The Ministry of Education has introduced a new Chinese language textbook for Secondary 4 Express stream students.
It is a laudable effort to enhance the teaching of the language and nurture in students an understanding and appreciation of Chinese culture.
The textbook contains a literary work entitled Fishing, which is an extract from Memories Of Childhood by renowned Chinese essayist Feng Zikai.
However, the textbook did not mention Feng's name or the source of the work. The acknowledgement page at the back of the textbook included only the name of the person who provided the article.
While the acknowledgement probably serves as an indication that permission to reproduce the literary work was granted, it is the moral right of Feng to be identified as the author.
By omitting to credit him, we are setting a wrong example to students about plagiarism, which is becoming a serious problem in universities. Students must be taught from a young age that any academic work incorporating extracts from other sources must include the appropriate citation.
It is also a missed opportunity to teach students more about the Chinese culture through discussions about the author and the historical context of the work.
I hope the ministry will consider revising the textbook to ensure that all literary extracts are properly credited, as well as to provide students with brief and interesting information about the authors.
Edmund Lam (Dr)
Chief Executive Officer & Director
Composers and Authors Society of Singapore
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