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Deputy Education Minister Datuk P. Kamalanathan said the first Tamil class was taught by teachers from Tamil Nadu using an imported syllabus. Today, it is based on a Malaysian syllabus, with 80 per cent of graduate teachers.

KUALA LUMPUR: THIS Oct 21, Malaysia will have seen a 200-year presence of Tamil education on our shores.

A host of programmes are in the pipeline for a year-long celebration to mark a milestone that began when the first Tamil class was
held at Penang Free School on Oct 21, 1816.

Deputy Education Minister Datuk P. Kamalanathan said the first Tamil class was taught by teachers from Tamil Nadu using an imported syllabus.

Today, it is based on a Malaysian syllabus, with 80 per cent of graduate teachers. The remainder is trained teachers.

Kamalanathan said here yesterday Tamil schools in Malaysia have also made a lot of much had undergone so much improvement in terms of infrastructure and facilities that they were not only attracting pupils from the Indian community, but also non-Indian parents were enrolling their children in the schools.

“We are confident that the number of students enrolling in Tamil schools will increase,” he said, adding that there had been an increase of between 200 and 500 in student enrolment annually for the past two years.

There are 524 Tamil schools nationwide with nearly 10,000 teachers and 100,000 pupils.

New Tamil schools in the pipeline include SJK(T) Bandar Mahkota Cheras in Kuala Lumpur and SJK(T) Bandar Seri Alam in Pasir Gudang, Johor.

Kamalanathan said outside of Tamil Nadu, India, no other nation developed Tamil education as in Malaysia, adding that the Malaysian Tamil education was also being exported abroad.

“The Swiss Education Ministry is using Universiti Pendidikan Sultan Idris’ Bachelor in Education (Tamil Language) as a qualification criterion for Tamil teachers in Switzerland.”

Kamalanathan said among the activities planned for the year-long celebration, which will kick off on Oct 21, included a Tamil language competition for pupils who were not from Tamil schools.

A seminar for Tamil language teachers will be held in October in addition to the simultaneous plaque unveiling ceremony in the 524 Tamil schools nationwide, which will bear the signatures of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak and Education Minister Datuk Seri Mahdzir Khalid in Tamil.

A coffee table book on the historical aspects of Tamil education and schools in the country would also be published, Kamalanathan said.

Other activities in the pipeline include the setting up of a Tamil Language Research Centre at Universiti Malaya, which will be involved in the development and standardisation of the language.

Kamalanathan said they were looking at elevating the status of the research centre to Asean level. This centre will comprise local and international scholars.

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