Local literature a vital part of nation-building

The Ministry of Education should be lauded for updating the literature curricula in both English and mother tongue languages taught in our schools (More local works for literature at O, A levels; June 26).

It is sad that the teaching and popularity of literature has declined in Singapore over the years just because it is not considered to be a subject that translates into monetary gains.

Local literature is vital in preserving our rich historical and cultural heritage, and we sometimes underestimate its importance in our continually evolving milieu.

The benefits of studying such literature are obvious - they enable students to identify with local themes, settings, cultures, identities, mannerisms and lifestyles as well as national issues and perspectives.

Besides being a true reflection of Singapore society, local literature has something unique to offer - it is neither mono-cultural nor monolingual and comprises poetry and fiction in our four official languages.

It also portrays Singaporean characters in Singaporean locations dealing with Singaporean issues.

With the increasing emphasis on local literature, I hope that students will feel more confident to opt for local texts in exams.

We should also cherish and support our writers, poets and artists. Their work is just as vital in the building of a nation as the work of those who practise more prosaic trades.

Greater participation in the local literary scene will also give Singapore greater clout and enable our literary and arts scene to be more active, both locally and overseas.

My hope is that local literature will gain more traction as we evolve into a more gracious society.

V. Subramaniam (Dr)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 03, 2018, with the headline 'Local literature a vital part of nation-building'. Print Edition | Subscribe