Punjabi in Surrey schools: Appeal to parents of grade 4 students of T.E. Scott and Chimney Hill Schools



Punjabi Language Education Association (PLEA)


SURREY, with more than 72,000 students, has now become the largest school district in British Columbia. Nearly 16,000 student attending Surrey schools are Indo-Canadians. Consequently, eight high schools and four elementary schools in Surrey are offering Punjabi as second language.

According to the provincial language policy, students from grades five to eight are expected to take a second language. They are offered a number of choices including Punjabi. If the students don’t choose a second language they are automatically enrolled in French as a second language.

For more than 23 years, Punjabi Language Education Association (PLEA) has been promoting Punjabi in BC’s public schools, post- secondary institutions and the community. It has been very successful in this regard. As a result of PLEA’s efforts, Punjabi classes are under way in eight high schools and four elementary schools in Surrey and many other places in Metro Vancouver.

Second language is compulsory from grades five to eight and optional from grades 9 to 12. The Surrey School District conducted a survey in October 2017 in all of its elementary schools in order to determine interest in a second language. The survey was sent to the parents of grades 2, 3 and 4 and offered a choice of 10 languages as the option for second language. These were: French, Punjabi, Mandarin, Spanish, Korean, Japanese, German, Italian, Aboriginal and ASL (American Sign Language).

Forty-eight per cent of the survey participants that reponded chose French, whereas 21 % chose Punjabi. Fourteen per cent preferred Mandarin and 9% went for Spanish. The rest were between 1 and 3 %.

The district administration submitted a report about these findings to the Board of School Trustees. As a result of this, they recommended two elementary schools where there was a good potential for Mandarin and two were recommended for Punjabi. The two schools where Punjabi has a good potential are T.E. Scott (7079-148th Street) and Chimney Hill (14755-74th Avenue). In order to firm up these numbers, the school district administration has sent another survey to the parents of grade 4 students in both of these schools asking them if they will be interested in enrolling their child in a Punjabi class in grade five in September 2018.

On behalf of Punjabi Language Education Association (PLEA), I would like to urge parents of grade 4 students of both T.E. Scott and Chimney Hill Schools to fill in the survey form, mark Punjabi as a second language choice for their child and return the form to the school of their child as soon as possible. As a matter of fact, they should do this immediately. If any parents did not get the survey form they should contact the school and follow up. This is an excellent opportunity to ensure that our children get enrolled in the Punjabi class of their school. For further information they should feel free to contact me at 604-836-8976 or Sadhu Binning at 778-773-1886.