Chua Mia Tee's (b. 1931) National Language Class conveys the strong nationalist feelings that were ripe in 1959 when Singapore was granted full self-government. The painting is an ideal example of Social Realism, a dynamic art movement that felt art should represent the concerns of the working classes. Many of such works produced during the turbulent decade of the 1950s embodied aspirations for freedom and independence.
Born in China, Chua migrated to Singapore in 1937 and became a prominent member of the Equator Art Society. The group believed in the social responsibility of art, and that art should directly engage in the betterment of society. Chua graduated from the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts in 1957. He is regarded as a master of portrait painting, and has painted portraits of presidents and prime ministers of Singapore.