Ways to help Tamil thrive

I agree with Tamil language and literature teacher A. Malika that "there are no right or wrong answers in literature... If you can think critically, you can never go wrong" ("Studying Tamil texts helps them think critically, write confidently"; Aug 1).

Indeed, learning encompasses listening, reading, thinking, understanding and questioning. And the learning of Tamil is no exception.

Having read the aims of Singapore's Tamil curriculum - starting from primary school up to junior college, I am impressed that teachers here are determined to inculcate a sense of pride of being a Singaporean in students' minds.

Kudos to the Ministry of Education (MOE) for designing a well-thought-out curriculum and developing learning materials suitable for Singapore's multiculturalism. It is, indeed, a good sign that students enjoy the locally written textbooks.

Arguably, Tamil is one of the oldest living languages and the usefulness of many Tamil poems and texts of yesteryear to the world today cannot be emphasised enough.

As with other languages, Tamil has both sentimental and economic value.

It is unfortunate that - despite the dedicated efforts of MOE and the many Tamil associations here which are well supported by the Tamil media - the problem of attracting quality students at the college level continues to grow.

The language needs to be promoted not only among Singaporean Tamils, but also among the other ethnic communities, and the Tamil Language Month is a great opportunity to do just that.

While it is of paramount importance that Tamil scholars and movie stars from India participate in the programmes to celebrate the language month, the organisers must ensure that the ideas and suggestions to help Tamil grow are translated into English so that others can also gain an insight into the language.

Local interpretations of good Tamil literature into other languages, in particular English, is one of the surest ways to help Tamil thrive.

S. Ratnakumar