Budget debate: MOE to pilot 'modular' third-language scheme, RI to host Malay language elective programme

These schools support students through language and cultural activities such as camps and immersion initiatives. PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO

SINGAPORE - Raffles Institution will become the fourth host school for a Malay-language elective programme from next year.

The school, which is in Bishan, will join Anderson Secondary, Bukit Panjang Government High and Tanjong Katong Secondary as hosts for the Elective Programme in Malay Language for secondary schools.

These schools support students through language and cultural activities such as camps and immersion initiatives.

Students from other schools can also attend the programme, said Education Minister Chan Chun Sing at the Budget debate in Parliament on Monday (March 7).

He was responding to Dr Wan Rizal Wan Zakariah (Jalan Besar GRC) who said bilingual ability helps Singaporeans navigate across cultures.

Mr Chan added that the elective programme is one route that students can take to learn their mother tongue at a higher level.

He added that the Ministry of Education (MOE) will discontinue the Mother Tongue "B" programme from the 2024 cohort, in line with full subject-based banding (SBB).

The programme is currently offered to students in the Express and Normal (Academic) courses who have difficulties with the subject.

These students will take the language at either the G1 or G2 level in future.

Subjects in the SBB programme are taught at three general levels. G1 corresponds broadly to today's Normal Technical standard, G2 to the Normal Academic standard, and G3 to the Express standard.

MOE will also pilot a new third-language programme which will be done through modules that can "stack" up to a certificate, Mr Chan said.

He added that the programme will give students confidence to venture beyond Singapore, and that MOE will collaborate with partners to offer the programme, starting with one or two of the existing languages offered by MOE for third-language programmes.

MOE currently offers languages such as Arabic and Bahasa Indonesia, as well as special programmes in Chinese and Malay .

It also offers foreign languages such as French, German, Japanese and Spanish.

MOE also wants every school to have an overseas partnership, Mr Chan added, saying that currently, around two-thirds of schools have already established one.

He said: "This facilitates more student exchanges, so that our students broaden their horizons and learn about different cultures.

"While the exchanges have been virtual because of Covid-19, technology allows our students and their overseas peers to still learn, play and celebrate special occasions together."

He added that institutes of higher learning will continue to work towards the target of having 70 per cent of all students attain an overseas experience, 70 per cent of which will be in Asean countries, China or India.

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