Assoc Prof Jamus Jerome Lim asked the Minister for Social and Family Development whether there are plans to increase the offering of non-Chinese official languages as a mother tongue language at the preschool and kindergarten levels for MOE-registered institutions located within Sengkang Town.
1. The Government has been working to increase the offering of Mother Tongue Language (MTL) at preschools. All MOE Kindergartens offer all 3 MTLs. The Early Childhood Development Agency (ECDA) has also been working closely with the Anchor Operators (AOPs) to expand the offering of MTL in preschools, especially in Malay and Tamil language. There are plans to double AOPs’ provision of Malay and/or Tamil language education to about 350 centres by 2022.
2. However, the increase in provision of MTL requires time as the number of MTL teachers are limited. Nationally, about 1,800 or over 90% of preschools offer at least one MTL. Of these, about 160 preschools offer all 3 MTLs and another 270 preschools offer 2 MTLs.
3. We have at least 1 preschool centre offering Malay or Tamil language in almost all heartland planning areas. Within the Sengkang planning area, about 30 preschools, or 30 per cent of all the preschools in Sengkang, offer Malay and/or Tamil language. ECDA will continue to work with the AOPs to ensure a good geographical spread of centres offering MTL.
4. To expand MTL teaching resources, ECDA has been working closely with training providers and operators to expand training capacity. For example, we introduced the Certificate in Preschool MTL Teaching (CPMTL) for Malay and Tamil Language in 2019, and have progressively increased the number of training places since then. As of June 2021, more than 300 in-service educators have completed the CPMTL for Malay and Tamil Language and have been deployed as MTL teachers in the preschools.
5. While ECDA continues to ramp up the supply of MTL teachers, preschools may determine their provision of MTL according to the needs and preferences of children and parents in each locality.
6. ECDA’s continued efforts to expand the provision of MTL, together with MOE’s planned increase in the number of MOE Kindergartens, will offer parents a wider range of preschools that offer MTL learning.