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Literature from home
Sunday, March 17, 2013 | 7:30 AM | 0 comments
The Straits Times; LIFE!;  March 16, 2013
Literature texts used in Singapore schools have always been of foreign origin. From classic Shakespearean plays to even Malaysian novels, it has always been a sore point for local writers and poets.
"You have no idea how 'malu' that is for us," says two-time recipient of the biennial Singapore Literature Prize, Mohamed Latif Mohamed on telling their Malaysian counterparts that Singapore Literature students use their works instead of those by Singaporeans. 
However, the National Arts Council is set to reverse this trend. Publishing 3 new anthologies that feature local Malay and Tamil writers, it aims to include these books in Malay and Tamil Literature from next year. It is part of an ongoing campaign by the council to raise the profile of local literature in schools.
"It's time students read local writers so they can learn their history through local voices."
Literature is another alternative to learning our background and history. Through authentic voices of the authors, it is often a mirror to the authors' surroundings. This allows us to get a peek into what history is like on the streets, rather that what is dictated through colonial powers or the government.

Also, local Literature is easier for students to relate to as compared with texts from other countries. The culture and way of life is similar and thus nuances will be much easier to understand.

While this is a move to be celebrated by local authors, let's not forget about the importance of foreign texts and the variety it brings. Local Literature, in my opinion, is still at an early stage - not yet as developed nor polished as the foreign counterparts. We should support local literature but we should also embrace foreign literature and learn from it.

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