Speeches/Interviews

July 20, 2019

Speech by Ms Indranee Rajah, Second Minister for Education, at the Hindi Centres Day

Mr Mahendra Prasad Rai, President, The Hindi Society

Members of the Management Committee, The Hindi Society

Teachers and students

Ladies and gentlemen

1. Thank you for having me here at this year’s Hindi Centres Day, and congratulations on your 30th year anniversary.

2. Since the start of the first Hindi classes in 1990, the Hindi Society has grown in capacity and numbers, and has made great strides in promoting the teaching and learning of the Hindi language. Apart from the continual improvement of teaching pedagogies and materials, the society has also increased its efforts to provide specialised teacher training to enhance the quality of language instruction provided to students.

3. I know these developments are welcomed by the community, and also by MOE. In my written message in Sadhna, I touched on the important role of languages in our multicultural society. A language defines who we are, not just individually, but also collectively as a community and a nation.

4. In MOE, we believe that the learning of languages enables us to communicate with our family and friends, understand different cultures, and also embrace our cultural diversity amongst the various communities in Singapore. On an individual level, language learning also benefits our cognitive development – it helps those who use different languages to stay sharp, even in old age – and allows us to stay connected with the world and seize economic opportunities.

5. This year is also our bicentennial where we commemorate 200 years since the founding of modern Singapore. And what makes Singapore special is that we are a multicultural and multiracial society. If you look at what is happening around the world, in other countries, there is much division and polarisation. Singapore has set out on a journey - to be a place where people from different cultures, religions, and races can live together peacefully. Having the Hindi Society and the Hindi language here in Singapore adds to the richness of our nation and the vibrancy of the cultural community we have here. Hence, we are very pleased with the Hindi Society as it ensures that we stay vibrant as a community and this makes the nation richer as a whole.

6. And hence, because of these benefits, it makes sense for us to learn languages as a lifelong endeavour. When we are young, the family plays a large part in providing a conducive home environment to support language learning. As we grow up, sustained exposure and usage is important to keep the language alive. This is why a big part of our language learning efforts must come from the community, which has the wealth of understanding and richness in experiences that can be passed down over generations.

7. The Board of Teaching and Testing of South Asian Languages (BTTSAL), which the Hindi Society is a part of, is one good example of how the various Indian Community Groups have come together to meet the needs of their learners. Through the centralised coordination of curriculum development and assessments, students are able to reap the benefits of learning the five Non-Tamil Indian Languages.

8. To the students who are receiving awards today, congratulations. This award recognises not just the hard work you have put in, but also the collective efforts by teachers, parents, community leaders and partners who have made The Hindi Society what it is over the years.

9. On this note, I would like to express my heartfelt appreciation to the Hindi Society for playing a pivotal role in promoting the teaching and learning of Hindi Language. Thank you for your dedication in creating a conducive and vibrant language learning environment.

10. I wish the Hindi Society continued success in its endeavours. Thank you.