Allowing more students to study higher Chinese will boost the language and culture here, suggested Singapore Chinese Teachers' Union (SCTU) president Lian Hwee Eng on Saturday.
Speaking at the union's 60th anniversary celebrations in Pasir Ris, she urged for restrictions to be eased. Currently, only pupils who do well in the Primary School Leaving Examination can opt to take higher Chinese in secondary schools.
"Some primary school pupils may be good in Chinese, but because their English or mathematics is not good they are encouraged to forgo higher Chinese to put more time into those subjects," she said. Her suggestion was one of many raised on Saturday to encourage more Singaporeans to embrace Chinese language and culture.
Minister for Education Heng Swee Keat, the guest of honour, hopes to see more take up grants, like the ones offered by the National Arts Council, to write Chinese books and plays. He added that arts groups can foster greater appreciation of Chinese through their productions.
Social groups can also help children from lower-income families in their Mandarin, while clan associations can do their part by, say, bringing martial arts and calligraphy to the public.
The 1,700-strong union was founded in 1953 to look after the welfare of Chinese teachers. Since then, its scope has widened to include running short courses for teachers and reading clubs. It also has collaborations with overseas schools.
The Chinese Department of Fudan University in China, for example, runs a Chinese language and literature doctoral programme in Singapore with the union.
As part of the anniversary celebrations, some 40 members will also attend the 6th International Chinese Teaching Forum in Kunming, China in November. Highlights of the forum will be included in a special 60th anniversary commemorative book expected to be out early next year.