Tamil language education in Malaysia will be 200 years old this year and the Government is not about to let it go unnoticed. Deputy Education Minister Datuk P. Kamalanathan said various events would be held to commemorate this milestone that can trace its roots to Penang Free School, which hosted the first Tamil language class on Oct 21, 1816.
We should celebrate this because, as far as I know, there isn’t any other country in this region that has a Tamil vernacular school system, he told a press conference yesterday.
Kamalanathan said Tamil language education had made great strides in this country. Last time, we were ‘importing’ Tamil teachers and syllabus from India but today, the Swiss Education Ministry is using Universiti Pendidikan Sultan Idris’ Bachelor in Education (Tamil Language) as a qualification criterion for Tamil teachers in Switzerland, he added.
Among the activities planned is a 1Malaysia Tamil language competition that is open to all pupils who are not from Tamil schools. We have a lot of pupils who can speak Tamil but are not of Indian descent, he said.
There will also be a seminar for Tamil language teachers in October. Currently, it is a national event, but I am hoping to make it an international event, he said.
He also encouraged Tamil schools to send in their school songs using platforms such as YouTube. A panel will pick the winners.
Today, there are 524 Tamil schools nationwide, with almost 10,000 teachers and 100,000 pupils, while approval has been granted for the construction of another six schools. There are also plans to open a Tamil language centre in Universiti Malaya.
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