Standards and Practice for K-12 Physical Education in Singapore: Although Physical Education Is Required at All Grade Levels in Singapore, Physical Educators There Still Battle Marginalization of Their Subject

Article excerpt

To understand and appreciate the current standards and practices of physical education in Singapore, a brief review of history is warranted. Before 1984, physical education teachers were trained through course electives offered at the Teachers' Training College; however, only "Certificates in Education," rather than academic degrees, were awarded. In 1984, the College of Physical Education (CPE) was established. This came about mainly through the efforts of the Ministry of Defense (which was concerned about the fitness levels of young men, who were required to enlist in military service at the age of 19), and with the blessing of the Ministry of Education (MOE). For the first time, specialized physical educators were prepared in a two-year diploma program designed for secondary schools. In 1991 the CPE merged with the Institute of Education to become the National Institute of Education (NIE), the education wing of Nanyang Technological University. In this significant move, the CPE's name was changed to the School of Physical Education (SPE), one of four schools at the NIE. At the start of the millennium, the SPE was renamed the Physical Education and Sport Sciences (PESS) academic group. At present, PESS offers a diploma in physical education (2-year program), a four-year degree (B.Sc. Ed. Specialization Course) in physical education and sports science, as well as master's and doctoral programs in pedagogy, sports studies, and exercise science. All of the students enrolled in the diploma or degree programs follow the pedagogy track and become certified to teach physical education at the primary school through pre-university level. As MOE employees, NIE students receive tuition and a generous monthly stipend to study at the university. In return, students are contractually bound to teach for a period of three to five years in government-sponsored schools selected by the MOE. After they have completed their obligatory period of teaching, they may either continue in the education service (provided their teaching evaluations are satisfactory), or they may pursue a different career path without financial penalty.

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Everyone wishing to pursue education as a career in Singapore must enroll at NIE because it is currently the only teacher education institution in Singapore. Due to intense competition, students entering the degree program typically rank in the 70th percentile or higher for graduating pupils throughout the country. The recent relocation to a state-of-the-art facility provides PESS with excellent sport venues, which include basketball and handball courts, a gymnasium for gymnastics, a weight-training room, a swimming pool, tennis courts, an artificial hockey pitch, squash and racketball courts, and a dance studio. The computer, exercise physiology, biomechanics, and motor-learning laboratories have first-rate equipment and experienced technicians to facilitate faculty teaching and research. With ample facilities, talented students, and an international faculty of 20, NIE is an institution well suited for the preparation of physical education teachers.

Standards in Physical Education

Singapore is both a very small and very young country. Established in 1965, it is a 27-mile-long island city-state of four million people. It consists of 177 primary schools (grades 1-6), 163 secondary schools (grades 7-10), 17 pre-universities (equivalent to grades 11 and 12), and a national "Sports School" (a specialized independent school that is under the auspices of the Ministry of Community Development and Sport). A national curriculum (NC) guides instruction in all subjects, including physical education. A Physical Education Syllabus Committee has been formed and tasked with reviewing the physical education curriculum and revising the standards for implementation in 2006. The committee consists of the heads of various physical education departments, teachers, university faculty, school principals, and MOE personnel. …