TAMIL is said to be one of the longest surviving languages in the world. It has been described as the only language of contemporary India that is continuing with its classical past and rich literature.
The language has existed for more than 2,000 years, with the earliest epigraphic records found on rock edicts and hero stones in the 5th century BC.
The Sangam literature, which is described as the earliest period of Tamil literature, is said to be dated between 300BC and 300AD. Tamil language inscriptions written between the 1st century BC and 2nd century AD have been discovered in Egypt, Sri Lanka and Thailand. The variety and quality of classical Tamil literature make it one of the greatest classical traditions and literatures of the world, according to Wikipedia.
Malaysia is one of the few countries outside of India that provide a conducive environment and support for this oldest language to flourish. The existence of more than 500 Tamil primary schools in the country, many of which are aided by the state, is a testimony of the government's effort in promoting and sustaining the language among the Tamil-speaking population.
The ancient ‘Ramayana’ manuscript. Tamil is one of the oldest languages in the world.
Pic courtesy of University Library, Cambridge
The recent announcement by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak that new Tamil schools would be built and that more funds would be allocated for Tamil schools showed the government's willingness to meet the Indian community's desire to improve Tamil language education in the country.
MIC should take the lead by setting up a special committee comprising academicians, community leaders and non-governmental organisations to draw up a blueprint for Tamil schools. This committee should also look into the recent proposal to set up the first Tamil secondary school in the country.
The time has come for those who take pride in the language to stand up against individuals calling for the abolishment of Tamil schools in the country.
S. Param, Ipoh, Perak NST Opinion Letters-to-the-editor 22/02/2014