In taking Tamil to the Net-savvy next generation, governments, society and netizens must share their experiences and expertise, Singapore's Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry and Education S. Iswaran said on Thursday.

For, the next generation was likely to use the Web more for its day-to-day needs, and to promote Tamil in that network a lot of innovation was needed, he said inaugurating the plenary session of the Tamil Internet Conference, held concurrently with the World Classical Tamil Conference here.

“To cater for the future needs, we should constantly bring in new ideas and methodologies in the Tamil teaching-learning process.” In Singapore, though Tamil was spoken by a minority, the government took care of the interests of the linguistic minority by promoting the language in schools and through radio, television and newspapers.

Explaining the rationale behind his government's support for promotion of Tamil, he said the number of people speaking Tamil was going down. “In 60 per cent of Tamil houses, only English is spoken.”

To help children from such families learn Tamil and make the teaching-learning process interesting, a Tamil Mozhi Katral Valarchi Kuzhumam (Tamil Language Learning Development Committee) was functioning. Yet, a lot more was required to be done, especially in cyberspace. Teachers should be advised to make use of the resources available on the Net to teach the language. And when that happened, students' listening, speaking, reading and writing skills would improve.

In Singapore, as the Education Ministry used standardised Tamil software in schools, students were able to search for information on the Web and also learn the language enthusiastically.

Teachers and students were using several communication facilities — Twitter, Facebook and resources of Web 2.0 — to promote Tamil among students. This effort was bearing fruit, he said.

Union Minister for Communications and Information Technology A. Raja said Tamil Nadu was the first State to come out with an IT policy soon after the Centre framed a policy at the national level in the 1990s. Now, the Union government formulated the Rs. 10,000-crore National e-Governance Plan and in that too, Tamil Nadu took the lead.

M. Anandakrishnan, chairman, Organising Committee of the Tamil Internet Conference, said that in the past 30 years the Tamil society had faced many challenges in taking the language to the computer. What needed to be done now were regulation and standardisation.

It was not enough if the participants presented papers, they must also engage in follow-up work to promote Tamil on the Internet. He asked the Union and State governments to play an important role in promoting Tamil.

Vasu Ranganathan of Pennsylvania University said 150 papers under 12 categories were chosen for presentation at the conference.

Poongothai Aladi Aruna, Tamil Nadu IT Minister, welcomed the gathering. T.N.S. Venkata Rangan, head of the International Fourm for Information Technology in Tamil, proposed a vote of thanks.