondary schools revised: Leadership, enrichment, achievement, participation and service (LEAPS) [Press release]. Retrieved from Ministry of Education website: http://www.moe.gov.sg/media/press/2003/pr20030111a.htm; Ministry of Education. (2000, January 22). Speech by RADM Teo Chee Hean, Minister for Education and Second Minister for Defence at the 41st annual general meeting of the Singapore Schools Sports Councils at the Raffles Institution on Sat 22nd January 2000 at 0930 hours. Retrieved from Ministry of Education website: http://www.moe.gov.sg/media/speeches/2000/sp22012000.htm
12. Ministry of Information, Communications and the Arts. (2003, September 2). Opening address by Mr Tharman Shanmugaratnam, Acting Minister for Education, at the opening ceremony of the CCA Conference on Tuesday, 2 Sep 2003, at 9.00 am, Suntec City Convention Centre. Retrieved from National Archives of Singapore website: http://www.nas.gov.sg/archivesonline/; Ministry of Education. (2000, January 22). Speech by RADM Teo Chee Hean, Minister for Education and Second Minister for Defence at the 41st annual general meeting of the Singapore Schools Sports Councils at the Raffles Institution on Sat 22nd January 2000 at 0930 hours. Retrieved from Ministry of Education website: http://www.moe.gov.sg/media/speeches/2000/sp22012000.htm
13. Koh, J. N. S. (1987). Extra-curricular activities in schools: Getting the right perspective. Teaching and Learning, 7(2), 57–66, 57. Retrieved from National Institute of Education website: http://hdl.handle.net/10497/1943; Tan, J. (1981, June 7). P. E. fails to toughen boys. The Straits Times, p. 1; Sports now a must for all secondary children. (1970, June 22). The Straits Times, p. 7. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
14. Sports now a must for all secondary children. (1970, June 22). The Straits Times, p. 7. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
15. Sports now a must for all secondary children. (1970, June 22). The Straits Times, p. 7. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Ministry of Culture. (1979, November 16). Speech by Dr Tony Tan Keng Yam, Senior Minister of State for Education, at the National Police Cadet Corps 20th anniversary dinner held at the Silver Star Theatre Restaurant on Friday, 16 November 1979 at 7.30 pm, p. 2. Retrieved from National Archives of Singapore website: http://www.nas.gov.sg/archivesonline/
16. Emphasis on ECA was right, says Ho. (1985, January 7). The Straits Times, p. 11; Tan, J. (1981, June 7). P. E. fails to toughen boys. The Straits Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Koh, J. N. S. (1987). Extra-curricular activities in schools: Getting the right perspective. Teaching and Learning, 7(2), 57–66, 59. Retrieved from National Institute of Education website: http://hdl.handle.net/10497/1943
17. Tan, J. (1981, June 7). P. E. fails to toughen boys. The Straits Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
18. Koh, J. N. S. (1987). Extra-curricular activities in schools: Getting the right perspective. Teaching and Learning, 7(2), 57–66. Retrieved from http://hdl.handle.net/10497/1943; Making ECA a must in all schools. (1975, April 12). The Straits Times, p. 23. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
19. Making ECA a must in all schools. (1975, April 12). The Straits Times, p. 23. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
20. Chung Cheng High School (Main). (2013). Co-curricular activities. Retrieved from Chung Cheng High School (Main) website: http://www.chungchenghighmain.moe.edu.sg/cos/o.x?c=/wbn/pagetree&func=view&rid=1156118; Teo, E. (2011, January 10). Meet your CCA match. The Straits Times, p. 10/11. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
21. ECA bonus from 1998. (1995, January 7). The New Paper, p. 2. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Ministry of Information and the Arts. (1995, April 29). Speech by Mr Lee Yock Suan, Minister for Education, at the National Police Cadet Corps (NPCC) Day Parade at the Police Academy on Saturday, 29 April 1995 at 5.00 pm, p. 2. Retrieved from National Archives of Singapore website: http://www.nas.gov.sg/archivesonline/
22. Singh, S. (1996, January 21). Is the new ECA incentive plan fair on school athletes? The Straits Times, p. 31; Inter-school sports success to count for JC, poly entry. (1997, January 11). The New Paper, p. 22; Mathl, B. (1997, January 22). Revised ECA grading scheme welcomed by teachers, students. The Straits Times, p. 35. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
23. Nirmala, M. (1999, July 14). New criteria for university entry in 2003. The Straits Times, p. 1; CCA points to help students enter university. (2002, January 13). The Straits Times, p. 27; Low, E. (2001, August 7). Bonus points from NS for varsity entry. The Business Times, p. 17. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
24. Quek, T. (2003, January 12). Marks for wider range of activities. The Straits Times, p. 4. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Ministry of Education. (2003, January 11). CCA guidelines and grading scheme for secondary schools revised: Leadership, enrichment, achievement, participation and service (LEAPS) [Press release]. Retrieved from Ministry of Education website: http://www.moe.gov.sg/media/press/2003/pr20030111a.htm
25. Ministry of Education. (2003, January 11). CCA guidelines and grading scheme for secondary schools revised: Leadership, enrichment, achievement, participation and service (LEAPS) [Press release]. Retrieved from Ministry of Education website: http://www.moe.gov.sg/media/press/2003/pr20030111a.htm
26. Quek, T. (2003, January 12). Marks for wider range of activities. The Straits Times, p. 4. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
27. Ng, G. (2011, September 23). New focus on values in key education shift / MOE plans review of CCA grading. My Paper. Retrieved from Factiva via NLB’s eResources website: http://eresources.nlb.gov.sg/; Teng, A. (2014, January 10). Overhaul to nurture all-round students. The Straits Times, p. 3. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
28. Ministry of Education. (2014, January 9). Updated Leaps 2.0 to better support students’ holistic development [Press release]. Retrieved from Ministry of Education website: http://www.moe.gov.sg/media/press/2014/01/updated-leaps-to-better-support-students-holistic-development.php
29. Teng, A. (2014, January 10). Overhaul to nurture all-round students. The Straits Times, p. 3. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
30. Ministry of Education. (2014, March 13). Registration of instructors offering co-curricular and enrichment activities to schools [Press release]. Retrieved from Ministry of Education website: http://www.moe.gov.sg/media/press/2014/03/registration-of-instructors-offering-co-curricular-and-enrichment-activities-to-schools.php
31. Ministry of Education. (2014). Co-curricular activities (CCAs). Retrieved from Ministry of Education website: http://www.moe.gov.sg/education/secondary/cca/
32. Chia, S. (2012, April 15). Uniformed groups face stiff competition. The Straits Times, p. 22. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
33. Tan, A. (2010, February 6). Trotting out an unusual CCA. The Straits Times, p. 1; Chia, J. M. (2010, April 2). They’d rather sync than swim. The Straits Times, p. 6; Wong, J. (2011, February 9). Fencing, archery finally get CCA status. The Straits Times, p. 10. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
34. Goh, S. T. (2012, September 25). New CCA to promote healthy living among youth. The Straits Times, p. 4. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
35. Ministry of Education. (2014). Co-curricular activities (CCAs). Retrieved from Ministry of Education website: http://www.moe.gov.sg/education/secondary/cca/
36. Chia, S. (2012, April 15). Uniformed groups face stiff competition. The Straits Times, p. 22. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
37. Ministry of Education. (2014). Co-curricular activities (CCAs). Retrieved from Ministry of Education website: http://www.moe.gov.sg/education/secondary/cca/




The information in this article is valid as at 7 November 2014 and correct as far as we are able to ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic.

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