CHANGES TO THE
ELIGIBILITY CRITERIA FOR MTL 'B'
The CL 'B' syllabus was recommended by the Chinese
Language (CL) Review Committee, chaired by DPM Lee, in
1999. Introduced in 2001, the MTL 'B' syllabus emphasised
practical communication skills to help students who face
exceptional difficulties with MTL. It aimed to motivate
these students to learn their MTL up to a realistic level,
and sustain their interest in their MTL and culture.
Since the CL Review in 1999, the number of Chinese
students from English-speaking homes has risen to 49.8% in
20041 (see Chart 1). English has now overtaken
Mandarin as the primary language used in homes of Primary
1 Chinese pupils. We need to recognise and adapt to these
changing home language trends.
The CL Review envisaged that the CL 'B' syllabus would
cater to 10-20% of each cohort. In practice, far fewer
students have been channelled to this route. Last year,
only 2.6% of all students who registered for CL
examinations at the 2003 'O' levels took the CL 'B'
With the benefit of experience over the last three years,
MOE will now refine the eligibility guidelines for the MTL
'B' syllabus to make the syllabus more accessible to
students who are unable to cope with MTL despite putting
in the effort.
DPM Lee had stated in his interview with Lianhe Zaobao on
16 Nov 2003 that the government would refine the policy on
CL 'B' syllabus with a view to allow students to opt for
CL 'B' earlier, and to put in place flexible and timely
arrangements to help students with learning disabilities.
The eligibility criteria for MTL 'B' syllabus will be
revised to allow students who are exceptionally weak in
MTL to offer it earlier - from Secondary 1 - instead of
Secondary 3 for Express Students and Secondary 5 for
Normal (Academic) students. The MTL 'B' syllabus will help
such students not suffer in their broader academic
development on account of the time they have to put into
Students with Grade C and below in MTL at PSLE will be
allowed to take MTL 'B'. However, the PSLE MTL grade will
not be the only factor taken into account. Secondary
schools will have the flexibility to consider any
application to offer MTL B, on its educational merits.
They will assess the mother tongue language standard that
a student can achieve with reasonable effort, taking into
account his PSLE MTL grade and MTL performance in his
secondary school examinations.
The revisions to the eligibility criteria for the 'B'
syllabus are shown in the table below:
Students within the following categories will be
allowed to take MTL 'B':
Those with Grade C and below for PSLE MTL.
Those with learning disabilities, e.g.
dyslexia, ADHD, autism and hearing impairment.
(Those with more severe disabilities will be
exempted altogether from MTL requirements.)
Schools will have the flexibility to consider
any application from other students to offer MTL
'B'. They will assess the MTL standard that a
student can achieve with reasonable effort,
taking into account the student's PSLE MTL grade
and MTL performance in his secondary school
C and below for PSLE MTL and failed Sec 1 and 2
Sec 3 or obtained E8 and below at Sec 4 mid-year
'O' level, or failed 'N' level
E8 and below at 'O' or 'AO' level
MOE recognises that a small minority of students may not
be able to handle MTL at all. First, there are students
who have a clearly diagnosed disability that may result in
a significant underperformance. These students may be
considered for MTL 'B' or an exemption from MTL. MOE will
assess the severity of the learning disability and
determine if exemption is appropriate. Examples of
disabilities include dyslexia, ADHD, autism and hearing
impairment. Parents/guardians of the student seeking
exemption from MTL should apply to the school with medical
evidence of the disability.
Second, there are Singaporeans who re-enter the education
system after living overseas for a significant period of
time. These students can apply for an exemption from MTL,
or to offer MTL 'B'. MOE will consider each application
flexibly, on a case-by-case basis. More details are
available on the MOE website (www.moe.gov.sg/esp/eduinfo/mt.htm).
CHANGES TO THE
ELIGIBILITY CRITERIA FOR HMTL
MOE has also revised the eligibility criteria for HMTL to
allow more students to offer HMTL if they have the ability
and interest to do so. This will develop a larger pool of
Singaporeans with a deeper understanding of their mother
tongue language and culture.
The revised eligibility criteria are shown in the table
below. At the primary level, the percentage of P5 EM1
students who can continue to offer HMTL at P6 will
increase from about 84% in 2003 to 96%. At the secondary
level, the pool of students eligible to take HMTL
comprises 23 % of all Sec 1 Special and Express students.
With the easing of requirements, the pool of students
eligible to study HMTL will increase by about 1800, to 29%
of Sec 1 Special and Express students.
the end of P4, all students may opt to do HMTL
(by opting for the EM1 stream).
At the end of P5, those who obtained at least
Band 2 in their MTL and English Language (EL),
and Band 3 in Maths and Science and pass HMTL
can continue to do HMTL at P6.
the end of P4, all students may opt to do HMTL
At the end of P5, students with Band 2 or better
for MTL can continue to do HMTL at P6 if they
wish to do so.
10% of PSLE cohort;
Top 11-30% with A* in MTL at PSLE or Distinction
in HMTL and at least an A in EL.
10% of PSLE cohort; or
Top 11-30% of PSLE cohort with A* in MTL at PSLE
or Merit in HMTL.
Schools will also have the flexibility to allow
students who do not meet the above criteria to
offer HMTL, if they are assessed to have
exceptional ability in MTL and are able to do
HMTL without affecting their performance in
MTL FOR EM3
MOE will also allow EM3 students in primary schools to
offer MTL (instead of Basic Mother Tongue), if they obtain
Band 2 or better in the subject in their P4 streaming
examinations. This change mirrors the changes recently
introduced in the Normal (Technical) stream at secondary
level, where students can opt to do 1 to 2 subjects at the
Normal (Academic) level if they have the ability to do so.
The policy refinements announced above will take effect
immediately. Schools and MTL centres will work out
arrangements to make available the various MTL options as
far as possible, within their current resources. MOE
expects to be able to provide additional MTL teaching
resources to schools and MTL centres from June 2004, when
our trainee MTL teachers graduate from NIE. In the
meantime, MOE will also step up MTL teacher recruitment in
areas of shortage.
These policy refinements will provide parents and students
greater flexibility in choosing the MTL option most
appropriate for them. They seek to encourage students to
reach as high a level as possible in understanding their
language and culture, with reasonable investment of
effort. MOE and the schools will also look into more
innovative ways of teaching CL, to make it more lively and
1: Dominant Home Language of Chinese P1 Students: 1980 to
Survey at Primary 1 registration
are obtained from information provided by parents at
Primary 1 registration. Figure for 2004 is based on
Ministry of Education News Release 9 Jan 2004