Speech by Mr K Barathan CEO, SINDA at the Tamil Language Month IMPROF Fringe Session on 15 April 2017 at Tampines Regional Library
It is my pleasure to meet all of you here today. Let me speak a little in Tamil before I carry on in English.
- உங்கள் அனைவரையம் சந்திப்பதில் நான் அதிக மகிழ்ச்சி கொள்கிறேன். ஒவ்வொரு ஆண்டும், நாம் தமிழ் மொழி விழாவை ஆவலுடன் எதிர்பார்க்கிறோம். சிங்கப்பூரில், சமூக மற்றும் மத நல்லிணக்கத்தை ஊக்குவிப்பதில், தமிழ் ஒரு முக்கிய பங்கு வகிக்கிறது. தமிழ் மொழி உலகிலையே ஆக பழமையான மொழிகளில் ஒன்று. அது சிங்கப்பூரின் அதிகாரப்பூர்வ மொழிகளில் ஒன்றாக திளைப்பது ஒரு சிறப்பான விஷயம். அது நமக்கு பெருமையை அளிக்கின்றது. சிங்கப்பூரில் இம்மொழியை வளர்ப்பதும் இன்னும் விரிவுபடுத்துவதும் நம் கையில்-தான் உள்ளது.
- Each year, we look forward to the Tamil Language Festival. It plays a vital role in promoting social, racial and religious harmony in Singapore. As one of the longest-surviving classical languages in the world and as one of Singapore’s official languages, Tamil has earned a special place in multiracial Singapore. Greater appreciation of the language and the related culture will provide our future generations with a better understanding of their roots and will foster in them a greater sense of belonging to the Indian community and Singapore. We’ve also seen youth of other races passionate about Tamil and incorporating it into their lives—the language itself bridges communities together.
- It is heartening to see IMPROF take a keen interest in promoting the Tamil language Festival. At SINDA, we have collaborated with IMPROF on events, including one where we hosted our young Indian achievers who were commended at the SINDA Excellence Awards. It was a platform for us to not only recognise talent, but also engage and get these students to be passionate about social and community matters.
- When we look to the future, it is one that is dominated by digitisation. We would all have read about the Ministry of Education’s recent move to introduce pocket-sized codeable computers to 100,000 school–going children and adults. It is a move to get our young ones curious about digital technology and get them involved in it from an early age. Because, without it, our children will lose advantage in the future economy.
- Even at SINDA, we have keenly adopted digital education. Together with the other self-help groups, we have partnered with Google to roll out the ‘Code in the Community’ programme for our primary-school children, to inspire them to take up technology as a career. We are seeing more of our youth involved in online start-ups and technepreneurship, so such training is timely in adding value to our students’ holistic growth. We hope to get them to start thinking about technology in creative ways from onset.
- The theme IMPROF has taken for this year aligns itself to this vision as well. They are being innovative by engaging the millennial generation through the technology that they rely on, which are smart phones and smart devices. I’m happy to hear that IMPROF has something planned for us later, a way for us to infuse Tamil in engaging and interacting with our millennial generation. This is the way forward.
- Which also means that we, the older generations, need to be innovative in how we engage our youth. When we were young, we carried phone cards for emergencies so that we get in touch with our families. Now, parents buy tablets for their infants and that table becomes a main learning platform for the child to interact and understand the world around it. It is no longer about digital technologies being a part of our lives; it is about digital technologies shaping the world we live in.
- So, as IMPROF carries on with today’s event as part of the Tamil Language Festival, I wish it the very best in its efforts and look forward to more organisations coming forward with active, innovative and creative ways to continue our efforts in engaging our youth in the future.