Thursday, February 10, 2011

STATE OF CHESS IN SCHOOLS

After performing a search on the MOE's School Information Service on the schools offering Chess as a CCA, my findings are:

Primary Schools      - 36 out of 182 
Secondary Schools - 23 out of 153 
Tertiary Institutions -   9 out of 12   

What seems worrysome is that for a useful board game such as chess, the representation rate at primary and secondary level is max 20%. Surely this is cause for alarm. Although looking at the number of participation schools from the 2010 National Individuals, which stands at 145 and having 1280 participants, there could have been schools which have no official Chess CCA but have students signing up individually. There are also several institutions outside the MOE school system competing as well. 

Someone raised the point about why Chess is not looked upon as a sport but a Club and Society activity? Has this distinction impacted the popularity of chess in schools? Should chess-players be penalised to take up another CCA just to fulfil the requirements for CCA points to be awarded? I welcome your ideas and comments.

4 comments:

  1. John,

    Thanks for collecting the data. Looks like Chess interest is significant at the student level, but less at the school level. It's good that a platform exists to build on, rather than having to build from scratch.

    I think it is important to understand how the MOE and schools arrive at their decision, e.g. who the decision-makers are, their decision criteria, push/pull factors, challenges, review cycle, etc. Maybe, they do face valid difficulties which the experts (like you) can answer or solve easily?

    Seek their views on what is needed to change the decision, and work from there. It's probably easier this way than to speculate.

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  2. I understand that in the view of the MOE a sport CCA must involve a physical activity hence chess being classified as a "club & societies" CCA.

    I also understand that the MOE gives autonomy to schools to decide what CCAs to have in the school and that due to constraints of resources etc. many schools will choose a few CCAs only. This is evident from the schools websites which i have visited.

    I am pleasantly surprised that so many schools offer chess as a CCA. That is actually encouraging as I look at the glass as half full. The question is how do we maintain this rather high 20% penetration and how do we then upgrade the standard of chess play in these schools.

    It is something that the SCF as the official NSA must think about. I believe that if the 20% of schools offering chess as a CCA are given support, then the other schools will also become interested.

    The question then is how do we as chess enthusiasts and parents give the necessary support. If the chess players in these schools are guided and trained well then I believe that there will be a sufficiently large pool of players that can represent Singapore at various levels.

    Of course we have to support the SCF in guiding and supporting these schools. The question to be asked is how will this be implemented by the SCF. Perhaps somebody has to ask the SCF these questions as it is only right that the chess governing body take the lead on this.

    Does anybody else have a different view?

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  3. Strange, how much more physical activity does bowling,archery,air rifle and snooker has over chess?

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  4. Be assured that the MOE has a clear view that Chess is not a sport CCA. I think changing the MOE's view about Chess as a sport CCA, is best left to another day.

    With the information that John has gathered, I think it is time for some concrete plans to be formulated by the SCF to help these schools grow the sport in their schools.

    I understand the MOE has come up with a new program to make sport CCAs more accessible to more students and to allow more students to compete and not just the students who are selected to represent the school. I think the idea is that if more students are allowed to take part in competitions it would motivate them to keep playing the sport and to not only have the selected few enjoy the thrill of competition. I personally believe it is a good idea.

    The SCF already does this with the various competitions it organizes where not only the school players but any child may take part in a chess competition.

    So once again I ask the question, what plans should the SCF have to support the 20% of schools with a chess CCA and how can we help the SCF?

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