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
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