May 29, 2014
Statistics and Criteria for Mother Tongue Language Exemption
Name and Constituency of Member of Parliament
Mr Teo Siong Seng, NMPMr Yee Jenn Jong, Non-Constituency Member of Parliament
To ask the Minister for Education (a) for each year from 2004 to 2013, how many and what percentage of students are exempted from taking mother tongue at the Primary School Leaving Examination, with respective breakdowns for the mother tongue languages; (b) what are the top reasons for granting these exemptions; and (c) what are the criteria used to determine exemptions for returning Singaporeans and for those with learning difficulties.
Bilingualism is the cornerstone of our education system. All students in our primary and secondary schools are required to offer a Mother Tongue Language (MTL). Our goal is to support and enable every student to learn MTL to as high a level as he is capable of. The MTL curriculum is thus differentiated to cater to the needs of students with different starting point and MTL ability.
Students are given exemption from offering MTL only under exceptional circumstances. There are two broad categories of students who can be given exemption: (i) those who join or re-join the school system mid-stream without prior learning of the MTL, and (ii) those with certified medical condition that would adversely affect their ability to cope with MTL. The top 3 medical conditions for which MTL exemptions have been granted are dyslexia, autism spectrum disorder and ADHD.
MOE started to process applications for MTL exemptions electronically in 2005. The 2005 P1 cohort was thus the first cohort for which we can track exemption cases all the way from P1 to their PSLE year in 2010. From the 2010 PSLE cohort to the 2013 PSLE cohort, the proportion of students exempted from taking MTL has remained stable, at about 3. 5% of each cohort.