Singapore

More pre-schools offering Malay and Tamil as second language

Most pre-schools here offer only Chinese as a second language but that is changing.

To strengthen bilingualism and in response to growing interest from parents, some pre-school operators are starting Tamil and Malay classes.

They also plan to boost mother tongue teaching if demand increases.

EtonHouse started offering Malay in 2016, and Tamil last year, at one of its centres in Mountbatten.

PILOT INITIATIVE

NTUC First Campus started offering Malay at 22 My First Skool centres in 2015, and Tamil at two centres in 2016.

The anchor operator targets to expand this pilot initiative - to 30 centres for Malay by the end of this year, and five centres for Tamil.

When the Ministry of Education (MOE) began setting up kindergartens in 2014, it made sure its centres offered all three mother tongues.

It has 18 centres. About 40 per cent of its 240 educators specialise in mother tongue, the MOE told The Straits Times earlier this month.

Close to 60 per cent teach Chinese, about 24 per cent teach Malay and around 18 per cent teach Tamil.

A spokesman for the PAP Community Foundation Sparkletots said nearly half of its centres offer Malay and more than 10 per cent offer Tamil.

Ms Josephyne Ho, senior principal of EtonHouse Pre-school in Mountbatten, said she has seen more parents asking for Malay and Tamil lessons in recent years.

Ms Nurazila Zakaria, 37, took her daughter out of Chinese lessons when her My First Skool centre in Pasir Ris started offering Malay in 2016.

The hospital executive said she wanted her daughter to learn Malay in a formal setting. - AMELIA TENG

Education