Speeches

Speech by Mr Masagos Zulkifli BMM, Senior Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of Education and Ministry of Home Affairs, at the 10th Anniversary of the Elective Malay for Secondary Schools (EMAS) and Malay Language Elective Programme (MLEP) at Tampines Junior College on Saturday, 12 Jun 2010 at 2.30pm

Mr Mohamed Noh Daipi
Centre Director Malay Language of Singapore and
Assisstant Director Mother Tongue Languages
Curriculum Planning & Development Division, MOE

Principals

Teachers

Students, Ladies and Gentlemen

Good Afternoon.

Introduction

I will begin my speech in English before continuing it in Malay.

It gives me great pleasure to join you here this afternoon to celebrate the 10th Anniversary of the Elective Malay For Secondary Schools (EMAS) and Malay Language Elective Programme (MLEP). Both EMAS and MLEP have grown in leaps and bounds over these 10 years. Today, we are gathered to celebrate the achievements of these programmes. I would like to specially commend teachers of both programmes for playing a significant role in producing a continuous stream of students who have attained a high standard of Malay Language. This is important in ensuring that there will continue to be people well equipped to play certain roles in our society later on—as thought leaders, journalists, as academics or Malay Language teachers in our schools influencing the next generation.

We need to recognise that there is a shifting profile of language used in Malay homes. Five years ago, about one quarter of P1 Malay children come from homes use predominantly English at home. Today, more than a third do. Given this changing home language profiles in just over five years, we would need to look ahead to ensure that our pedagogical approaches are in step. Since 2007, a differentiated approach catering to a range of learners has been adopted in primary school. The tahap approach is unique to our Singapore context. We will review this approach, and to refine it if necessary. For those who have the ability and interest in the Malay language, like those on the EMAS and MLEP, we will encourage and enable them to learn the language to as high a level as possible.

Distinguished guests, allow me at this juncture to continue my speech in Malay.

[Translation]

Introduction

It gives me great pleasure to be with all of you this afternoon. The 10th anniversary celebration of the Elective Malay for Secondary Schools (EMAS) and Malay Language Elective Programme (MLEP) is a meaningful event for all of us. As a significant pinnacle of achievements in our effort to enhance Malay language in Singapore, EMAS and MLEP programmes reflect the close partnership between Ministry of Education, schools, students, parents and the community in developing skills and nurturing passion in our students towards the language.

EMAS was first launched at Bukit Panjang Government High School and MLEP at Tampines Junior College in 2001. Since then, we have expanded the EMAS and MLEP programmes. In 2006, we introduced EMAS at Tanjong Katong Secondary School and MLEP at Innova Junior College. The aim of both programmes is to nurture the language talents of students so that they can attain a high level of proficiency in the Malay language and a deeper appreciation of Malay culture and literature. This allows us to produce more language experts and leaders to continue the effort of enriching and enhancing Malay language in Singapore.

Ladies and gentlemen, both EMAS and MLEP programmes have reached its tenth year. Many students from both programmes have benefited extensively through the various activities organised. We hope that these are the individuals who will spearhead and lead community efforts in nurturing love towards the language and culture in the future.

I am pleased to note that many EMAS and MLEP students progress on to continue with post secondary education. I am proud to announce that to date, 73 MLEP students have received MLEP scholarship and 153 students are pursuing university education. MLEP programmes have also contributed significantly to the teaching profession. To date, there are 47 MLEP graduates who had joined the teaching service. It is also heartening to note that many of them were also involved in organising today’s 10th year anniversary celebration.

Among the many MLEP students, Shahida Hassim, from Tampines Junior College, a student in the academic year 2005/2006 was awarded with the SPH Bursary, while Siti Hazirah Mohamad, from the same cohort, was awarded with the Teaching Scholarship. Nur Diyana Abdul Kader, a student from Innova Junior College, in the academic year 2007/2008 was the recipient of the Prime Minister Book Prize Award for her excellence in bilingualism and achieving ‘A’ grades for all her subjects in the GCE ‘A’ Level Examination. This year, Muhammad Andi Zulkepli, a student from Tampines Junior College is nominated for the NIE Award 2010 and the Rotary International 75th Anniversary Gold Medal Award.

EMAS and MLEP programmes have also helped students achieve the vision of Arif Budiman. EMAS and MLEP graduates contributed in various fields such as teaching, media and journalism. Many are also active in organising language activities for various organisations such as the National University of Singapore Malay Language Society, Nanyang Technological University / National Institute of Education Malay Language and Culture Society, Singapore Malay Teachers’ Union and Malay Youths Literary Association. May I say “Well done” to all EMAS and MLEP students and teachers for their determination and efforts in ensuring that the Malay language, literature and culture remain vibrant and alive.

MOE will continue in our efforts to provide differentiated teaching to meet the varying needs of our students. For those who have the ability and interest in the Malay language, like those on the EMAS and MLEP, we will encourage and enable them to learn the language to as high a level as possible. I hope that EMAS and MLEP centres will continue to find innovative ways to make the programmes engaging for the students. There is also a need for us to think of various strategies to encourage EMAS and MLEP graduates to be part of the teaching service. This is essential to ensure that Malay language, literature and culture remains vibrant, alive and dynamic in Singapore.

Closing

Ladies and gentlemen, time does not determine language continuity and the number of language experts produced within a community. Instead, it is the relentless and continuous effort of promoting the language that determines language continuity and development. The Malay language will remain alive and well if we continue to strive and persevere in our efforts to help students achieve the language proficiency to as high a level they are capable of. There is an old saying that goes, “Knowledge that is not practised, is no different from a tree that bears no fruit.” Similarly, in the case of a language, if we do not use it, we will lose it.

Once again, my heartiest congratulations to EMAS and MLEP. May both programmes accomplish greater success in the near future and acts as an avenue to produce more Malay language and literary experts and intellects for the community.

In conclusion, allow me to grace the occasion with a verse of pantun:

Dokoh puteri seri sepangsa,
Bersalut EMAS bersulam suasa;
Kukuh cinta lestari bahasa,
Teguh budaya jiwa bangsa.
[Translation]
[Pendants of princess glittering in line,
Plated in gold and weaved in alloy (mix of gold and copper);
Deep love will ever last language,
Strongly rooted culture be soul of the community.]

Thank you.