S’pore emphasizes teaching of mother tongue languages

May 12, 2010
Singapore Democrats

This post is at least a year old. Some of the links in this post may no longer work correctly.

Xinhua News

Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Tuesday reaffirmed the emphasis on the teaching of mother tongue languages as a vital feature of Singapore’s education system.

He told a press conference that the weighting of the mother tongue language will not be reduced at the Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE) in Singapore. Instead it will be taught in a new way to cater to differing abilities and to meet the dynamic needs of the student population, local TV broadcaster Channel NewsAsia said.

There has been a huge debate among the public after recent media reports that Singapore’s Education Minister Ng Eng Hen suggests that his ministry is studying whether mother tongue languages should carry a lower weight than the other three subjects at the PSLE. Mother tongue languages are now given the same weighting- 25 percent – as English language, mathematics and science at the PSLE.

Local newspaper the Straits Times said that it has been receiving complaints from the public that a cut in the mother tongue languages weighting would lead students to take the subject less seriously.

Critics also said that de-emphasizing the mother tongue in primary school is a short-sighted move that will undermine Singapore’s bilingual edge.

Ng Eng Hen on Tuesday apologized for misleading the public, saying “This is not the case. I think I should have chosen my words more carefully and apologize for creating the wrong impression.”

Singapore has a diverse population of nearly 5 million people made up of Chinese, Malays, Indians, Asians and Caucasians.