SPEECH BY MR THARMAN SHANMUGARATNAM,MINISTER FOR EDUCATION AND SECOND MINISTER FOR FINANCE, AT THE PRESENTATION CEREMONY OF ARIF BUDIMAN TEACHER AWARD, 3 NOVEMBER 2007, 3.00 PM AT FURAMA RIVERFRONT SINGAPORE

Mr Masagos Zulkifli Senior Parliamentary Secretary (Education) & Chairman, Malay Language Learning & Promotion Committee (MLLPC)

Distinguished Guests

Teachers

Ladies and Gentlemen

Good afternoon,

[Part of speech delivered in Malay]

Introduction

1. I am happy to join you for the Award Presentation Ceremony of the 1st Arif Budiman Teacher Award 2007.

2. The Arif Budiman Teacher Award (AGAB) recognises the commitment of Malay Language (ML) teachers to the teaching and learning of Malay Language. The award honours the recipients as outstanding ML teachers who have demonstrated the passion, determination and perseverance to inspire and nurture our students.

3. Allow me to continue my speech in English.

Important Role of Mother Tongue Language Teachers

4. Teachers have unique responsibility. The way each of you interacts with your students, shapes their minds, aspirations, values and their sense of their role in society. This will create the future of our nation.

5. Mother Tongue teachers play an important role in preparing our students for a globalised future and strengthen Singapore�s identity as an open, diverse and cohesive society with Asian roots. Our competence in both English and the Mother Tongue Languages (MTLs) gives Singapore a competitive edge in the world.

6. That is why it is our Mother Tongue teachers, not the textbooks or syllabuses or the exams, that are ultimately what makes our bilingual education succeed. The care and concern for their students as individuals, the confidence that teachers give them in facing and tackling any difficulties in learning their mother tongues make a real difference to their students� enthusiasm.

Malay Language Learning and Teaching

7. For our Malay Language students, we must constantly seek ways to help them to continue to enjoy learning the Malay Language so that they can take pride in their ability to use the language well after they leave school.

8. The Malay Language Learning and Promotion Committee (MLLPC) chaired by Mr Masagos Zulkifli, Senior Parliamentary Secretary (Education) works with the community to carry out language and literary activities catering to students from all levels; from pre-school all the way to students in the institutions of higher learning.

9. There is much in what we have always done that remains relevant to the future. But we also need to experiment with new ways of teaching - new ways of nurturing the whole person, strong in mind and heart, willing to channel his energies to help better the society he lives in, true to the vision of Arif Budiman.

10. There is also a need for ML teachers to upgrade themselves continuously with respect to content and pedagogical knowledge. This is paramount in promoting a deeper appreciation of the Malay language, literature and culture, and effective classroom teaching. This will be aided by a series of planned immersion programmes to neighbouring Malay speaking countries like Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei.

11. Come next week, 23 ML teachers will go on the 1st ML Teachers Immersion Programme organized by the Malay Language Teachers Association. During this 5-day programme, teachers will attend customised lectures at tertiary institutions in Malaysia, visit schools and institutions and network with fellow educators and head of corporations.1

12. In the classroom, teaching methodologies have been changing. Our teachers are constantly trying to make Malay language learning interesting for their students and to make their students passionate about their mother tongue. They are keen and eager to be given more room to develop innovative teaching methods to meet the different learning needs of their students.

Arif Budiman Teacher Award

13. Our students look upon teachers as role models, taking cue from the beliefs, values and hopes that their teachers show. We are honouring four of these teachers this afternoon; those who have earned the Arif Budiman Teacher Awards. Some of them have been teaching for a few years and some have more than 20 years of experience. What they do share in common is that they are all outstanding teachers who bring the language to life for their students.

14. One of our recipients today for the Role Model Award is our Malay Language Master Teacher, Mr Mohd Naim bin Daipi. His passion to learn and share his knowledge has never waned since becoming a teacher 40 years ago. He has produced a variety of ML teaching resources in the form learning cards, games, CDs, IT resources and many more. These materials have been shared and reproduced to be used by teachers and students. Many of our Malay Language teachers aspire to follow his footsteps.

15. For Mr Ishak Bin Abdul Latiff from Bedok View Secondary, his zest for approaches that makes students interested to Malay language, arts and culture and his ever readiness to share resources with colleagues impressed his peers. In fact, he was nominated by his former colleague, Mdm Meghalla Kuppan, a Tamil Language teacher.

16. The two other winners, Mr Elmi Zulkarnain bin Osman and Miss Nur Ashikin binte Sapri go to great length to engage their students in making meaning of what they learn in class.

17. Miss Nurashikin from Tanjong Katong Girls Secondary School for example, gave the students many opportunities to explore the language � through on-line debates, workshops at Berita Harian and attachments to Ria Radio Station.

18. For Mr Elmi Zulkarnain from St. Hilda�s Primary School, besides bringing his students for Community Involvement Programme (CIP) activities in inculcating the values of service to the community and taking them on immersion programmes to Malaysia, he also uses blogs in his teaching of Malay Language and to interact with his students.

Conclusion

19. In closing, I would like to congratulate the four award winners and every one of the nominees for the awards. Each of them has shown what it takes to make a difference in education.

20. On a final note, I would like to thank Malay Language Teachers Association and the Singapore Malay Teachers Union for organizing the Arif Budiman Teacher Awards. You have helped to make possible a very meaningful award.

21. If I may end my speech with a pantun:

Berburu ke padang datar,

Dapat rusa belang kaki;

Berguru kepalang ajar,

Bagai bunga kembang tak jadi.

[The importance of acquiring knowledge from a knowledgeable teacher]

22. Thank you.