PLEA Dec.19,2001 L. to Surrey Sch. Board

ਪੰਜਾਬੀ ਲੈਂਗੂਏਜ ਐਜੂਕੇਸ਼ਨ ਐਸੋਸੀਏਸ਼ਨ ਆਫ ਬੀ ਬੀ

Punjabi Language Education Association of British Columbia

11820 Woodhead Rd.  Richmond, B.C. V6X 1J4


December 19, 2001

Dr. Cynthia Lewis
Assistant Superintendent
Surrey District, 36, Surrey

Dear Dr. Lewis:

Thank you for your letter dated December 12, 2001.  The Punjabi Language Education Association (PLEA) is very thankful to the Surrey School Board and its officials for their interest in Punjabi.  However, we are very concerned about the direction this process is taking.  The information meeting at Strawberry Hill Elementary School on December 10, 2001 is a case in point.

Members and supporters of the Punjabi Language Education Association are very concerned about the process that unfolded at the meeting on Dec. 10.  Firstly, as a representative community organization which originally presented the Punjabi Language brief to the Surrey School Board, we had expected a response back to the letter we sent you outlining our concerns to your proposed language models.  We received no written response.  Secondly, we were not adequately informed of the Dec. 10 meeting or of its agenda.  This flawed process prevented our organization from presenting information and adding to the community discussion.  We had hoped to work as community partners in a collaborative spirit regarding this very important issue of Punjabi Language Education.  We are very disappointed that our community voice was excluded from your process.

Moreover, there were many process irregularities at the meeting.  There was no circulation of a written agenda.  Also, there was no advance preparation of proper translation of information presented.  Translation was quickly organized after a few audience members questioned its absence.  The fact that there was no provision for questions and discussion was very disturbing especially as the meeting was advertised as an ‘information’ meeting.  Many parents and community members wanted to speak but were not given the opportunity to do so.

In addition, school officials rushed on the meeting in order to get parents to fill out a survey.  Our organization strongly feels that it was unfair to ask parents to make a decision about possible language models when information was not properly presented and discussion was not allowed to take place.  If this was to be a truly informational meeting, then parents should have just been given information and not asked to make a decision right away.  In addition, the model proposed by our organization was not even presented as an option.   Our organization expected to be part of the consultative process, as original presenters of the brief to the Surrey Board, before any recommendations were officially presented to parents and the community.   We are still unconvinced of the two models proposed by the board.

This ill-planned, hasty meeting which shut out any collaborative process has resulted in more confusion among parents and community members.  As a dedicated community organization we are very disappointed with the process up to date and ask to be part of any further meeting or discussions around this very important issue of Punjabi Language Education in Surrey public schools.

Members of PLEA would be pleased to assist you in clarifying the situation and putting the process back on track.  As you are aware, this issue is extremely important not only to the District but also to the whole South Asian community.  As a matter of fact, the community is looking forward to the Surrey School District to provide leadership on this matter.

Please feel free to contact us at 604 275-8977 or 660-5832 or 604 437 9014.  Thank you for your time and attention to this matter.


Balwant Sanghera, President    (604 275-8977)

Sadhu Binning, Vice President (604 437-9014)


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