No Spot for Students Taking Malay or Tamil in Singapore’s Top 5 Primary Schools


Mainstream media reported last week that “parents hoping to place their six-year-olds in five of the most popular primary schools this year may face a ballot next week.

The 5 most popular schools mentioned in the article are CHIJ St Nicholas Girls’ School, Nanyang Primary, Nan Hua Primary, Red Swastika School and Catholic High School.

What it failed to mention is that none of the top five schools offer Malay or Tamil as a second language and that students who wish to take Malay or Tamil as a second language in any of these schools will not be able to do so.

This is according to MOE’s website, which lists that all five schools only offer Chinese as a second language.

It is curious why this isn’t considered newsworthy by mainstream media, which interestingly interviewed and carried a quote by a parent who successfully registered his daughter at Red Swastika School last week.

The parent, communications professional Ow Yong Weng Leong, said to the Straits Times: “The school offers Higher Chinese from Primary 1, so I hope it will help my daughter in becoming bilingual as she currently speaks English more.”

According to, the 15 best primary schools in Singapore (ranked according to MOE statistics of how oversubscribed each school is) in 2016 were:

  1. Anglo-Chinese School (Junior)
  2. CHIJ Primary (Toa Payoh)
  3. St. Joseph’s Institution Junior
  4. Methodist Girls’ School (Primary)
  5. Pei Hwa Presbyterian Primary School
  6. Fairfield Methodist School (Primary)
  7. St. Andrew’s Junior School
  8. Nanyang Primary School
  9. Anglo-Chinese School (Primary)
  10. Catholic High School
  11. Maris Stella High School
  12. Chij St. Nicholas Girls’ School
  13. Tao Nan School
  14. St. Hilda’s Primary School
  15. Ai Tong School

Of these 15 schools, only 8 offer Malay and Tamil as second languages. Pei Hwa Presbyterian Primary School, Nanyang Primary School, Catholic High School, Maris Stella High School, CHIJ St. Nicholas Girls’ School, Tao Nan School and Ai Tong School only offer Chinese as a second language.


    • Keyword “SAP schools” is a racist policy

      You cried so much when the EP is reserved for minority. But, did you cry together with the minorities when SAP Schools were introduced?!

    • Christine Parimala Pelly lol dont you feel silly now, after people provide evidence of tamil being offer in MGS. Next time google first before commenting.

    • “According to this line of argument, Singapore, along with Taiwan, Hong Kong, South Korea and Japan, had succeeded so spectacularly in no small part because of their shared Confucianist cultural heritage, which emphasised values such as hard work, education, family unity, deference and loyalty to authority figures, community spirit (in contrast to Western individualism), etc.

      To better sell this argument to a multi-ethnic population where the non-Chinese / non-‘Confucianist’ communities formed at least a quarter of the population, the discourse was re-branded ‘Asian Values’, rather than Confucian Work Ethic. In Singapore, traditional Asian culture was seen as a source of the nation’s economic success thus far. As such, the government embarked on programmes and campaigns to promote traditional culture, including the revitalised Speak Mandarin Campaign (targeted at English rather than dialect speakers, as was historically the case) as well as SAP schools.

      Concerns and criticisms:

      The SAP school programme is periodically criticised in the national media by Singaporeans who are concerned about the ethnic segregation that it inevitably promotes. SAP schools only offer Mother Tongue lessons in only one language (Mandarin).[4] In addition, several other subjects may also be taught in Mandarin (subjects that are usually related to Chinese culture – e.g. Chinese literature or the history of China).”

    • Hazrin Hazis PAP had a change of heart towards Mandarin after LKY met with Deng Xiaoping in 1978 when the latter visited Singapore then. Before that, LKY and PAP were pushing the learning of English, as a way to cement a multicultural society and thus the Mother tongue schools were curtailed and Nanyang University was even absorbed into NUS.

      In today’s context, I find it puzzling that we still emphasise so much on Mandarin, despite our foreign policy with China being one whereby we do not want to be seen as a “Third China” like HK or Taiwan. As such, shouldn’t we pursue a more robust domestic policy of a national identity that is of a multicultural one?

  1. Hey, this must change hor. Our President is going to be a Malay already. Must have Malay in ALL schools mah. Next time we reserve for Indian, then also must make all schools offer Tamil. Else, insulting to those presidents!

  2. Where are we heading? If it is True there is no other languages taught in these schools we need to check on the underlying statement and agenda laid in the future of the minorities.

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