SINGAPORE: Polytechnic students may be well on track to join Singapore's workforce, but in terms of getting ready for National Service, they still have some way to go.
"If you look at the results of polytechnic students, it hasn't been really that impressive," said Dr Isaac Lim, who manages Sports Science and Education at Temasek Polytechnic (TP). "We're averaging about 20 to 30 per cent pass among all the different polys.
"There is no structured PE (physical education) programme in polytechnics. At the same time in their third year, students are either sent out to the industry to do their internship or they are actually in school doing their major projects, and due to the constraints of time available for the students to do their own training, the results haven't been too good."
Authorities are hoping to change this, with new programmes to help pre-enlistee students improve their fitness.
Four schools - Temasek Polytechnic, ITE College East, ITE College West and Anderson Junior College - have introduced fitness programs to help get their students in shape. About 900 students have taken part so far.
Physical education teachers at these schools work with the Army Fitness Centre to prepare training routines for their students. The routines are adapted from army fitness models, and mirror the training done in actual army camps. The aim is to help students prepare better for the Individual Physical Proficiency Test (IPPT).
Temasek Polytechnic’s programme runs for four weeks, comprising of eight 30 minute long sessions. The programme includes an endurance circuit that prepares students for the push-ups and sit-ups component of the IPPT. A total of 106 third-year students took part in the pilot last year before their work attachments started.
Since then, the school says IPPT pass rates have gone up by 25 per cent.
"They (the students) have been telling us the programme is effective,” Dr Lim said. “It helps them to learn how to train themselves in terms of improving their IPPT. And also we observe students training on their own following the programme."
"It's been really intensive, but it's been really beneficial because I could really see the results as the weeks went by,” said recent Temasek Polytechnic graduate Samuel Francis. “My stamina level increased, my cardio levels increased, and even the strength training benefited me, especially during my push-ups."
"My arms are a little bit small,” added recent ITE College East graduate Syafie Abdul Aziz. “So I focus on dumbbells. And my legs are not too strong, so I had to sit on the machine and push it with my legs with weights on it. I feel much stronger after the programme. It prepares me more for my enlistment, and I'm more confident."
"We are trying to marry the best of what a school normally does and what the Army would do during National Service,” says ITE College East principal Dr Yek Tiew Ming. “We hope this will help better prepare students as well. Right now, about 50 percent of our students qualify for shorter National Service - we are trying to increase that."
Dr Yek says all three ITE Colleges will be implementing this programme over the long term. And he says the next step is to get more junior colleges and all the polytechnics on board.