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All Singapore's Primary Schools to Offer Chinese Lessons
    2007-03-08 00:26:48     Xinhua

Singapore announced Wednesday that within five years all primary school will offer conversational Chinese and Malay lessons for students.

The efforts are aimed to help prepare young Singaporeans for a globalized future and strengthen Singapore's identity as an open, diverse and cohesive society, Minister for Education Tharman Shanmugara said in Parliament.

He added that this will also help enhance interaction among Singaporeans of different races in future, and strengthen social cohesion.

Since 2005, schools have been encouraged to offer conversational Chinese and Malay to their students who are not taking these subjects as their mother tongues. And in 2006, 58 primary schools and 47 secondary schools introduced in these lessons.

"Ministry of Education (MOE) will be providing schools with additional resources to implement these programs," said Shanmugara, adding that "It is envisaged that within 5 years, all primary schools will be able to offer simple conversational Chinese and Malay as enrichment programs."

Bilingualism is a key feature of the city-state's education system. Singaporeans competence in both English and the mother tongue languages gives Singapore a competitive edge in the world.

The bilingual policy is centered on the four official languages, namely, English, Malay, Chinese and Tamil.

Shanmugara also said that the MOE will provide Tamil lessons during curriculum time in eight more secondary schools, and provide support for the learning of other Indian Languages from next year.

In addition, the MOE will offer Bahasa Indonesia and Arabic as Third Languages at the MOE Language Center from 2008, which will bring the number of Third Languages that MOE offers from five to seven.

The other Third Languages are Chinese, Malay, French, German and Japanese. 



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