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NRI News: Surrey, BC, Canada


Celebration of Education by the South Asian Community

Surrey, Vancouver, Oct 26, 2008
Balwant Sanghera
President, Punjabi Language Education Association

Recently, I was invited to the second annual celebration of the South Asian Student Advocacy by Teachers (SASAT). SASAT is an excellent organization started some time ago by a number of concerned teachers of South Asian heritage. Its objectives include creating more awareness amongst the South Asian community about education and the need to get actively involved in our children’s educational and sports activities etc. Also, SASAT strives to make our young people proud of their culture and heritage. It tries to educate members of the South Asian community about issues challenging our young people.

The gathering at the Grand Taj Banquet Hall in Surrey, on Tuesday October 21,was very impressive.
Close to 500 interested parents, Surrey School District officials and community leaders took the time to participate in this worthwhile process. It was a great way to bring such a diverse group of people together to discuss issues affecting our youth in the school context. Participants were very positive and enthusiastic in their appraisal of this exercise.

All of the speakers emphasized the need for a strong partnership between the school, parents and the community. Every speaker underlined the need for open and on-going communication between school and parents.

Radio FM Talk Show host Harjinder Thind stated that Canada’s public school system is the best in the world. Its sole objective is to cater to the needs of the students and the community it serves. By becoming more active participants in our schools we can make it even stronger and more effective. He urged parents to take keen interest in their child’s schooling, sports and other extra-curricular activities. This will go along way in producing well-rounded emotionally balanced and productive citizens.

Our community has been in Canada for more than 110 years. During this time, it has evolved from a marginalized one to one of the most visible, vibrant, prosperous and generous communities in Canada. Members of our community are making commendable contribution in every aspect of Canadian life. At the same time, we are also facing some formidable challenges. Our youth are our greatest resource and asset. As such, as parents and caregivers, we must make every effort in giving our children the best possible education, attention and care. This was the underlining focus of this celebration.

Two skits performed by players from the Apna Community Theatre (ACT) reinforced the theme for the evening. Too Busy to Parent illustrated the lack of time and attention of some of the parents towards their children. The second skit –My Boy, My Boy, Ya My Girl Too! highlighted the preferential treatment of boys over girls in our community. The performers did an excellent job in raising these issues.

The evening concluded with an impressive keynote address by West Vancouver Police Chief Kash Heed.
Chief Heed mentioned that times have changed.

Consequently, as a community, we also need to change our approach to addressing problems facing the community, especially our youth. Drawing upon his 30 years of experience as a police officer, Heed remarked that youth in every community struggle with the same kind of issues. These include self-esteem, sense of belonging and personal competence. All of us, individually and collectively, need to work together and in unison in order to help our youth. Getting actively involved in our children’s schooling and related activities is the foremost and the first step in this regard.

SASAT deserves the community’s thanks and congratulations for raising more awareness in the community. It is an issue that is very crucial for the future and well being of our young people.



Balwant Sanghera

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