New mother tongue curriculum to be launched in secondary schools from 2021

Education Minister Ong Ye Kung visiting the Tamil Language Learning and Promotion Committee's booth at the 8th Mother Tongue Languages Symposium on Aug 25, 2019, with Senior Minister of State for Education Chee Hong Tat and Senior Parliamentary Secre
Education Minister Ong Ye Kung visiting the Tamil Language Learning and Promotion Committee's booth at the 8th Mother Tongue Languages Symposium on Aug 25, 2019, with Senior Minister of State for Education Chee Hong Tat and Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Education Low Yen Ling.ST PHOTO: TIMOTHY DAVID

In two years' time, a revised mother tongue curriculum that aims to boost national identity will be launched in secondary schools.

In the same year, primary school pupils who find learning their mother tongues challenging will receive more support in the subject, following a successful pilot scheme, Education Minister Ong Ye Kung said yesterday at the 8th Mother Tongue Languages Symposium, an annual event co-organised by the Ministry of Education (MOE).

Announcing the changes to the secondary school mother tongue curriculum, Senior Minister of State for Education Chee Hong Tat said it would have greater infusion of cultural knowledge, and use contemporary materials, stories and IT-enabled learning.

"Beyond learning the language, we want our students to understand Singapore and understand the world through the culture embedded in our MTLs (mother tongue languages)," he said.

"Not only will this contribute to a stronger sense of national and cultural identity, it will also provide a world-view that complements the perspectives of English-speaking societies, allowing us to better understand global developments and connect with different parts of the world."

The revised secondary mother tongue curriculum will be rolled out progressively, starting with the Secondary 1 cohort in 2021.

Acknowledging the widely varied ability to learn languages, Mr Ong, the guest of honour at the symposium, said a support programme providing differentiated instruction will be introduced to Primary 3 pupils in all schools in 2021, and extended to Primary 4 pupils in 2022.

 
 
 

This followed a successful pilot by the MOE last year in 14 schools for Chinese language, and five schools each for Malay and Tamil.

Mr Ong said the feedback about the pilot strengthened the ministry's conviction that it was possible to help those who think it is impossible, or extremely difficult, to learn their mother tongue.

"We can support them to pick up the language with confidence and joy," he said.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on August 25, 2019, with the headline 'More help for pupils who struggle with mother tongue'. Print Edition | Subscribe