Speeches/Interviews

August 25, 2018

Speech by Ms Indranee Rajah, Second Minister for Education at the Most Inspiring Tamil Teacher Award 2018

Mr Vikram Nair, Chairman, Tamil Language Learning and Promotion Committee

Mr Samikannu, President of the Singapore Tamil Teachers’ Union

Mr Anthony Tan, Deputy CEO of Singapore Press Holdings

Mr Chandra Das, Former Chairman of Tamil Murasu Board

Distinguished guests from Tamil Murasu

Members of the Tamil Language Learning and Promotion Committee

Colleagues from MOE

Ladies and gentlemen.

Vanakkam

1. I am delighted to join you today, at this presentation ceremony of the Most Inspiring Tamil Teachers’ Award 2018 or MITT.

2. MITT is jointly organised by Tamil Murasu, Singapore Tamil Teachers’ Union and the Tamil Language Learning and Promotion Committee. This award serves to recognise the stellar performance of our Tamil Language educators.

3. It has been 16 years since its inception and MITT has recognised 180 inspiring Tamil Language educators in our primary, secondary schools, junior colleges and centralised institute who have been role models to other Tamil Language educators in nurturing the next generation of students to become proficient users of the Tamil Language.

MAKING LANGUAGE LEARNING COME ALIVE

4. As Thiruvalluvar as said, You meet with joy, with pleasant thought you part; Such is the learned scholar’s wonderous art!

5. As language teachers, you are given an admirable task of seeding your students’ thoughts and ideas, inspiring them to speak and write the language to express themselves and communicate the language. Over time, we hope they will grow to love the language. This year, we welcome 10 such recipients who will be honoured for their passion for the Tamil language that has inspired their students to love the language, and are advocates in sustaining Tamil as a living language. Research shows that making the learning of Mother Tongue language meaningful, relevant and engaging in today’s multilingual and diverse society is a challenge, especially when there has been a visible language shift from the speaking of MTL towards English in recent years at home and social settings (Zhao & Liu, 2007).

6. However, I am happy to hear from our recipients, Mdm Sumathi, Mdm Kamala and Mdm Krishnaveeni who teach at primary schools, how they have overcome this uphill task by using games, learning journeys, visual media and ICT to make Tamil Language come alive for their students. As they see their students becoming more confident in using the language they are further inspired to innovate and experiment with new ideas to learn the language.

7. Likewise, our recipients from secondary school, Mr Gnanasekaran, Mdm Kalyani and Ms Noorul Fathima all believe that understanding and respecting the students’ needs and interests play a key role in language learning. They have created opportunities for their students to learn and understand the language and culture through various school based activities, literary competitions and events organised by community organisations. I am pleased to share that Mr Gnanasekaran from Woodlands Secondary School has inspired his students so much that receiving the MITT award alongside him today is his former CHIJ St Theresa’s student in 2005, Ms Noorul Fathima who is now teaching in Yuhua Secondary School.

8. Our Lifetime Achievement Awardees, Mrs Bhupathy, Mr Muthumanickam and Mr Thuraimanickam have also been instrumental in developing generations of Tamil Language Teachers and cultural transmitters. They are certainly our role-models for our younger generation of Tamil teachers. They believe that a strong school-home collaboration is pivotal for language learning and that a conducive home environment is critical in building the child’s confidence level in using the language regularly.

9. Thus all language educators today have to build a strong school-home-community partnership to create a vibrant language learning environment in Singapore, providing an added advantage to our students as they enter the global arena.

10. Bilingualism has worked for Singapore and we should continue to develop our students’ strength in both English and Mother Tongue Languages so that they can continue the good work of our pioneer generation in strengthening the relationship with our neighbouring countries in South Asia. Hence the support of the community is vital in keeping our Mother Tongue Languages alive.

MAKING LEARNING COME ALIVE WITH THE COMMUNITY

11. It is heartening to note that various organisations and community partners have continued to play a key role in promoting Tamil Language and the Indian culture.

12. Our National Tamil newspaper, Tamil Murasu, has been supporting the learning of Tamil Language since 1935. Apart from its daily edition, it also boosts the use of Tamil Language amongst our young learners through its student publications. These include Manavar Murasu, Illayar Murasu and its newest addition Balar Murasu, which is targeted at pre-schoolers. Tamil Murasu has also been organising futsal tournament for 10 to 12-year-old boys to cultivate team work, sportsmanship, camaraderie and foster friendship among the boys from different ethnic groups.

13. The Singapore Tamil Teachers Union supports and nurtures our Tamil Language teachers. It also organises a wide range of activities locally and internationally to cater to the professional development of Tamil Language Teachers.

14. This year they are organising the World Tamil Teachers' Conference that will be taking place from 6 to 8th September at Singapore University of Social Science. This will be an excellent platform for the teaching fraternity to share, network and innovate on how to bring Tamil Language Learning alive on a global level.

15. The Tamil Language Learning and Promotion Committee has rallied various stakeholders together to create a conducive environment for the learning and use of Tamil Language beyond schools.

16. Besides its signature events such as the Preschool Symposium for Tamil Language Teachers and the 2-day non-residential parent-child camp entitled Tamizhodu Enaivoum, TLLPC also collaborates with community groups and organisations to make language learning alive and relevant and to strengthen the teaching fraternity.

17. We truly value our community partners from the different sectors coming together to make language learning meaningful and relevant for our future generation.

CONCLUSION

18. In conclusion, I thank the organising committee for your hard work in making this award ceremony possible.

19. I applaud and thank every parent, educator and community partner for your efforts to make the teaching and learning of Tamil Language both a meaningful and fun experience for our children.

20. On this note, I would like to extend my heartiest congratulations to all award recipients and their family members on this special occasion.

21. Nandri. Vanakkam