SINGAPORE: A council has been formed to spearhead the development of Singapore's outdoor adventure education sector by setting national standards for operations and safety, among other tasks.
Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Edwin Tong made the announcement on Thursday (Sep 22) at the inaugural Outdoor Education Conference held at Republic Polytechnic.
The 18-member Outdoor Adventure Education (OAE) Council is part of efforts to support the growing demand for outdoor activities.
An estimated 218,000 students per year take part in OAE programmes run by the Education Ministry and Outward Bound Singapore and private operators, the National Youth Council (NYC) said in a press release.
There are about 40 commercial OAE providers who run programmes for schools and also cater to thousands of others who take part in adventure activities like hiking, rock climbing, kayaking and ropes courses.
GUIDELINES FOR "TRANSPARENT, CONSISTENT, SAFE" PRACTICES
The council will oversee the development of national standards and technical references for Singapore's OAE sector, NYC said.
"These will guide specifications for the design and conduct of OAE activities, including the installation, operation, and maintenance of OAE facilities, infrastructure, and equipment," it added.
The council will also work towards recommending core competencies and professional certifications required for local instructors. This is so that "the public can be assured of transparent, consistent, and safe OAE practices across the sector".
"Experiencing the outdoors spurs our youth to grow well, equipping them with skills to meet challenges, enjoy teamwork and to embark on life with confidence," co-chair of the council, Adjunct Associate Professor Tan Lai Yong said.
He added that the council "seeks to make outdoor learning relevant, to engage stakeholders as we think safety alongside robust activities, and to craft purposeful careers for instructors and ‘outdoor’ entrepreneurs".
The council includes representatives from the Ministry of Education, Outward Bound Singapore, Outdoor Learning and Adventure Education Association, Republic Polytechnic, Sport Singapore and technical experts.
Last year, a 15-year-old student from ACS (Independent) died from multi-organ failure while participating in a high-element rope course at SAFRA Adventure Sports Centre in Yishun.
A man has been charged in relation to the teenager's death. According to his charge, he committed a rash act not amounting to culpable homicide by illegally omitting to ensure that both of the leg straps of the student's safety harness were properly buckled and adjusted before dispatching the teenager onto the rope course.
Editor's note: This story has been updated after the National Youth Council made changes to its press release.