Message by the President of The Hindi Society (Singapore)
The genesis of the Hindi Society (Singapore) can be traced to January 1988 when two community leaders, Mr Shriniwas Rai and Mr Kailash Nath Rai, gathered materials to kindle the idea of promoting the learning of Hindi as a second language in Singapore. In January 1989, a Pro-Tem Hindi Committee (chaired by Mr Sivakant Tiwari) was formed to look into the learning of Hindi Language in Singapore. That Committee included representatives from a cross-section of society, including the Singapore North Indian Hindu Association, the Singapore Gujarati Society, the Singapore Sindhi Merchants Association, and the Singapore Bengali Association.
Subsequently, Mr Sivakant Tiwari met the then Minister for Education, Dr Tony Tan, to highlight the problems faced by the local Hindi-speaking students and to request for recognition of Hindi as a second language in the local schools.
On 6 October 1989, Dr Tony Tan announced in Parliament that Hindi (together with Bengali, Gujarati, Punjabi and Urdu) would be allowed to be offered as a second language in secondary schools up to the ‘O’ Level examinations.
With sustained efforts put in by the Society, the Ministry of Education on 25 March 1991 approved the taking of Hindi as a second language at ‘A’ Levels, and PSLE on 23 July 1993.
These were milestones which placed Hindi and the other four non-Tamil languages on the education landscape in Singapore schools. These languages are now entrenched in Singapore. Mr Shriniwas Rai, Mr Kailash Nath Rai, Mr Sivakant Tiwari and his team must be commended for their initiative, dedication, perseverance and selfless contributions.
Since then, the Society has come a long way. It is now 30 years and there is no turning back. The time has come for the Society to envision becoming a regional leader in teaching and promoting Hindi. The road in the past had not been easy and the future is not going to be any easier. Nevertheless, the dream must be kept alive, sustained, and fulfilled.
In the beginning, the Society started with only a handful of students and teachers. Today, the Society teaches Hindi to 4208 students in six NTIL Weekend Centres on Saturdays, and 75 mainstream schools on weekdays. This is no easy feat. It is a monumental task and responsibility. Apart from teaching Hindi, the Society provides a varied and holistic education that extends to debates, and celebrating a variety of cultural events and festivals like Holi, Raksha Bandhan, etc., with the major highlight being the annual Hindi Centres’ Day.
A good and dedicated teacher ignites interest and makes the learning of the Hindi Language fun. However, no amount of teaching can achieve the desired result without the joint partnership and contributions of teachers, students and parents, working closely together to ensure that each child achieves his best. As John Dewey aptly said – “Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself”.
The Society has been fortunate to have good leadership, dedicated teachers, a Principal who inspires, a team of hardworking and committed office staff, supportive parents, eager students, and helpful community partners, who have jointly made the Society what it is today.
I express my deepest gratitude to all those who have guided or contributed to the Society’s rise and growth in one way or another, since its inception and I am confident that the Society will continue to teach the Hindi Language with excellence in the decades to come.
Mahendra Prasad Rai
The Hindi Society (Singapore)
Message by the Principal of The Hindi Society (Singapore)
I have always spoken about the need to equip children with not just the knowledge of what is essential today, but also with the ability of adapting and learning the new ways to handle the changes happening around us. Never before, has this been more required than today. We strongly believe that Hindi education also has an important part to play in this. Hence, while we continue to try and build a strong foundation of language skills in our students through the teaching of language usage, vocabulary building, regular practice and planned assessments, we also strive to build in our students the ‘ability to learn new things’. This would go a long way in preparing them to deal with changes that are likely to happen frequently in their lifetime.
Keeping with changing times, Ministry of Education (MOE) has changed the schoolbased assessment policies for the students. Written mid-year exams have been replaced by weighted assessments starting first with Primary 1, Primary 2 and Secondary 1. This is likely to be implemented for the other grades as well in the future. The new approach shifts the focus from building knowledge from theoretical and paper-based concepts, to a more practical approach of exposing students to have a hands-on experience in the community and society. One such example this year was a project done by students that needed them to conduct interviews on good deeds, allowing them to learn from experiences of the people around them.
These changes coming from MOE are reflected in Non-Tamil Indian Language (NTIL), education methods as well. To prepare the teachers for the changes, briefing & training sessions have been conducted by Board for the Teaching & Testing of South Asian Languages (BTTSAL) and a more in-depth Hindi based training has been provided to Hindi Society (HSS) teachers.
HSS strongly believes that parents are partners in education and we have accordingly briefed parents of the changes for Primary 1, Primary 2 as well as Secondary 1 – including a more detailed weighted assessment format for Secondary 1. We will continue to do so as more changes are implemented in the future.
This year in our milestone 30th year in Singapore, Hindi Society continues is even more committed to our objective of providing Hindi education and an Indian cultural foundation to children in Singapore. As on date our total student strength is about 4200 students and our educational activities are now conducted from 6 centres where Hindi is taught on Saturdays plus 75 local schools during weekdays. In addition, our Vidyajyoti programme for nursery students continues to grow and is now taught in 3 centres to approximately 150 students.
We look forward to your continued support, constructive feedback for us to continue our endeavour well into the future years.
Anjali Amit Gandhi
The Hindi Society (Singapore)