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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.