AUCKLAND: Punjabi community in New Zealand has always desired that their coming generations remain in touch with their ancestors’ language and heritage. Catering to this demand, some of the Gurdwaras have started teaching Punjabi language.
Many children come to learn Punjabi at the Gurdwaras at weekend. The community at large has appreciated this effort of teaching Punjabi at Gurdwaras. Now, there is a demand to streamlining the Punjabi teaching by standardising the syllabus, and then taking up the issue of implementing Punjabi in school curriculum with the New Zealand government.
Already, efforts have begun in this regard. As per information available, some of the community leaders are in contact with New Zealand Qualification Authority to have better understanding of formal procedure of developing a curriculum and getting acquainted with process of introducing same subject into schools.
The New Zealand Punjabi foundation members and leaders of other Punjabi community organisations have been meeting with community people to mobilise support for introducing Punjabi in the school curriculum.
Talking to Indian spokesman, New Zealand Punjabi Foundation Secretary, Parminder Singh, Papatoetoe, said that the entire process had been divided into two stages. “We have chalked out this strategy under the guidance of Hari Singh, a well renowned community person in Auckland. In the first stage, we need to bring together standardized syllabus of Punjabi subject in all Sikh Gurdwaras where Punjabi is being taught. As soon as the first step is accomplished, we will put forward the proposal of introducing Punjabi as a subject in Auckland schools, before the Ministry of Education.”
Manjit Singh Rehill from Hamilton, who has been actively involved in this drive, said that introduction of Punjabi subject in schools would help the youth in returning to their roots. “Having knowledge of Punjabi language will open more career avenue for our future generation if they would be interested in doing any kind of job or business in India. I believe Punjabi language subject should be introduced in curriculum for Punjabi kids in all schools in New Zealand”, he said.
Daljit Kaur Dhindsa, who has been teaching Punjabi at Takanini Gurdwara in Auckland, said, “We have more than 300 children who attend Punjabi classes at weekend. We have found the children coming to us very much keen of learning Punjabi language and skills”.
When contacted, Member of Parliament Kanwaljit Singh Bakshi said he supported the community idea of introducing a standardise syllabus of Punjabi language in Gurdwaras.
The Sikh population in New Zealand more than doubled from 9,500 in the 2006 Census to 19,000 in the 2013 Census. Sikhism is currently the 4th largest religion in New Zealand.
It is pertinent to mention here that in Punjabi language has been given recognition in the states of Victoria, New South Wales, South and Queensland in Australia.
However, there is a need to intensify the concerted efforts at all the levels to get the Punjabi language introduced in the school curriculum in New Zealand.