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Speech By Mr Ng Chee Meng, Minister For Education (Schools) at the Launch Of Reading Together @ South West

Published Date: 27 May 2017 12:00 AM

News Speeches

A very good afternoon to all of you.

2. I am very happy to join you for the launch of Reading Together @ South West. I understand that under this programme, 17 reading corners will be set up across RC centres in the district, bringing bilingual reading resources closer to young children and families. I am glad that these resources have been specially curated to generate conversations about our local content and culture, and enhance parent-child bonding.

3. Singapore’s multi-racial makeup has blessed us with a wonderful diversity of languages, religions and cultures. When we became an independent nation, English was chosen to be Singapore’s working language as it allowed different ethnic groups to interact with one another, and enabled us to communicate with the international community.

4. However, Mother Tongue Languages remained important. In fact, our Mother Tongue Languages are essential in helping us to stay connected to our heritage, cultural roots and values as well as strengthen our sense of identity.

5. Indeed, bilingualism has been an asset for Singaporeans in the past fifty years. The opportunity to learn two languages is our strength, our competitive advantage. Today, our bilingual education system provides a foundation for our children to develop their bilingual literacy and prepares them for future opportunities across the world and even right here in Singapore, as a global city.

6. For bilingualism to remain relevant to our children, it is important to start young, to lay a strong foundation for our Mother Tongue Languages.

7. Parents especially have a crucial role to play in encouraging their children to use their Mother Tongue everyday. This way, it becomes a living language, as part of their daily lives, and not just a subject in school to be aced.

8. I am heartened that the South West community has come together to engage families and through the simple act of reading, provide such a conducive environment to prepare children to be ready for the future world as bilingual and bicultural citizens. As we all know, reading allows the child to develop important language skills. In fact, listening, speaking, reading and writing, are essential literacy skills.

9. Reading to, and with, your child can also help you build closer bonds with them and support their learning journey. Once a child picks up reading as a habit, they benefit for life. That’s why Reading Together @ South West is a timely move that provides opportunities for reading and language learning at your doorstep, and brings together the community of young families and their caregivers.

10. In fact, this is the first bilingual reading programme in the community which also strengthens our Singapore identity, by getting the young – and not-so-young too – to interact and appreciate our Mother Tongue Languages. Each reading corner is resourced with a variety of bilingual books sponsored by the Lee Kuan Yew Fund for Bilingualism with support from various partners.

11. Children and families will also enjoy monthly storytelling sessions and activities conducted by volunteers from the community, corporate sector and schools, as well as activities held in conjunction with major festivals, once every quarter.

12. Other than providing quality reading resources to enhance parent-child bonding, the programme also promotes youth volunteerism to encourage our young ones to give back to society.

13. I would like to applaud the efforts of coordinating mayor and South West CDC mayor, Ms Low Yen Ling, and her team of enthusiastic grassroots leaders and volunteers for starting this meaningful project, and bringing the joy of learning Mother Tongue beyond schools, right into our heartlands.

14. I hope this is just the beginning of even more community efforts across our island to engage more families and make our Mother Tongue Languages come alive for our children. We look forward to the support of every one of you to make Reading Together @ South West a success.