School outdoor programmes to go on, expert panel to advise on safety: MOE

Heng Swee Keat (image - CNA YouTube)
Heng Swee Keat (image – CNA YouTube)

Outdoor adventure and learning programmes organised by schools will continue, but more effort will be put into enhancing safety aspects, said Education Minister Heng Swee Keat in Parliament yesterday, 13 July.

Mr Heng had said that such programmes are “effective learning platforms”, and MOE will set up an advisory panel, consisting of local and international experts, to help enhance the quality and safety of these programmes.

“This panel will provide MOE with additional inputs on enhancing the quality and safety of outdoor adventure learning programmes that are conducted locally and overseas,” he was reported by media as saying.

The announcement came after an earthquake in Mount Kinabalu last month claimed 19 lives, including teachers and students from Tanjong Katong Primary School.

A total of 29 students and eight teachers from TKPS were on a leadership trekking trip to Mount Kinabalu.

“In our review of this incident, it is clear that in the planning and execution of any overseas learning journey, our schools must continue to conduct risk assessments and take all the necessary safety measures and precautions,” he said.

Mr Heng also said that the unfortunate event was an unforeseen natural disaster and could not have been prevented.

“Whether a participant perished in the earthquake depended on where he or she happened to be at the time. It made no difference whether the participant was a child or adult, novice or experienced mountaineer,” he said.

Nevertheless, schools will not be allowed to organise student trips to Mount Kinabalu for the time being.

Malaysian authorities are also currently assessing the suitability for Mount Kinabalu to be opened for adventure activities, following the earthquake.

Adapted from media reports.