New fund to help students learn Malay language and culture

The fund will benefit about 300 local schools which offer the Malay language programme.
The fund will benefit about 300 local schools which offer the Malay language programme. PHOTO: MINISTRY OF EDUCATION

SINGAPORE - The Malay Language Learning and Promotion Committee (MLLPC), under the Ministry of Education (MOE), launched a Cultural Performance Exposure Fund (CPEF) on Thursday (March 16) to boost local students' interest in learning the Malay language.

The fund will benefit about 300 local schools which offer the Malay language programme. These schools comprise mainstream primary and secondary schools, junior colleges as well as the Millennia Institute.

Each school can apply to CPEF for $2,500 every year through MLLPC's website.

Dr Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim, Chairman of MLLPC and Parliamentary Secretary for Education, said he hopes the fund will "promote an appreciation of the Malay community's cultural heritage" among students and allow them to "experience the use of Malay language beyond the school context".

Schools can use the money for students to attend local Malay cultural performances, which enhances the learning process.

Such performances include dances, musicals, and theatre shows - as long as they pertain to the Malay culture, said Dr Faishal who added that performances must also be of "high quality" and use "accurate Malay language".

At the launch, Mr Zafilin Abdul Hamid, Deputy Director of MOE's Mother Tongue Languages Branch, said the content of proposed performances will be reviewed with "due diligence" before MLLPC approves the schools' applications for the fund. MLLPC will have the final say on whether a performance fits these criteria.

Dr Faishal said the CPEF programme will not only benefit students but also "support the Malay cultural performing arts scene in Singapore".

Mrs Marina Yusoff, 40, creative director of performing arts company Sri Warisan, said performances which do not contain Malay dialogue, such as dances, can still be useful for students if they "incorporate symbolic movements based on Malay culture and customs".

Mr Norisham Osman, 32, a Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts student and founder of performing arts collective The Kaizen M.D, agreed that performing arts groups will receive more exposure, but added it is still contingent on schools taking their students to the performances.

MOE set up the MLLPC and Tamil Language Learning and Promotion Committee in February 2006 to "enthuse students in learning the Malay and Tamil languages, and to develop in them an abiding interest in the respective languages, literature and cultures".

zjiayi@sph.com.sg