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    Mar 31, 2016

    Coney Island expansion will triple OBS student intake

    THE new Outward Bound Singapore (OBS) campus will occupy about 10 per cent of Coney Island's land area and the number of students who will go through OBS will triple to 45,000 every year by 2020.

    Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu announced this yesterday afternoon during a visit to the OBS campus on Pulau Ubin.

    The area occupied by OBS @ Coney is equivalent to 12ha, or about 14½ football pitches. It will be situated on the south-eastern end of Coney Island, close to the bridge that connects the island to Pasir Ris.

    The rest of the island will remain open to the public.

    "Every youth will have an opportunity to go through an OBS camp at least once in their schooling years," said Ms Fu, adding that the campus will be nature friendly and co-exist with other visitors of Coney Island.

    She said all OBS participants should develop "a keen sense of how the environment supports us, and what we can do to keep it lush and thriving".

    "We are looking around the world now for ideas for the most advanced facilities and programmes that will challenge participants either individually or as part of a team."

    Pointing to the possibility of recent terrorist attacks in Jakarta and Brussels happening in Singapore, Ms Fu stressed the need to build up youth to work as a team, with ruggedness in their minds and bodies.

    She said: "Our future remains uncertain. We live in a more diverse society. We face the threats of terrorism. What happens in Brussels or Jakarta recently could well happen here.

    "When the going gets tough, we will be resilient and hardy enough to overcome it together, to bounce back."

    Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat announced in his Budget speech last week that OBS @ Coney will be built at a cost of $250 million. This includes infrastructure costs of $130 million, "first mover" costs of $45 million for the installation of basic utilities, and $75 million for increased manpower, programming and equipment.

    The current Pulau Ubin campus is about 9ha. The Government spent $250,000 on the conversion of a holiday camp into the first OBS in 1967. In 1995, a second campsite was added at a cost of $25 million.

    Currently, about 14,000 students go through OBS every year. When the Coney Island expansion is completed in 2020, this number is expected to triple to 45,000.

    OBS @ Coney aims to be "rustic and blend in as much as possible with the surroundings", Mr Heng said in his Budget speech. Its connectivity to the mainland will allow OBS to conduct more programmes and expeditions around Singapore, using the country's green and blue spaces.