Speech By Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, Minister For Community Development, Youth And Sports And, Second Minister For Information, Communications And The Arts At The Opening Of Progress With Tamil - An Interactive Forum
Speech By Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, Minister For Community Development, Youth And Sports And, Second Minister For Information, Communications And The Arts At The Opening Of Progress With Tamil - An Interactive Forum On 7 April 2007, 9am At MDIS Unicampus
Mr A R Mashuthoo, Organising Chairman and Vice President, Tamils Representative Council,
Dr R Theyventran, President, Tamils Representative Council,
Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen and students,
[Audio file of opening lines in Tamil wishing guests and expressing happiness at gracing event has been provided by organisers, and will lead naturally to the body of the speech]
Friends and Students my greetings.
I am pleased to join you in the Tamil Language Festival.
Tamil Language Festival is an important event.
This should be continued.
My best wishes to every one.
The Tamil language is one of the oldest surviving languages. The language is a crucial component of the identity and culture of Singaporean Tamils. While Tamil is accorded the status of an official language in Singapore , it is essential that the community continues to use the language to ensure that it remains a living language in Singapore .
2 The government has consistently supported the promotion of our mother tongues. Tamil language is taught as a second language in 148 Primary Schools, 76 Secondary schools and five Tamil language centres in Singapore to date. Last year, for the first time, a degree programme in Tamil was launched at SIM University . This will ensure that in future, we will have more Tamil language teachers with Tamil degree qualifications.
3 The proportion of Tamil families who speak the language at home remains small. English is still more commonly used in many homes. The declining usage of Tamil is a source of concern. While the English language is essential for economic reasons, we still need access to mother tongues to access our cultural heritage and define our identity.
4 It is not enough to just urge Tamil youths to use the language frequently. The community has to find ways to inject fun and convenience in the learning of the language. As India emerges as an economic power, the importance of Indian languages, including Tamil, would increase. Those who possess the necessary language skills would be better placed to tap into the business and employment opportunities that a booming India offers.
5 In conclusion, I would like to commend TRC, under the leadership of Dr Theyventran, for its commitment to promoting the use of Tamil among students through its many initiatives such as workshops, seminars, tuition programmes, competitions, bursaries, and scholarships. I would also like to extend my appreciation to TRC and New Town Primary School for working together to make this event possible. I hope to see more of such collaborations. With the support and efforts of Tamil community organisations such as TRC, schools, the media and members of the community, we will continue to ensure that Tamil remains a living language.