Channel NewsAsia

Overseas school trip safety under spotlight after S Korea ferry tragedy

The South Korean ferry tragedy has cast the spotlight on measures the government and travel agencies in Singapore have in place to ensure the safety of students on overseas school trips.

SINGAPORE: Following the South Korean ferry tragedy, trips for primary school students in the country have been cancelled or postponed.

The vessel was carrying 476 people, mostly high school students, bound for a holiday island when it capsized and sank on April 16.

This has cast the spotlight on measures the government and travel agencies in Singapore have in place to ensure the safety of students on overseas school trips.

CTC Travel has been organising overseas school trips for more than 10 years.

Every year, it handles more than 120 school tours in May and June; as well as some 100 tours during the end-of-year holidays.

There are about 30 students on each tour.

Tour guides and leaders need to have five years of experience, and leaders must have completed a professional emergency aid course.

The agency also distributes handbooks and conducts talks to help students and their parents better understand the conditions in the destination countries.

CTC Travel’s travel manager for marketing and public relations, Kelly Toh, said: "For example, how they should react if they are caught in a typhoon or an earthquake. Training before the trip is important as we live in Singapore, where there are no natural disasters."

NATAS’ chief operating officer, Anita Tan, said: "In the past, we have conducted seminars on crisis management for our senior staff in the travel agencies. Moving forward, I think the association can do more, and we will definitely look into this area, to conduct it even for the supervisory level, as well as the rank and file."

The Education Ministry says the safety of students is of paramount importance.

For overseas learning journeys, it requires every 10 to 15 students to be accompanied by at least one teacher.

Schools organising such trips need to conduct a risk assessment and state how the teachers leading the group will handle emergencies. 

Tweet Photos, Videos and Update on this Story to  #cna