KUALA LUMPUR, July 23 — The relaxation of the current requirement for Tamil to be taught as an additional language in secondary schools is seen as an advantage for students to master more languages.

Malaysian Indian Community Transformation Unit (Mitra) Special Committee chairman Datuk R. Ramanan said the move also proved that Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim is concerned about the needs of the multiracial communities in the country.

“Many Indians love their mother tongue and are always up to date with the latest developments in this area because it is a tradition and their culture.

“So it is important for us to continue this tradition so that there is continuity. At the same time, we should give other students the opportunity to learn the Tamil language,” he said when contacted by Bernama today.

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Yesterday, Anwar pledged to discuss with Education Minister Fadhlina Sidek how the minimum number of 15 students needed for Tamil to be taught as an additional language in secondary schools can be reduced further.

Anwar said the current condition requires a minimum of 15 students for a Tamil language class to be held, and will suggest for the Ministry of Education to make the necessary adjustments.

Although the National Education Policy stipulates that Bahasa Melayu is the main medium of instruction in schools while also promoting the use of English to improve proficiency, Anwar said at the same time students should be encouraged to learn additional languages in secondary schools.

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Ramanan said thorough preparations need to be made before implementing the move so as not to burden the teachers.

Meanwhile, Concerned UM Indian Graduates (Cumig) suggested that the proposal could be implemented in the form of legislative amendments to ensure continuity.

The amendments should be made to Section 2 of the Education Act, 1996, the graduate fraternity said in a statement today.

Section 2 of the Education Act 1996 states that the teaching of Chinese and Tamil in public primary and secondary schools can take place on condition that there is an application from 15 or more parents.

“Cumig welcomes the Prime Minister’s proposal which will inevitably add value to students in terms of mastery of an additional language and broader access to mother tongue education at secondary level.

“At the same time, this change in the teaching and learning of the mother tongue must be extended to the primary school level,” Cumig said. — Bernama