Projects backed by bilingualism fund grows to 34

A storybook about zoo staff rescuing an injured pangolin, children's songs and plays in Mandarin and a book festival are among the latest nine projects supported by the Lee Kuan Yew Fund for Bilingualism.

This brings the total number of proposals that the fund has supported to 34 since it started in 2011, said the Ministry of Education (MOE) yesterday.

The fund, set up by former prime minister Lee Kuan Yew to support the teaching and learning of English and mother tongue languages at pre-school level, has received more than 180 proposals so far. It launched its fifth call for proposals yesterday. The latest projects include three Mandarin plays based on children's classics - Goldilocks, The Ugly Duckling and Three Billy Goats Gruff. The first two have been presented this year, while the third will be out early next year.

The plays, which come with teachers' guides in Chinese, are scripted by bilingual theatre practitioner Danny Yeo and staged by the Singapore Repertory Theatre's The Little Company. The theatre company's executive director, Ms Charlotte Nors, said: "The essence and humour of the plays in different languages are the same. By being immersed in the language in different ways - hearing songs, watching people perform - it makes the language more fun and accessible."

Another project coming up next month is a book by zoo operator Wildlife Reserves Singapore (WRS). The book in English and Chinese is inspired by a real-life incident of zoo staff saving an injured pangolin in 2009.

It has been translated into Chinese by retired Chinese-language teacher Lim Siew Gek, and will soon be distributed to pre-schools and sold on the WRS website.

The fund is also supporting a 12-page bi-weekly Chinese publication by media company Singapore Press Holdings. It includes picture stories, local and foreign news, nursery rhymes, comics and games.

More than 70,000 copies of the publication are distributed every month to some 700 pre-schools.

Education Minister Heng Swee Keat, who also chairs the board of the fund, said the fund is making "good progress" in encouraging bilingual teaching and learning among pre-schoolers. "We are happy with the variety and quality of resources developed, which have made meaningful contributions to the pool of teaching and learning resources in Singapore," he said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 21, 2015, with the headline 'Projects backed by bilingualism fund grows to 34'. Print Edition | Subscribe