to learn Chinese!
The current (and renewed) wave of breast beatening by those Chinese Singaporeans who don’t like weight — or too much weight — be given to learning Chinese for their children to progress academically, makes me wonder once again why our dear, sweet, long suffering Government keeps on casting pearls be4 swine.
I don’t know why Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Education Minister Ng Eng Hen don’t pay some attention to those Chinese and non-Chinese Singaporean adults who missed out on a proper grounding in Chinese, not because they were unwilling but because knowing Chinese wasn’t important when they were at school.
Let those who want to, yank their children from school and emigrate. If every time their children face an obstacle that appears (note it only appears so; not necessarily is so) insurmountable and their solution is to emigrate, let’s see how many countries they would have to move to before their kids grow up
Instead, the Government should begin paying attention to Singaporeans like the following:
- My friend Shirley Tong who, after retiring last year, has spent thousands of dollars to get her Chinese up to speed. She said: “Owing to the hefty fees one has to fork out, you really have to have the passion to learn/master the language and be prepared to put up with lots of homework and tests before you sign up.” She has completed two levels. Read her story here.
- Or take another friend, retired journalist Ismail Kassim who has spent two periods in Kunming, Yunnan brushing up his Chinese. His story is here.
- Then there is the Indian Singaporean restaurant supervisor I came across while eating at Ajisen. Read about him here.
- Last but not least, the parents of a blogger whom I met recently. She writes in her blog how her elderly parents grew up English speaking but started learning the Chinese language in their old age. “These days, they subscribe to both the English and Chinese newspapers,” she adds, “and are now more proficient than me.”
From my examples, there appears to be no lack of adult Singaporeans trying or wanting to try to learn Chinese, maybe for no more altruistic reason than to have an easier time when visiting China.
The Government should leverage on this and expand WDA (Workforce Development Agency) support to adults learning Chinese. And to ensure money isn’t wasted by those who just want to try but are not serious, make course and tuition fees reimbursable only when exams are passed and certificates obtained.
Or to make it more fun, fund short trips to China for those who spend a minimum stipulated number of hours learning Chinese at approved centres, such as Communty Clubs.
There is more than one way to skin a cat.
If the kids are unwilling, look towards the adults, many of whom have not only rediscovered their roots but also see the Chinese language as giving them a new lease and vigour for life. Better still, they could be role models for their children and/or grand children.