SINGAPORE - Mr Manogaran Suppiah, 61, learnt Tamil only from a tutor at home for three years when he was in primary school.
But that did not deter the Anderson Serangoon Junior College principal and chairman of the Tamil Language Council from honing his interest in the language.
Today, he believes that the language has a more vibrant future here, thanks to the efforts of a high-level committee. His views, and that of other educators and community leaders, are featured in a book published by the Tamil Language Learning and Promotion Committee (TLLPC) to mark its 15th year.
Titled Naavil Thamizh Naalum Thamizh (Speak Tamil, Speak it Everyday) the book was launched at the Umar Pulavar Tamil Language Centre on Friday (April 16) by Minister for Communications and Information S. Iswaran, who chaired the TLLPC from 2006 to 2016. Also at the event was the current TLLPC chairman, MP for Sembawang GRC Vikram Nair.
The book includes a foreword by Senior Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam, and highlights the work of stakeholders such as educators, young people and members of the community. It also details future plans of TLLPC.
Speaking at the event, which was livestreamed, Mr Iswaran said that for Tamil to continue thriving as a living language in Singapore, lessons for students should be designed impactfully to cultivate a lifelong love for it.
He added that the recent announcement by the Ministry of Education about introducing Higher Tamil language in Primary 3 and 4 will also create opportunities for students to sharpen their language proficiency and deepen understanding from a young age.
Said senior teacher Baskaran Ganga, 47, from Chua Chu Kang Secondary School: "I am very proud of 15 years of TLLPC. The Government provides us huge financial support to run programmes for students."
The book launch also included cultural and dance performances and a poetry recital by student Ahila Anbazhagan, 17, from Yishun Innova Junior College.
She said: "(Young people) must start speaking Tamil from home as practice makes perfect, and cultivate a habit of reading literature books. It is extremely important to speak Tamil as it is an aspect of our identity in a multiracial country."