Close of a chapter but passion still writ large

Ms Peggy Pao-Keerthi Pei Yu, who won the Angus Ross Prize in 2002, said the win "is testament to the immense passion and dedication of our humanities tutors". Teachers and past winners said Singapore's success may be due in part to the use of English
Ms Peggy Pao-Keerthi Pei Yu, who won the Angus Ross Prize in 2002, said the win "is testament to the immense passion and dedication of our humanities tutors". Teachers and past winners said Singapore's success may be due in part to the use of English as a first language here.PHOTO: ATTORNEY- GENERAL'S CHAMBERS

Educators say love for literature remains even as Angus Ross Prize is discontinued

The prestigious Angus Ross Prize may be no more, but educators and students said the love for literature remains.

"For all enthusiasts of literature, the winner of the prize was someone who we could cheer for and celebrate with," said Mrs Geetha Creffield, head of department for arts at Anglo-Chinese Junior College.

"For the vast number of students who read literature in school, it is far more important that they are engaged in their learning and have acquired a profound love of books and reading."

She said that for many literature students, the goal is not a prize, but "the joy in being able to encounter brilliant fictional worlds that challenge the mind, wring the heart and create a love for language".

STILL MAGICAL

The removal of the Angus Ross Prize does little to change the magic of literature that students encounter each day in different classrooms across Singapore.

MRS GEETHA CREFFIELD, head of department for arts at Anglo-Chinese Junior College.

She added: "The removal of the Angus Ross Prize does little to change the magic of literature that students encounter each day in different classrooms across Singapore."

Meridian Junior College principal Lim Yan Hock described the award as just icing on the cake.

"I don't think students are bothered at all by the award being discontinued," he said.

Teachers and past winners said Singapore's success may be due in part to the use of English as a first language here and the teachers' focus on getting students to think beyond the text.

Mr Mark Tan, education consultant of the English department at Hwa Chong Institution, is glad the effort put in by Singapore students and teachers was recognised over the years. "Any recognition of literary merit is welcomed as we need to constantly push for the subject's maturation in Singapore," he said.

However, Mr Tan added: "As the literature in English examination is largely essay-based and subject to a degree of subjectivity, it would be difficult to aim to write what would constitute 'the world's best essay' and actually aim to win the prize."

Ms Peggy Pao-Keerthi Pei Yu, who took the 2001 exam when she was a student in then Raffles Junior College, said the achievement "is testament to the immense passion and dedication of our humanities tutors", such as her former English literature tutor Geoffrey Purvis.

The public sector lawyer, who won the prize in 2002, added: "But we shouldn't need such accolades to remember that these teachers have contributed greatly by nurturing generations of intellectually curious and analytical young Singaporeans."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 06, 2017, with the headline 'Close of a chapter but passion still writ large'. Print Edition | Subscribe