Granting permission to students to take non-official mother tongue in PSLE

Published Date: 19 January 2015 12:00 AM

News Parliamentary Replies

Name and Constituency of Member of Parliament

Mr Yee Jenn Jong, Non-Constituency Member of Parliament


To ask the Minister for Education over the past five years (a) what percentage of students have taken a non-official mother tongue language in lieu of their mother tongue language for the Primary School Leaving Examination; (b) how many of them are Singaporean students; and (c) what are the main reasons for granting such permission to Singaporean students.


Under the bilingual education policy, all students in our primary and secondary schools are required to offer a Mother Tongue Language (MTL).

In implementing the policy, we exercise some flexibility and allow students with exceptional circumstances to offer an approved Foreign or Asian Language in lieu of MTL. There are broadly two groups of students who can be given this permission. They are either students who join the school system mid-stream from non-MTL speaking countries, or students with at least one parent who is foreign born and of non-Chinese/Malay/Indian ethnicity.

Over the past five years, the group of students offering an approved Foreign or Asian Language has remained small, at around 1% of a PSLE cohort on average. The proportion of Singapore students doing so has remained stable, at around 0.2% of each cohort.

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