I Remember – I was enrolled in English-Medium stream in primary school (1964)

My two older brothers went to Chinese schools where Chinese was the main medium of instructions. My sister after them chose English-medium stream and I followed in her footsteps. Back in early 1960s, my parents already knew how to hedge their bets. Two went to Chinese-medium stream and two went for English-medium stream.

In education, there were so many changes in policies throughout the years since Singapore’s independence. It was difficult to keep up with these changes. The most sweeping changes came during the time when Mr Goh Keng Swee was the Education Minister in the early 1980s. He had a team comprising 5-member task force to revamp Singapore education system.

In 1983, it was decided that there would be only one stream, the so called national stream, to take effect in 1987. With that, schools discontinued the Chinese-medium stream, Malay-medium stream and Tamil-medium stream. This was due to dwindling enrolment numbers for these streams. English Language was taught as the first language under this national stream and the mother tongues became the second language.

I was struggling to cope with two languages during my school days. I was not a language person and there were so many other subjects to master too. In the end, I was not good in both languages, not very good with English Language and just so so in Mandarin. You would not hear me speak Mandarin like the pure Chinese speakers. It would be the Singapore version with Chinese and English used together in the same sentence.

http://eresources.nlb.gov.sg/newspapers/Digitised/Article/straitstimes19831222-1.2.2 (copyright belongs to The Straits Times)

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