BY BALWANT SANGHERA
Punjabi Language Education Association
DURING the past few years, Punjabi has attained a fairly high profile in Canada, locally, provincially and nationally. All around there are a lot of signs in Punjabi at prominent government and public places like banks, hospitals, city halls, credit unions and various other locations. Punjabi has now become the language of employment in many parts of Canada .In this context, Punjabi Language Education Association (PLEA) continues to work hard in promoting Punjabi at all levels.
Surrey has always been a great model for us. At present, Punjabi is being taught in six elementary and nine secondary schools in Surrey. The six elementary schools where Punjabi classes are under way are: Beaver Creek, Green Timbers, Newton, Strawberry Hill, Chimney Hill and T.E. Scott. The nine high schools are: Enver Creek, Frank Hurt, L.A.Matheson, Panorama Ridge, Princess Margaret, Queen Elizabeth, Sullivan Heights, Tamanawis and SAIL (Surrey Academy for Individualized Learning). In addition to that, Punjabi classes are being offered in North Delta Secondary School, New Westminster Secondary and Queensborough Middle School, Burnaby South and various schools in Abbotsford.
Due to the COVID-19 situation, our lives have been turned upside down. Schools are no exception. Online learning seems to have become the norm until things get back to normal. Every school district is now making plans for the Fall. Surrey is also actively involved in this process. According to the BC Ministry of Education policy, every student in BC’s public school system must take a second language (other than English) from grades four to eight. In order to plan classes for September, Surrey school officials have sent language selection forms home via e-mail to the parents of current grade four students (who will be entering grade five in September 2020) in six elementary schools. Parents have been given the choice between French and Punjabi as a second language. These forms should be returned via e-mail to their child’s school by April 30.
On behalf of PLEA I would like to urge parents of grade four students of these six schools – Newton, Strawberry Hill, Beaver Creek, T.E. Scott, Green Timbers and Chimney Hill – to choose Punjabi and return the forms via e-mail immediately to their child’s school.
PLEA would like to add more schools to these lists. However, it needs community support in order to do so. In this context, once the current COVID-19 pandemic is over and things are back to normal, PLEA would like to urge well-wishers of Punjabi to become its ambassadors. They can help organize parents at schools where there is a large number of students interested in enrolling in Punjabi classes. After organizing at the local school level, they should contact the school officials and PLEA to follow up on this. We need to encourage parents and students to take more pride in their mother tongue Punjabi.
For further information please feel free to contact me at 604-836-8976 or Sadhu Binning at 778-773-1886.