Punjabi Growing In Surrey Schools As Indo-Canadians Students Number Nearly 17,000

By Balwant Sanghera

SURREY – Surrey, with close to 74,000 students, has now become the largest school district in British Columbia. Nearly 17,000 students 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 25 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 a number of high schools , 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. Early this year, in consultation with PLEA, the Surrey School District sent home a form to parents of grade four students in six of its elementary schools. These schools are: Beaver Creek, Chimney Hill, Strawberry Hill, Green Timbers, T.E. Scott and Newton. The parents were requested to choose one of the two languages-French and Punjabi, complete the form and e-mail the same to the school of their child. Due to the COVID-19 there has been some difficulty in this regard. PLEA, with support from the South Asian media, had requested the parents to mark Punjabi, complete the form and e-mail the same to their child’s school by the end of this month.

Due to the Coronavirus pandemic, the Surrey School District has kindly extended this deadline till September. On behalf of PLEA I would like to urge parents of grade 4 students at these six elementary schools to mark Punjabi, complete the form and e-mail it to their child’s school as soon as possible. In case, the form has been misplaced or lost, they should contact their child’s school or the Surrey School District office as soon as possible. This is an excellent opportunity to ensure that our children get enrolled in the Punjabi class of their school.

For further information, they can contact me at 604-836-8976 or Sadhu Binning at 778-773-1886

Balwant Sanghera is the President, Punjabi Language Education Association (PLEA).

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