Boost Chinese language standards in schools

The Singapore Government has invested in several mega projects in China, including the Suzhou Industrial Park, Tianjin Eco-City and Chongqing Connectivity Initiative.

The private sector also has its fair share of investments in China.

In addition, Singapore will be supporting China's Belt and Road Initiative.

China is leading the field in areas like cashless payment, artificial intelligence, facial recognition and big data analysis.

It is currently our largest trading partner. The United States ranks only fifth.

But even though trade with China has outpaced that with the US, our Chinese language skills have, unfortunately, not kept pace, our Special Assistance Plan programme in schools notwithstanding.

Perhaps it is time to introduce some schools which put more emphasis on the Chinese language.

During my school days in Catholic High School in the 1970s, humanities subjects such as Chinese literature, geography and China history were taught in Mandarin. It was a truly bilingual school.

A handful of schools like this would really give Mandarin in Singapore a boost and help us in our trade and business with China.

I hope our Ministry of Education can quickly find ways to boost Chinese language standards in our schools so we can communicate with our Chinese counterparts.

It will take at least 15 years for any programme to see results.

David Kong

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 27, 2017, with the headline 'Boost Chinese language standards in schools'. Print Edition | Subscribe