Higher Mother Tongue languages

Published Date: 19 March 2018 12:00 AM

News Parliamentary Replies

Name and Constituency of Member of Parliament

Mr Leon Perera, Aljunied GRC


To ask the Minister for Education (Schools) (a) how many students have taken Higher Chinese, Higher Malay and Higher Tamil over the past 10 years; and (b) what reasons can be discerned that explain the trend.


1. At the O-level, the proportion of Chinese Language students offering Higher Chinese has increased by about 4% over the past decade, to 30% last year. The proportion for Higher Tamil has increased over the same period from 19% to 30%. For Higher Malay, the proportion has hovered at around 11%.

2. At PSLE, the proportion of students offering Higher Chinese and Higher Tamil has held steady at about 27% and 21% respectively. The proportion of students offering Higher Malay has reduced by about 4% over the past decade, to about 5% in 2017.

3. MOE has reviewed the criteria to offer Higher Mother Tongue at O level in 2004, broadening access to beyond the top 10% of the cohort. Schools also have the discretion to allow any student to take up the subject if he or she demonstrates the passion and competency in Mother Tongue Language. This has led to the general increase in the proportion of students offering Higher Mother Tongue.

4. However, there are also concerns from schools and parents on whether students can cope with too many subjects. MOE is working with schools to support students with the ability and interest in their Mother Tongues to continue to pursue it to as high a level as they can.

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