Punjabi Language Progressing Well in British Columbia
More than 650 students at the secondary level and 250 at the elementary level
are enrolled in Punjabi classes throughout Surrey schools.
Surrey, Vancouver, Nov. 29, 2007
Last month, students of Punjabi classes, their parents and teachers from Princess Margaret Secondary School as well as Beaver Creek and Strawberry Hill Elementary Schools got together at Strawberry Hill School for a very special presentation. As an invited guest, I had the privilege of watching our students sing, perform and recite excellent selections in Punjabi. It was a very enjoyable occasion to see these enthusiastic students take so much pride in learning Punjabi at their schools. I would like to congratulate all of the students, their parents and teachers for their commitment and dedication to Punjabi.
It was the same school (Strawberry Hill) where a number of years ago, Punjabi Language Education Association (PLEA) began its campaign to get Punjabi classes under way at the elementary level in Surrey. We have come a long way since then. Now, Surrey has the unique distinction of being a great model for Punjabi language instruction in this province. It is a matter of great pride for our community that at present, in addition to six secondary schools, Punjabi classes are also in full swing at three elementary schools- Beaver Creek, Newton and Strawberry Hill. More than 650 students at the secondary level and 250 at the elementary level are enrolled in Punjabi classes throughout Surrey schools.
In addition to Surrey, Punjabi classes are also under way in various other communities including Abbotsford, New Westminster, Vancouver and Richmond. At the pos-secondary level, UBC continues to offer first, second and third year Punjabi. Also, Kwantlen University College and University College of the Fraser Valley are offering Punjabi classes. PLEA has been working hard for the past several years in promoting Punjabi at all levels. It has been very successful in this regard. However, it continues to face a number of challenges as well. These include the lack of well-qualified teachers, inadequate resources and the language policy. Hopefully, before long, we will be able to overcome these challenges as well.
For this year, PLEA, in addition to supporting the Punjabi classes already under way, is trying to get it going in Burnaby as well. For this purpose, a number of meetings have been held with the Burnaby School Board/District officials. Their response has been very positive. Early in the New Year, all of Burnaby’s secondary school calendars will include Punjabi (introductory, intermediate and advanced) as a course offering. If there is enough interest, we hope to see Punjabi classes under way in a number of high schools in Burnaby. For this, PLEA is very thankful to a number of community activists for their support. PLEA would like to urge our students at each of Burnaby’s secondary schools to sign up for Punjabi classes in large numbers.
It is a matter of great pride for the promoters and speakers of Punjabi that it is amongst one of the ten most spoken languages out of a total of 6,000 all around the globe. More than 150 million Punjabi speakers are spread out in 150 countries around the world. Mini Punjabs in countries like Canada, USA, U.K, Australia and Singapore are testaments to the popularity and resilience of this language. Here in BC, cities like Surrey and Abbotsford, Punjabi is the second most spoken language after English.
PLEA is very pleased with the progress it has made over the years. For this, it is very thankful to the students, teachers, parents, Indo-Canadian media and the community. We must continue these efforts.
The New Year is just around the corner. As in previous years, PLEA will be celebrating the International Mother Language Day on Sunday, February 25 at the Grand Taj Banquet Hall. This year’s celebration will consist of an all day Punjabi Conference and a dinner in the evening. PLEA hopes to see all of the well wishers and supporters of Punjabi in large numbers at both the conference and the dinner.
President, Punjabi Language Education Association