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South Asian Students-Initiatives for Success

Surrey, Vancouver, Feb. 10, 2009
Balwant Sanghera
President, Punjabi Language Education Association

The South Asian community has been in Canada for more than 110 years. During this time, it has gone through a lot. It has suffered through institutionalized racism, discrimination, abuse and a variety of other hardships. Our pioneers never wavered from their determination of succeeding against all odds. Fighting against racism and injustice was their hallmark. They didn’t care for their own welfare, safety and even lives in this process. Moreover, they never complained but kept working hard. They have contributed immensely to the growth and development of Canada. Our pioneers never wavered from their basic objectives. In this process, our community has been able to achieve a lot. As a matter of fact, to-day, the South Asian community is considered to be one of the most hard working, resilient, prosperous and generous communities in Canada.

Such accomplishments provide the community with every reason to celebrate our successes. However, it is also an appropriate time to reflect upon some of the challenges facing the community. In this regard, issues relating to the academic excellence of our students always seem to come on top. Children and youth are our future. As such, they must continue to be our main focus.

A well-educated young generation is the greatest asset for any community. And ours is no exception. In order to achieve this distinction, the value of literacy and academics achievement must start at an early age. The children must learn the value of good education even before they head out for kindergarten.
The parents need to instill in their children the importance of education. They must expose their children to an environment that reinforces the value of good grades and a keen desire for life- long learning. There are a number of ways in which the parents, in co-operation with the school, can enhance their child’s enthusiasm for high academic achievement.

In this context, it is very encouraging to note that one of BC’s most progressive school districts is making an earnest effort in reaching out to the South Asian community. Delta School District administration, trustees, Delta Teachers Association and other stakeholders have undertaken a commendable initiative in this regard. Delta South Asian Student Support Initiative (DSASSI) has been under way for more than a year. This group of dedicated individuals has been working very hard in coming up with various ways and means by which our students could do even better in school. DSASSI has been working on a multi- prong approach in order to help students of South Asian heritage do well in school.

This initiative recognizes the changing demographics in the district and the importance of the South Asian community in this context. All of the stakeholders in this process are keen to make sure that the full potential of our students is realized. Parents can play a key role in this regard. With this in mind, DSASSI is focusing on the joint roles and responsibilities of students, parents, school, district staff and the community in ensuring that each one of our students experiences success in school.
DSASSI’s Steering Committee is actively engaged in coming up with the best possible ways to reach out to the community. It is likely that it will be ready to go to the community in the next few months. Then the onus will be upon the community to embrace DSASSI’s recommendations and run with them. Once these recommendations are made public, our powerful South Asian media can do an excellent job in getting the community on board. After all, we want the best for our students. As a trailblazer on this issue, Delta School District and its partners in this process deserve our congaratulations, thanks and full support.




Balwant Sanghera

Balwant Sanghera
President, Punjabi Language Education Association . He is a retired School Psychologist and Community Activist in British Columbia ,Canada.