A series of short videos promoting the use of mother tongue languages was launched by Minister for Education (Schools) Ng Chee Meng in name of the Lee Kuan Yew Fund for Bilingualism on Thursday (4 January) at New Town Secondary School.
The bilingualism video series features local artistes Olivia Ong, Shabir Alam, and Taufik Batisah, who talk about their experiences learning their mother tongue language, and how it has helped them appreciate the language and connect better with others.
The fund, which started in 2011, supported 23 new proposals, from singing competitions to rhyme books, aimed at encouraging the use of mother tongue languages among Singaporeans.
The new proposals bring the total number of projects supported by the fund to 72.
The projects, such as a competition to design and create a Chinese mobile learning application, were featured in the latest round of proposals, as well as a Mandarin theatre programme for Primary 2 children.
Mr Ng, who is also the chairperson for the Lee Kuan Yew Fund for Bilingualism, said, “Bilingualism forms an important part of our national identity.”
He said, “As the fund continues our efforts in promoting bilingualism, we urge parents to nuture in their children a lifelong love for all languages, especially their mother tongue.”
“Proficiency in our mother tongue will enable all of us to communicate effectively in a variety of settings, to understand our cultural heritage and to connect with communities across Asia and the world, which speak that same language or share the same culture,” the minister added.
He also stressed the importance of bilingualism when he spoke to students at New Town Secondary on Thursday, saying, “In Singapore, we have the best of both worlds. We have the English language, which plugs us into the world economy, and we have our own mother tongue (languages), to lend a window to our identity, heritage and culture.”
He also stated that being bilingual also opens up career opportunities, pointing to the potential in large markets such as China, India, and neighbouring countries.
Mr Ng also shared his experiences about how he realised the importance of the Chinese language “as a vehicle to my identity” when he was studying in the United States, adding, “Having the foundation of the Chinese language helps me discover my own identity.”