Parliament: 350 pre-schools to offer Malay and Tamil language classes by 2022

Tamil language teacher Aisha Banu with a class of pre-schoolers at the My First Skool centre in Yishun.
Tamil language teacher Aisha Banu with a class of pre-schoolers at the My First Skool centre in Yishun. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - More pre-schools will offer Tamil and Malay language classes, under a move to help children build a strong foundation for bilingual learning.

By 2022, about 350 anchor operator pre-schools will offer these classes, up from about 200 of these pre-schools currently. Anchor operator pre-schools receive government grants in return for meeting certain quality criteria and not raising fees beyond a certain level.

Currently, the three Mother Tongue Languages (MTL) including Chinese are offered at all Ministry of Education (MOE) kindergartens; by 2023, there will be 50 of these kindergartens.

The plans were announced by Senior Parliamentary Secretary Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim ( Social and Family Development and Education) in Parliament on Wednesday (March 7).

He said: "To support the sector's growth, we may need over 1,000 more MTL teachers by 2020. The Government has been supporting more locals to become MTL pre-school teachers. Since 2016, polytechnic students can pursue specialised MTL tracks."

Pre-school educators welcome the move for more pre-schools to offer Tamil and Malay.

Ms Nabilah Abdul Fitrey, 25, who teaches Malay, said: "Our Malay mother tongue language programme helps the children to build a strong foundation to prepare them well for progression to primary school and beyond. It also plays an important part in their learning and appreciation of the Malay culture."


Ms Yogeswari Raghavan, 40, executive Principal of PCF Sparkletots in Sembawang and Admiralty, said: "Many pre-schoolers don't converse in Tamil regularly at home, thus learning mother tongue at PCF Sparkletots creates a platform for them to practise the language.

"Through the programme, the children have become less afraid of speaking Tamil as it helps to build their language confidence."

Correction note: In an earlier version of this story, we said that there will be 50 additional MOE kindergartens by 2023 instead of 50 MOE kindergartens in total by 2023. We are sorry for the error.